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Thousands of people, including a delegation from the Diocese of San Bernardino, gathered on a cold, rainy winter morning Jan. 20 at the historic Placita on Olvera Street in Los Angeles to become a part of history. The rain would not stop the passionate supporters from walking in solidarity for human life and dignity at the 10th annual One Life LA Walk for Life.

“Just being able to walk the streets of LA, even with the rain coming down, there’s just so many people all walking together for the same cause for unborn children,” said Mac Rodriguez, Aquinas High School volunteer and chaperone for the day.

The One Life LA commemorated 10 years of honoring every life’s beauty and dignity through the annual Walk for Life event, which includes the procession, live music, food and guest speakers who shared their personal stories.

One Life LA kicked off at 11 am with a live musical performance to welcome the walkers as they filled the Placita. The kick-off event energized the crowd despite the sudden downpour minutes before the start of the walk. The actual walk began at 12:30 pm, with a sea of people sheltering under umbrellas, carrying signs that advocated for life. Participants made their way from the Plaza on Olvera Street to LA State Historic Park, where the festival took place.

“I’m here to support what is really the biggest human rights issue of our time,” said Arvin Vicente, parishioner at San Secondo d`Asti in Guasti. “In a way, just lending my voice to those who have no voice, the unborn, precious little ones and that’s why I’m here. I wouldn’t trade my day for any other. This is really important.”

The day ended with a Requiem Mass for the Unborn, where the faithful celebrated the closing Liturgy for One Life LA 2024 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Los Angeles. During the Homily, Bishop Matthew G. Elshoff, OFM Cap., Episcopal Vicar for Our Lady of the Angels Pastoral Region proclaimed that pro-life efforts are constitutional rights and Catholics should spread the teachings Jesus and cherish all stages of life.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is all about envisioning, embracing a vision of life which includes everything in the course of our existence,” Bishop Elshoff said. “Whether life is very good or very bad, nothing lasts except the fundamental values of truth, of love, of freedom and of justice and life is an inalienable right enshrined among those principles in the constitution of these United States of America. This is the kingdom of God, a web of relationships in which Christ Jesus begins the vision of life in a womb, ‘in the very depths of my mother’s womb, you knit me together,’ and to follow Jesus, is to embrace that vision of life and we, too, must encourage that life and help to bring it to its fullness in whatever way our vocation challenges us to do so.”

One Life LA began in 2015 as a one-day event meant to catalyze a movement of love and mercy in Los Angeles and its entire community. Over the past 10 years, One Life LA has grown and delegations from various dioceses and service organizations within Southern California attend the annual Walk for Life event.

“We did it last year and we enjoyed it and it’s a worthy cause,” said Jacqueline Rojas, parishioner at the Holy Name of Jesus, Redlands. “It’s something that I want to encourage my kids. I think it’s something that a lot of young people don’t realize the significance of because the thought process is different, you don’t really have the humanity of the baby from the start, it’s missing in people’s minds.”

One Life LA and its partners work to provide life-affirming support to pregnant women, assist immigrants and refugees, the homeless, human trafficking survivors, the elderly, the disabled and the dying, and help foster children find forever homes. According to One Life LA, this commitment to service ensures that participants view this event not only as a destination, but as a call to build up their communities.

The delegates from the Diocese of San Bernardino and other One Life LA participants shared that, by walking together as one, they were proclaiming that every life is precious. The annual event was a true demonstration of thanking God for the gift of life and the overflowing love and support that the faithful community has for every stage of human life, others shared.

The Diocesan Office of Respect Life & Pastoral Care recognizes that the month of January brings new beginnings, newness, the ability to start again and new life. For this reason, the Office encouraged prayer and participation in several events throughout the month that the office titled, “January: The Gift of Life.”

Throughout “January: The Gift of Life,” the Diocesan Office of Respect Life & Pastoral Care encouraged parish communities to “give thanks to God for the gift of life and join in prayer for a greater respect for the life and dignity of the human person, from conception to natural death.”

 Elena Macias is the Managing Editor of the BYTE.