The Walk itself was beautiful: lots of spirit, joy, and youthful energy. A small knot of protestors greeted us with vulgarities at one cross street, and after the Walk some folks on the street were hurling negativities at us (especially Fr. Hildebrand and I, dressed as we were in our habits).
That night, we two priests were making our way back to Ignatius Press from the parish where our students were camped out in the gym. We had beds awaiting us at the Press, and felt only mild guilt at abandoning the students to the rigors of two nights on a gym floor. We climbed aboard a city bus, but the driver would not take our money. “Priests don’t pay on our buses,” he smiled. Everyone on the bus (mostly ethnic folks) seemed friendly to us. I asked a little African American lady where to get the N tram at Market Street, but she didn’t know, so a Chinese lady volunteered to take us there. “I’m going to the BART Station myself—follow me!” We followed, and again, as we tried to pay, the lady said “priests don’t pay.” Our Chinese guide—Shirley was her name—was most amicable, so I ventured to ask her what she thought of the Walk for Life. “Oh, we like it,” she said with gusto. “Only a few extremists cause problems. They are extremists.” She saw us to our train, and blew both of us old priests kisses as we boarded.
I am aware that a significant part of San Francisco takes virulent exception to the Catholic Church and the Walk for Life, but I’m quite sure it is a minority. It is a powerful minority, but still not, I dare to say, the attitude of the general population. It’s a beautiful city, and we should be bold in offering it the gift of Jesus Christ and his Gospel.