Crossroads summer walk to bring pro-life message to six provinces
By Nathan Rumohr
The B.C. Catholic
Editors note: This is our second article from The B.C. Catholic's Chosing the Culture of Life series
Despite mental and physical pain, the apostles proclaimed the Gospel message to the world by walking and being living witnesses. This summer a group of pro-life activists will follow that example, heralding the message of life as they walk across Canada.
The 2012 Crossroads Canada Summer Walk will begin May 19 in Vancouver and cross six provinces. The tour will end Aug. 10 in Ottawa with a rally on Parliament Hill.
The annual pilgrimage brings the pro-life message to Canadians at a grassroots level.
"We need to bring awareness about abortion and get people to think about the pro-life issue," said Patrick Wilson, the walk's 2012 leader. "People need to know that abortion is not a closed discussion."
Last summer the 2011 pilgrimage experienced the positive and negative reactions of Canadians to abortion.
In August the group entered Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament and ask Christ to end abortion. They all wore white T-shirts with the words "pro-life" written on them. But when they went into the famous Quebec landmark, they were told to take off their T-shirts by a priest.
"We were in complete and utter shock," John D'Agostino wrote on the Crossroads blog. "The priest said it was a 'political issue' and didn't want us to offend any pro-choice people who might be taking a tour of the basilica."
Wilson said the Quebec story reached legendary status within the Crossroads organization. "It will be interesting to see what happens this year."
But there have been highlights for Crossroads too. In Kelowna in 2011 a woman approached the walkers and told them their 2010 pilgrimage helped her change her mind about having an abortion. Michael Hayden, 2011's leader, said the girl's story brought the number of saved "Crossroads Canada babies" to at least two.
"The Lord can work so much good through our prayers. He can bring new life into this world and change hearts through our sacrifice and prayers," Hayden wrote, also on the Crossroads blog.
The trek operates in seven-day increments. Pilgrims are divided into separate teams who travel to cities by car and on foot. One team travels during the day and one by night.
Every weekend the campaign stops in a major Canadian city, where the group rests, raises funds, and tours churches. It also gives the group a chance to see how major cities treat abortion.
Physical and spiritual fatigue often set in for the pilgrims during the journey.
"Crossroads has not only been difficult physically, it has also been a fight spiritually," John D'Agostino wrote.
"Praying outside abortion mills is an intense experience with the devil, as you can sense the evil lingering about the place. I think of all the innocent lives being taken and it is very emotional; it has brought me to the point of tears a few times."
"During Crossroads we are faced every day with death at every turn, and those who approve it to our faces. We see the faces of the women who enter the abortuaries and the looks on their faces as they leave," added Hayden.
Wilson knows he's inheriting a difficult journey, but, he said, abortion must be stopped.
"Abortion is genocide, killing over 100,000 babies per year. I felt called to be involved."
Wilson has participated in pro-life causes in his native city of Toronto. He's been involved in Choice Chain and pamphlet blitzes.
Crossroads is part of the American Life League based in Washington, D.C. and conducts five walks across North America (four in the U.S. and one in Canada) every summer.
Steve Sanborn, a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, founded Crossroads in 1995 after hearing Blessed John Paul II speak at World Youth Day 1993 in Denver, Colo.
The former Pope challenged the youth in attendance to preach the pro-life message as "the first apostles preached Christ and the Good News of salvation in the squares of cities, towns, and villages."
Participants in the annual walk take part in parish lectures and spread the pro-life message through the media in radio and TV interviews.
Since Crossroads's inception, more than 500 college-age people have participated in the walks.
Click here to visit Crossroads website; or here to read the Crossroads blog.