When starting the Crossroads journey, as with any other pilgrimage, there were warnings about the physically, emotional, and spiritual battles that one might face. In our speeches at weekend Masses, we ask people to pray for our strength in all these areas, because we know that, inevitably, in one or all these areas, we will be attacked. As I approach the last few hours of this journey and reflect on the last few days, I am incredibly thankful for the grace and strength received because of all your prayers and intercessions for us.
My journey with Crossroads started only on Jan. 2 and I came in with no expectations. My decision was partially out of my devotion to the pro-life issues and partly as a distraction from the troubles of life. I shrugged off the warnings of these battles, thinking that my time on pilgrimage was too short and I was too experienced in pro-life activities to be affected by any badgering or negativity.
Physically, the last few days were long and very hot. Temperatures up to 40C, fire warnings, and walking 20-30km a day would start to exhaust any normal person. Arrogantly, I waved it off: “I love hot weather”, “I’m great with endurance”, “I just started, and so a few days won’t affect me”. Spiritually, we were immersed in prayer: joining in multiple rosaries, divine mercy chaplets, liturgy of the hours, and other devotions, as well as inner, private prayer. We are also constantly engaging each other in quite deep conversations about moral philosophy, theology, spirituality, social issues, etc. Again, arrogantly, I had a persona of holiness and devotion. Emotionally, I was the most peaceful and relaxed that I’ve been in over a year. I felt like I slipped right in with a group of complete strangers and was accepted into a close-knit group of friends without awkwardness or much effort at all.
I felt the mission was going well. We were walking, praying, and being peaceful witnesses. We were getting along and dealing with stressful situations quite well, with the help of the leadership and insight of Allison, who always tried to deal with issues before they actually became issues. The negativity and abuse we received was minor compared to what it could have been and what I’ve experienced in the USA.
Then I got hit and hit hard. In rapid succession, I was inundated with overwhelming emotional and spiritual trials. The surprising part was they actually had nothing to do with the Crossroads walk or the pro-life mission. When those trials happened though and my sense of peace and stability was disturbed, the other little things started affecting me more. All of a sudden, I found myself struggling to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary, I felt more physically drained, being ignored by someone as I handed them a brochure left me embarrassed, I felt more vulnerable in my bright green shirt and through my public witness, and overall, I just wanted to crawl into a hole. This is how the devil works though. He knows our weakest point and will use it to cripple us entirely.
In the midst of this though, God’s grace came through. A few of the girls sacrificed their own sleep and stayed up with me till 1am one night to lend me an ear and a shoulder to cry on. Hugs and supportive words were in plentitude. Telling riddles and singing lightened moods. I noticed we were all concerned for the well being of each other. If someone seemed to be distancing themselves or a bit down, there was usually a fellow walker there to ask how they were doing and how they could help. Despite all of us having our own trials, we all watched out for each other.
To me, this is part and parcel of the Gospel of Life and the pro-life attitude: The prayers that we said for each other, for all those people that wrote intentions on cards at weekend Masses, for the babies and the mothers, for those we encountered on the streets, as well as all the prayers that were being said for us by parishioners that heard us speak or the people that saw us walk through and were in solidarity to our efforts. We are all trying to live the pro-life message to its fullest extent. We all individually are inundated with the battles of life. Relaxing times and an easy life are rare. Being pro-life is so importantly about ending abortion, but we as soldiers in this battle must keep finding our strength in ourselves, in each other, and most importantly, in God, whom without we have no hope of success. We trust in His strength to overcome these battles and participate by not only receiving, but acting as a conduit of that grace and strength to the rest of the world.
By Catherine Seiwertread more
Last night Katharine and I stayed with an absolutely lovely couple called Elizabeth and John Reeves in Kiama, who fed us steak and cantalope and ice-cream, and kept telling me to put my feet up because I’d walked so far… the highlight of this stay was, of course, the glee with which I would boast to the other walkers in the morning, although unfortunately they all got amazing families too, which marred my joy somewhat.
Today was Chris’s birthday- Chris from the Gold Coast, that is, and he turned 22, like James and myself. After morning Mass, the lovely parishioners had a cup of tea with us in the parish Hall, and we thrust a flaming chocolate cake upon Chris, which I’m sure he never saw coming, despite a large group of us mysteriously disappearing into the kitchen and shouting frantically at each other in hushed tones.
Once we hit the road we walked a stint of about 4km before bussing it to Goulburn, where we walked another stretch. It was a rather long drive, and James and Victor, our resident orators, had a verbal wrestling match as they discovered that they love to debate anything and everything.
Once in Goulburn, Victor and I didn’t walk, as we had to drive the RV ahead to our destination for the night, which was a pretty little town called Tarago (yes, I can hardly believe it either, but they are STILL asking me to drive that beast). My highlight of the day was when we made a wrong turn, and in order to correct this, found ourselves on a windy little laneway, on which we were confronted with a low hanging bridge. Victor had to get out of the RV and talk me through driving underneath, inch by inch, whilst I awaited the sickening crunch of the roof peeling off above me at every moment. At one stage a car had to pass us- they were freaking out, I was freaking out, Victor was as cool as a cucumber. God bless him.
Once we were back on the open road, rolling along behind some ludicrous commuter who was doing 85 on a 110 highway, with no less than six vehicles behind, all held captive to this person’s desired speed limit, and no doubt blaming the lumbering RV which is huge enough to hide the real culprit from their vision, our day got even better. The power on Victor’s phone/GPS died, and all of a sudden we found ourselves in the middle of the barren countryside with no way of contacting a soul (my phone having maliciously died a day earlier, as if in cahoots with its charger, which hid from me while I was packing). Victor was once again the level- headed one of the two of us, assuring me that we would not perish. I had to agree that it was pretty unlikely that God’s plan for us was to perish on the side of the road somewhere between Goulburn and Tarago, and decided that if Tarago didn’t make itself known, we would just keep on driving until we got to Melbourne and then we could stay at my place for the night. Victor proved right yet again, however, and the town of Tarago rose up to meet us. Now when I say town, perhaps I should clarify: it is approximately one street intersecting with the highway, with a pub on the corner, a footy oval opposite, scattered houses and a hall in which we stayed.
It is a beautiful part of the world, with one of the most lovely sunsets I have ever seen, a rosy dawn, a clear view of the stars, and rolling, rugged hills. During the day, however, it is stinking hot. Shortly after our arrival James and I took the bus to pick up John from Goulburn train station, who was rejoining us after a few days away. Upon our return, Allison informed us that we had less than half an hour before the pub closed, the significance of this being that the pub contained the only shower available to us within a thousand kilometres, which we had rented for four bucks a shower, and three guys plus myself desperately needed to use it. (Actually, perhaps the desperation was localised within myself- I can’t speak for the guys, but I know that I was sporting my own odourous atmosphere at that point and that native animals were being drawn by my scent). As I walked to the pub with James I decided to put “Have a shower at a pub” on my bucket list, as it was very soon to be fulfilled.
Dinner that night was sensational, with a very generous man named Paul Foley having supplied us with it all: Roast chicken, salads, spuds, bread, plenty of drinks, cakes for dessert and egg and bacon for breakfast. The hall provided oodles of amusement with a table tennis table, some kind of indoor lawn bowls, fussball and even air-hockey. I realised that I had reverted to my ten year old self somewhere between stealing cake from somebody else’s plate, shirking the dishes and running to have a swig of fanta before getting back to my game of fussball with Ellen. There was a stage upon which James and Victor settled their disagreements with a very loud and somewhat theatrical debate.
Chris was a pleasure to be around on his birthday, always making peace and putting others before himself, and even tolerating the excessive amount of times he was sung Happy Birthday, usually out of key.
A group of us said the rosary under the stars, which may have even actually topped my bridge adventure with Victor. The bathrooms were outdoors, and I think a couple of the guys slept outdoors as well. We all crashed in our sleeping bags on the floor at about midnight, and despite the luminous exit sign, a couple of vicious mozzies and some snoring which I will not admit to, I, unlike a couple of the others, slept like a lamb.
Angela Schumannread more
Yesterday we visited our nation’s Capital and walked past many of its famous sites. What had the most meaning for me was our visit to the Australian United states war memorial.
The memorial remembers the Australian and American soldiers who have died fighting side by side in wars against tyranny, terror and injustice. In Australia’s hour of need, after it was abandoned by the mother country, America was there. The United states were prepared to sacrifice the blood of their own sons to defend Australian shores. Australians will never forget what America did for us and I can assure you that to this day America has no greater friend or Ally.
Fortunately the advent of crossroads Australia shows that the alliance between the Aussie and American Pro Life communities is equally as strong. There was no reason that crossroads HAD to come out to Australia. They could have spent their time and resources on their own country but the point is they didn’t. Like the Marines before them they have come out to save Australian lives. recognising that abortion is a global evil not confined to one nations borders.
Just like Australia will always be a fiend to America, so will Pro life Australians also be friends with our Pro life counterparts in the United states. We will always stand ready to assist in any way possible to fight abortion no matter what the earthly jurisdiction.
God Bless America
God Bless Australia
And many both nations eventually truly be lands of the free for all human beings no matter how old they are.
Lest we Forgetread more
Over the weekend leading up to New Year’s Day, some extremely generous parishioners of St Peter’s, Surry Hills in Sydney hosted us. I had the honour of speaking at Masses at St Mary’s Cathedral in the city – probably the most beautiful church I have ever been in. I was slightly overwhelmed walking up the steps to the entrance door and gazing up at the gargantuan spires that seemed to disappear into the heavens. Although I had given the Crossroads talk about five times already, this was easily the most nervous I had been about speaking at a Mass. The overwhelming beauty of the Cathedral reminded me once again that its more the Holy Spirit at work when we get up and tell people about what we’re doing; I didn’t have to worry about screwing up my talk because I knew, and I still know, that God wants this mission accomplished and so in my surrender to Him, He will do His thing through me! What a privilege.
I soon discovered that our New Year’s Day plans involved watching the famous Sydney fireworks, but when we caught a train and walked a couple of k’s into the middle of the bush to emerge onto a little cliff that had the second-best view of the spectacle, I knew it was going to be a New Year’s eve to remember. The little cliff somehow ended up holding about 74 people – all packed like sardines – without collapsing, or anyone falling off the edge. If you ask me, I reckon that was because we had the prayers of Fr Bill on the premises with us. There were two lots of fireworks, and they did not disappoint. They went for about ten minutes each and even included explosions of Aussie animal shapes.
After a trek back to the train station with no shoes because my sock-covered feet got wet in some spilled water (or possibly some other beverage?) I was happy to jump into bed at about 2:30am knowing that there would be a long walk ahead in Sydney the following day.
Love and prayers,
The first ever Australian Crossroads pro-life walk has set off after a final mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral in the heart of Brisbane. The Crossroads walkers received their blessing from the Dean of Brisbane, the Very Reverend Kenneth Howell, and were on their way.
It’s currently summer in the southern hemisphere, so the weather is hot, cooling though as the walkers make their way away from the equator, travelling south to Sydney and on to Melbourne.
Apart from a setback when their support vehicle was broken into and luggage stolen, the team is still in high spirits and doing well. They will finish in Melbourne in just under four weeks time.
Life Site News caught up with organizer Allison Lattie to record this video.
Each year, I have one week where I have it good, as my birthday falls just six days before Christmas. This year, I spent that week on Crossroads. Despite my best efforts to hide the date from my team, someone did eventually work out it was my birthday and blurted it out while we were having an audience with a group of cloistered Carmelite nuns in Lismore. The entire gathering then proceeded to sing me happy birthday, I think it’s safe to say that it will be one of the holiest happy birthdays I will ever have sung to me. That night I was (semi) surprised with a mud cake which we proceeded to eat directly from it’s plate without bothering to serve it out. This may seem a little weird to some but I’m sure anyone who has done Crossroads before can relate. In all seriousness though, I was blessed to spend my 22nd birthday with such wonderful people. Everyone went out of their way to make my day special and I don’t think I will ever have such a Pro-life birthday ever again.
Spending my birthday on Crossroads was a great opportunity to reflect on what we are actually doing this walk for. I was on the phone to a friend and as a passing comment I mentioned I felt lucky that it was my birthday. He responded by saying that that was dumb because everyone has a birthday. To which I simply said “no they don’t.” The truth is Birthdays are something we take for granted, we just assume that everyone has one but the reality is that millions of babies are killed every year before they are able to celebrate their first. We are walking so that every child has the chance to be born and has the opportunity to blow out candles once a year.
Christmas on Crossroads was also a joyful experience but I will leave the details to my teammate Chris who has blogged extensively about our day just above this post. What I will say is that missing Christmas with your family is a great way to find out how much you actually love them. You don’t realize just how important your family are to you until you aren’t with them. My missing Christmas this year is a sacrifice both I and my family were willing to make in order to help spread the message of life and while it hasn’t been easy, it seems insignificant when you realize that many babies will never get to spend christmas with families.
If you told me a few months ago that I’d be spending Christmas in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of people I’d only met a couple of weeks ago, I can imagine myself laughing in your face. Now I am laughing at myself at the crazy adventure that God has taken me on because I said yes to him.
It is the end of Christmas day now, and I am still in awe; in awe of what God is teaching me through my amazing teammates; in awe of the hospitality we have received from host families in Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Newcastle and here in Denman from the Hopkins family (where we have eaten possibly the most illustrious Christmas feast ever cooked); in awe of the beauty of my adopted home, Australia.
In terms of material Christmas presents, I received those a few weeks back in the form of good walking shoes, shorts, skins and other gear for the walk, and I am extremely grateful for these practical gifts from my beautiful family. But, since this walk has begun I feel like the more I choose to give the Lord, the more He gives me – like everyday I am receiving gifts from Him as He takes me on this crazy journey called Crossroads. The fact that we are pretty much the guinea pig walk here in Australia and that everything is just so unpredictable does wonders for one’s personal faith. Who do you trust when you don’t know where you’re going to sleep tomorrow night? When you don’t know what kind of abuse will be hurled at you walking down the street or praying outside abortion clinics in luminous pro-life shirts?
I think a good ‘ol pro and con list of Christmas time sums up my current feelings:
- magnificent food
- a roof over our heads
- awesome company
- It’s Jesus’ birthday!!!!!
- It’s my first Christmas away from family (love you guys!)
- last night it was about 35 degrees C in our bedroom
- now, our bedroom has been taken over by Frances’ brothers. There are multiple game consoles running simultaneously, as well as youtube videos of guys wiping out on skateboards…this is kind of amusing so I don’t know if it’s really a con?
- We don’t know when/where we will get to Mass tomorrow…pray for us!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight =D
Peace, love and blessings,
Chris Da Silva
The Catholic Leader
A GROUP of young people are devoting their Christmas break to a pro-life walk from Brisbane to Melbourne.
The 10 people, aged 18 to 30 years, have volunteered for the Crossroads pilgrimage that will involve walking from Brisbane to Melbourne in four weeks.
Fr Hilary Flynn, a priest of the Cairns diocese who is a Crossroads supporter and has completed the pilgrimage overseas, said the aim was for young, pro-life Catholics to spread the culture of life, in response to the call of Pope John Paul II.
This is the first Crossroads pilgrimage to be held in Australia.
The group left Brisbane on December 17, and the pilgrimage will end with Mass and a pro-life rally in Melbourne on January 12.
The Crossroads website said the Mass and rally would be the launch-pad for a campaign to overturn Section 8 of Victoria’s abortion laws.
On their way to Melbourne, the group will stop in Newcastle, Sydney and Canberra, and many towns in between.
The Crossroads website said the group would be “trained to speak in parishes, witness respectfully at abortion clinics and communicate with the media”.
Fr Flynn said Crossroads began in 1995 when a group of students from Stuebenville Franciscan University, Ohio, United States, “wondered could they walk 5000km in a hundred days as a prayer to God for the pro-life cause? Would they be allowed by the police? Could they physically do it? Could they emotionally do it? They did it, to their surprise”.
He said since then, he had joined in three more Crossroads pilgrimages and one around Ireland in June this year.
“This is a call for prayer for these brave youth doing this in Australia for their first time here,” Fr Flynn said.
“Prayer is needed for their basic safety, co-operation by the police and road legislators, peace for their parents at home and a successful outcome over these four weeks.
“May Crossroads Australia be one of the building bricks for the building of the kingdom during this Year of Grace.
“So I encourage you to please pray for them and for pro-life Australia before and after Christmas.”read more
Crossroads December 17th
Surf Lifesaving Club Cabarina Beach NSW
Wow, what an insanely hectic day. I feel like it packed itself so full on purpose, just out of spite, because it knew that I would have to blog about it all at the end!
We have had both successes and tragedies. We all had to get up at 5am (already a tragedy for me!), pack our stuff, say morning prayer and get to Mass at the Cathedral for 8am Mass. Afterwards we were joined by three brave young people who accompanied us for the day’s walking, and a man from Life Site News who did some filming.
We completed the day’s walking, not as planned, and reached our destination at Cabarina Beach.
I guess the easiest way to sum up today is by listing its awesome events and its tragic events, as it was full of such reeling highs and lows.
Let’s start with the bad news:
- The RV camper van was broken into while we were at Mass
- Bec, who is filming us and has been working on her documentary since April, had her bag stolen, with the hardrive, which had all of her work on it since then, gone. She has no backup, it is lost.
- Stephen also had his bag stolen, but it contained only undies.
- While the majority of us continued on and walked those who stayed behind in the RV had a power loss with the cigarette lighter, which meant that not only was their GPS completely dead, but all of their phones, which uncannily all ran out of battery, could not be recharged, and so we couldn’t reach them.
It is clear that the devil does not want us to do this work.
Now for the good news:
- We completed our first day of Crossroads walking! Woo!
- None of the other bags were stolen
- One of the guys, Luke, who joined us for the day, donated to us a guitar! He even put new strings on it for us.
- We all made it safely here and met up at the Lifesaving club
- We had fish and chips On the balcony overlooking the beach and most of us went for a swim
- Miryjana joined us tonight- John and I picked her up from the airport.
We are all ridiculously tired, and have another early start, but our walk leaders are doing an absolutely incredible job- truly I think we are all in awe of them. Bec handled her loss with amazing maturity and forbearance, and is going to continue to film. I’m very proud of her for handling it so well.
I think the lesson of the day is perseverance. It’s been a toughy, but God is stronger, and He wants us here. We got a lot of encouragement from passing vehicles while we were walking, and a couple of bystanders as well, which was really uplifting.
“It was then that I carried you”.
The first day of Crossroads Australia has got to be one of the most random days of my life. Having been trained up and receiving overwhelming support from parishes and communities around Brisbane, I think I can speak for the entire team when I say we were rearing to hit the road. We woke up to bright sunshine at 5am, after which I have never packed my own stuff, let alone a RV, with such efficiency. The angels were at work!
On our way to St Stephen’s Cathedral our support van had a minor accident, but once again the angels were with us and we got away no problems! After Mass and some interviews with Lifesite News we finally began walking and praying through Brisbane CBD and across Victoria Bridge. We reached the RV to discover an open window and two stolen bags. Spiritual attack much?! I became the police liason person by default because I was the first person to reach for my phone, and subsequently our groups separated and the walk continued while myself, Daniel, Bec and Stephen made our way haphazardly down the coast. To sum up just how eventful the rest of our afternoon was, the most exciting moment for me would have to be the completely flourescent-lit men’s room which made my already bright shirt impossible to look at without squinting; I had to take a selfy. After walking through some shopping centres to repair stolen goods, and nearly falling asleep on the floor of a cinema lobby, we reached our accomodation in the quaint town of Cabarita Beach, New South Wales. Things have definitely improved since arrving here; we have swam, showered and visited the pub in our PJ’s!! Looking forward to actually walking a leg or two tomorrow, and continuing to take our faith to the streets for the sake of the babies, the mamas and the Kingdom of God.
Hope you have enjoyed my first blogging effort of the trip. Everyone is going to sleep now so I’m pretty keen to jump on that bandwagon
Praise the Lord