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Crossroads: young people spread the message of life and love

AD2000 – A Journal of Religious Opinion

Angela Schumann

As St Paul tells us (Romans 12:6), “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.”

One of the strengths of the pro-life movement is its many-pronged approach. While it is essential that all pro-lifers share the same goal, namely the safety of and respect for the sanctity and dignity of human life, there are many different fronts on which the battle must be fought.

Some are called to fight for pro-life laws in our parliaments; some for just representation in the media; some to touch people’s hearts and minds through personal encounters or through example; some to teach pro-life values in schools; some to give practical crisis pregnancy support; some to counsel; some to witness; and some to pray.

Power of youth

The young have a special power to attract people’s attention, for the youth are the future and when they take action on an issue, more people are likely to listen.

At World Youth Day in 1993, Blessed Pope John Paul II called upon them to use this power: “Young pilgrims, Christ needs you to enlighten the world and to show it the ‘path to life’ (Ps 16:11). Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places like the first apostles, who preached Christ and the good news of salvation in the squares of cities, towns and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel (cf Rom 1:16). It is the time to preach it from the rooftops (cf Mt 10:27).

“Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern ‘metropolis.’ It is you who must ‘go out into the byroads’ (Mt 22:9) and invite everyone you meet to the banquet which God has prepared for his people. The Gospel must not be kept hidden because of fear or indifference. It was never meant to be hidden away in private. It has to be put on a stand so that people may see its light and give praise to our heavenly Father (cf Mt 5:15-16).”

Crossroads is a direct response to this call.

Crossroads is a Catholic group that sponsors annual summer pro-life walks for 18-30 year olds across their countries. Starting in the USA in 1995, Crossroads sent a small group of young people from the west to the east coast of America on a six week pilgrimage, spreading the pro-life message and evangelising at a grassroots level.

Now, as the movement has spread, Crossroads supports young adults on four simultaneous pro-life summer walks across America from Seattle, San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles to Washington, DC, walking over 12,000 miles and through 40 states. It also sponsors annual walks across Canada, Ireland and Spain.

Crossroads explains its role and purpose as follows: “During our pilgrimages … we strive always to join our efforts, prayers and small sacrifices with the sufferings of Christ-crucified for the sake of all, born and unborn.

“We also speak to parish groups to encourage pro-life activism in their communities.

“… we stop at local abortion clinics along the route to participate in prayerful, peaceful protests and sidewalk counselling.

“Crossroads recognises the need to spread the message of life and love through the means that the modern world provides. We actively participate in radio, television and newspaper interviews with the mainstream media as well as religious media outlets.

“Each young adult who takes on the challenge of walking across our country with Crossroads is an integral part of the ministry.”

This December Crossroads is launching its first ever pro-life walk across Australia.

From 15 December 2012 to 13 January 2013, a group of young people will walk from Brisbane to Melbourne in what will be the longest pro-life walk our country has ever seen. Over four weeks, the group will target Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and multiple towns in between.

The walk requires approximately 10 core young participants who will commit to the entire journey, often walking in shifts and accompanied by a caravan and support vehicles. They will be trained to speak in parishes, witness respectfully at abortion clinics and communicate with the media. In addition to them, pro-life people of goodwill are invited to join in for as much or as little of the walk as they can, at any point along the way.

Prayerful witness

The journey will end with Mass and a pro-life rally in Melbourne on Saturday 12 January, which will be the launch-pad for a campaign to overturn Section 8 of Victoria’s abortion laws (the second worst in the world behind only China’s), which violates the rights of doctors’ consciences to refuse participation in an abortion, which is now legal up until birth.

The prayerful witness of the Crossroads pilgrims has caused turn-arounds, changed hearts and minds, and saved lives.