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
Crossroads Saturday 15th December 2012
This morning we did our first abortion vigil for the walk. We stood outside the Spring Hill abortion clinic with the Helpers and prayed from 7-8:45. It’s always the most sobering and confronting point of the pilgrimage, or of anything, really, I’ve found. You suddenly remember why you’re doing all of this, and everything becomes very real as you know that just metres away (we were across the road), kids are being killed and women are being broken.
It’s always a challenge as well to stand still for that long. Daniel was good in reminding us of how important it was that we focus on our prayers and giving us a few good tips on how to concentrate and not let your mind wander, as it’s so easy to do. A couple of the local Helpers came to pray with us as well, and were sidewalk counselling outside the clinic.
Afterwards we went to Mass at the Villa Maria Church nearby, and then Fr. Rego invited us to a Christmas party that Mother Theresa’s Sisters were putting on for the homeless. It was lovely. I made friends with a hilarious older man named Mel, who knew the answers to all of the trivia questions. We got to explain to quite a few people what our T-Shirts (with the very subtle “PRO LIFE” printed across the front) were about, and what we are doing.
We came home to Jill’s to have lunch and just chill out. We might go to Stephen’s soon so we can leach off his wireless internet and try and upload these blogs. Tonight we’re speaking at our first parish- the vigil Mass at St. Patrick’s in Beenleigh. Four of us are going with Allison so that she can show us the ropes, and then we’ll partner up with the other four tomorrow and go and speak at other parishes. Andrew and I are doing the Latin Mass community, which means that we will only be speaking at one Mass that morning. I confess that the lazy part of me (which is in about the same proportion as water in an iceberg lettuce) is secretly celebrating over this easy workload, although we may take one of the Masses for one of the other groups, as James said they have four.
I’m a bit nervous about the talk, just because I haven’t memorised it yet and don’t feel well prepared, so I might go and do that now so that it runs smoothly. I was initially a bit sceptical about giving a talk that I had not written, but once I read it I realised that it was exactly what I would’ve said, and so I intend to just learn it (not word-for-word obviously), but memorise the main points and then add my own personal touch.read more
Crossroads Fri 14th December 2012
Jill’s house, Brisbane
The crew are all finally here- woohoo! It feels like a really good bunch of people, and I think that the walk’s going to be great. There are nine of us all together: Allison and Daniel, our walk leaders, John (who practically is one too even if it’s not official), Stephen the American, Chris from the Gold Coast, Andrew and James from Melbourne, Dory (Frances) from Newcastle and myself.
We had a very interesting addition to our party yesterday. A young woman from Melbourne has asked to come along with us for two weeks and film us for a documentary that she’s making on the pro-life/pro-choice abortion issue. And the twist is: she herself is pro-choice. I think that as pro-lifers we are so used to being misrepresented and attacked by the media and journalists that a lot of us had an initial uneasiness about her intentions in filming us. However, from what she has told us, Bec is a remarkable person and I think that God has sent her to us for a reason.
She says that she believes that the media has not given us fair representation and that she wishes to delve deeper into the issue, on both sides, than the standard media headlines. She says she is intrigued by our conviction, and also by Catholicism, and seeks to know the reasons why we would give up our summer, and spend so much time and effort in general in pursuit of our cause. I think she is a brave woman for asking these questions when so few do, and I hope that through her work people will be able to see that we do what we do not from some kind of misguided sense of superiority, lunacy or misogyny, as so many seem to think, but for one simple reason: love- that our sisters deserve better than to go through the trauma of abortion and that their babies deserve to live.
Anyway, she is a pleasant addition to the gang, and if she can put up with my snoring, my compulsive hitting of the snooze button and my raucous sleep-cycle then I say she deserves to stay!
Yesterday was spent going over our training materials for the pilgrimage, including the talks that we are to give at the parishes. The last two days have also involved three airport trips for myself and John.
Here is the ironic bit of the trip: I’m the kind of person who could find a street sign to back into in the middle of the desert; I’m the kind of person who could get lost in my own hoodie; the only thing I’m good at driving is people insane. And yet, I’m one of only three people on this walk with a full license, who can drive the buses. Oh yes, God certainly has a sense of humour.
Thus, I have been doing the airport pickup trips, which are about an hour round trip (or would be if I didn’t keep getting lost), with good old John to mediate between the GPS and me. Let’s just say that for most of the unfortunate travellers, their first experiences of Crossroads have been me yelling at them to jump into the van and then regaling them with my colourful expletives as I negotiate the twists and turns of the city of Brisbane.
Originally us girls were going to stay in an apartment for the week, but now we’re in the house along with the guys, which is much more convenient for meeting up for training and getting to Mass together.
There is also another reason why us girls moved: On Wednesday night there was an ‘incident’. I would be dramatic and call it anti-pro-life persecution, but we actually weren’t displaying anything pro-life, so we were really just victims of a random act of hooliganism.
Allison, myself and Dory were parking the Avis van outside of the apartment, Allison pulled in toward the curb to let a car pass by, and, in true festive-season, welcome-to-Brisbane hospitality, the inhabitants supplied us with breakfast by pelting a few eggs at Allison, which came through her open window and smashed onto the inside windscreen of the van. To her credit, Allison did not indulge in the language that I use when driving the bus on the East-West Arterial Road. In her words, had they been driving along from the grocery store and spontaneously decided to reach into the carton of eggs and let a few loose at us? Or were they simply driving around on a Tuesday night with their nightly supply of car-eggs, searching for victims? So many unanswered questions…. The worst result of the whole experience, however, was not the smell in the van the next day before John cleaned it off, nor the surface of the steering wheel, which was a combination of egg goo and stress sweat as I navigated my way to the airport, oh no. It was the litany of puns that I felt morally obliged to make in the wake of the incident. They were eggxcruciating.
Today we went to 8am Mass at St. Stephen’s in the city, same as yesterday, then have had a chilled out day doing more training at the Emmanuel centre. Bec started filming. This has resulted in more inhibitions for me before I say stupid things. This is a good thing. Unfortunately it does not apply to blogging.read more