In the May 10-16 issue, the Register reported on a cross-country pro-life walk sponsored by a student-run nonprofit organization called Crossroads (“Coast-to-Coast Walk Attracts Committed Young Pro-Lifers”). This is the second installment of a journal series by Joseph Flipper, a participant in the three-month journey.
Since May 23, Crossroads has logged 782 miles, from San Francisco to Salt Lake City, Utah. Our feet have carried us over the Sierra-Nevada mountain range and across the Nevada desert towards our final destination, Washington D.C. We have traveled along Highway 50, meeting many people on the way. Most folks bless our journey, some are opposed to anyone who is pro-life, and many are indifferent. While on the road, we have come into contact with a microcosm of humanity.
One night our support vehicle, which is used to transport the walkers to the walk site, ran out of gas. As a result the walkers, after hiking through the night, were stranded at 3:00 a.m. in the cold Nevada desert about 30 miles from our campsite. They attempted for an hour to flag down someone who could help. Finally two women decided to give them a ride into town.
As Jimmy Nolan, our walk leader, explained the prolife mission of Crossroads, it became apparent that neither of them thought highly of our efforts. One woman was pro-abortion, and the other called herself a “recovering Catholic” — that is, “recovering” from Catholicism.
Jimmy patiently endured their taunts while trying to evangelize both. Justin Schneir, a senior at Franciscan University, gave them each a handmade necklace, which softened their dispositions towards Crossroads. We continue to pray for them every day, as well as everyone we meet along the way.
Other walkers, from the areas we traverse, have joined us for parts of our journey; some spent a few days with us, some a few hours.
We enjoyed the company of one young man named Patrick, a 16-year-old Seventh Day Adventist. He was bold in sharing his faith and charitable in his actions, giving us gifts even though he seemed to have very little. Over several days he ate and prayed with us, and took us to swim in a nearby hot spring.
We also met Luke, a college student who was traveling the country on his bicycle. After inviting him to eat dinner with us, we asked him to join us and he ended up spending a few days in our company. Evidently we were a welcome presence for him; he was lonely from many days of traveling without anyone to talk to. Nobody on Crossroads ever found out what he thought of our faith or our pro-life activities, but he did say that he wished to see us again, perhaps at the end of our walk.
While in Salt Lake City we had the opportunity to pray and sidewalk counsel outside abortion clinics. We discovered, by the encouragement of passers-by, that many residents there desire the renewal of the culture of life. One woman even exclaimed, “I cannot believe that there is an abortion clinic in my neighborhood! I just didn't know.”
One morning, while praying before the doors of an abortion mill, we were continually orally battered by men who were working nearby. Mary Elizabeth Evans and Rich Scanlon spoke with women who were walking past. One woman, who was planning to abort her child — though not that morning — spoke with Rich for about 15 minutes. He empathetically but firmly told her about the realities of abortion and its alternatives, encouraging her to consider adoption.
His counseling was interrupted by the police, who came in response to a call made by the men who were taunting us. At that point, Mary Elizabeth stepped in, giving the woman a Miraculous Medal and a pamphlet on abortion. The woman eventually went into the clinic. Though she didn't immediately turn away, we continue to pray that God may use the actions of Rich and Mary Elizabeth to save the life of the child and the soul of the mother.
Crossroads has also put us before others who are in great need of hope: the poor and the homeless. While spending half a day at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in downtown Salt Lake City, we were given the opportunity to witness to many of the homeless who circulate the area looking for money or food. We ate lunch with some and talked with others who lived off the street, many of whom were Catholic. One woman I met seemed filled with hope when I gave her my rosary.
We have realized that our primary work in establishing and promoting the culture of life is to be God's instruments for changing people's hearts. The most important work that we have done so far has been spiritual: praying for the conversion of souls. We have also seen that the culture of life is extended by more than pro-life activities, but also through the faithful raising of a family, through religious devotion, and by being willing to speak the truth. May God grant us all the grace to be active participants in the culture of life.
Our new RV arrived June 19. There are large letters painted on the sides of the vehicle that read, “Crossroads: Coast to Capital Walk for Life.” If you see us along the way to Washington D.C., feel free to stop us and say hello.
March for Life founder-coordinator Nellie Gray, former presidential candidate Alan Keyes, and Priests for Life director Father Frank Pavone will be featured speaks at Crossroads's mid-August closing rally in Washington D.C. Father Pavone will be celebrating a special Mass for us at the end of our trip as well. For more information, contact our headquarters at 1-800-277-9763; or write to Crossroads, Box 771, Franciscan University, Steubenville, OH 43952.
Joseph Flipper, a native of Idaho, is a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville.