National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Pro-life Walkers Turn Hearts And Minds in St. Louis

Youth on cross-country journey witness fruit of their efforts

BY Joseph Flipper

August 09-15, 1998 Issue | Posted 8/9/98 at 2:00 PM


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 fifth installment in a journal series by Joseph Flipper, a participant in the three-month journey.

The Crossroads walkers entered St. Louis, Mo., in late July, setting up our base of operations at the home of Crossroads member Andrew Daub. Eight of his brothers and sisters live at home, undoubtedly making it the busiest house in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The entire Daub family joined us for the many of activities while in the city.

While in St. Louis, we were joined by Father Peter West of Priests for Life, an organization devoted to helping priests become more active in the pro-life movement (see “Group Focused on ‘Most Fundamental’Moral Issue,” July 19-25). He is the first priest to accompany us this summer, and we were happy to have him along on the journey.

Crossroads members were invited by local pro-lifers to demonstrate and pray before a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. While there, we spoke with many people entering the clinic, security guards, clinic workers, and to passers-by. We also witnessed the most miraculous event of the summer: the conversion of hearts and minds. Though we are often unable to see how our efforts affect those with whom we come into contact, at this abortion clinic we were blessed to witness two women turn towards life.

For an entire morning we were utterly powerless to stop women from entering the clinic. We felt helpless as we watched a woman limp out of the facility, holding her stomach and being escorted to a car driven by her boyfriend. As the car passed by, we saw that she was slumped over in the passenger seat crying. We could do nothing.

Another woman, who entered the clinic with a young boy, was unmoved by pro-lifers who stood praying for her only 30 yards away. About 15 minutes later she exited the clinic, escorted by a security officer who took her to a bus stop a block away. We later learned that she had left the clinic because she forgot her checkbook and had no way to pay for the abortion. Camille Murphy, a Crossroads veteran and another team member walked over to speak with her.

The woman seemed uninterested in speaking with them at first, though she eventually acknowledged that it was a baby she planned to abort, indicating that she was under pressure from her boyfriend to do so. Camille told her of the alternatives to abortion and of the many people who would assist in her needs and those of her child.

She remained unmoved by their pleas until another woman who had just left the clinic, walked past.

“Did you decide to not have an abortion?” the first woman asked.

The other woman smiled, said, “Yes,” and kept walking.

Camille said that tears began welling up in the woman's eyes. She wanted to keep her child, but was afraid of potential repercussions from her boyfriend. She asked our team members' to help her avoid her boyfriend.

Joined by Father West, they went to the Daub's house, where they ate lunch and watched some pro-life videos. As her two-year-old son played with the Daub children she was heard quietly saying, “He will make a good brother.”

Besides witnessing to the dignity of human life at abortion clinics, Crossroads members enjoyed some of the tourist-sites of St. Louis throughout the week. We went to the science museum, the outdoor theater, and the Jefferson Memorial Arch.

We were also privileged to meet Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Naumann of St. Louis who spoke of the pro-life movement from the perspective of the clerical leaders of the Church. Through these encounters, Crossroads members are coming to understand how bishops, priests, and lay people can work together to promote the culture of life.

Crossroads walked into Indiana and enjoyed a short spell of cool weather — a welcome relief from earlier experiences with heat exhaustion and other heat related problems. There we met with local pro-lifers who joined us in a march from Monument Circle to the Catholic Center in Indianapolis. At the Catholic Center, we met Joe Scheidler of Pro-Life Action League. He encouraged us and our vibrant pro-life friends from Indiana to continue to pray and demonstrate at abortion clinics.

“Mary and John the Apostle were among those present at the foot of the cross,” he said. “They didn't save Jesus from his cruel death, but they witnessed to his divinity and to his love of humanity. We can witness to the life of the unborn children and to their dignity as human beings.”

Along the way to our final destination of Washington, D.C., Crossroads will be walking through the cities of Dayton, Columbus, and Steubenville in Ohio, and Frederick in Md. We are willing to speak to parishes, conferences, and especially to youth groups. If you would like more information about Crossroads or if you would like to help our mission in any way, please contact our headquarters at Box 771, Franciscan University, Steubenville, OH, 43952; (tel.) 800-277-9763. And please pray for us.

Idaho native Joseph Flipper is a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville.