National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Even in Dark Moments, Pro-Life Walkers Feel God’s Presence

Cross-country journeyers have logged more than 1,000 miles

BY Joseph Flipper

July 12, 1998 Issue | Posted 7/12/98 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 third installment of a journal series by Joseph Flipper, a participant in the three-month journey.

We have been walking across the country for six weeks now and have logged more than 1,000 miles, from San Francisco to Denver, Colo.

The Crossroads delegation has 16 college students and graduates who are in the process of walking to Washington, D.C. as witnesses to the sanctity of human life. Along the way we pray and protest in front of abortion clinics, meet with local pro-life leaders, and speak with youth groups and with parishes.

We left Salt Lake City June 19 after speaking at many parishes about the mission we all have to protect human life, from conception to natural death. Among the many parishes where we spoke was St. Vincent de Paul, where Father Thomas Kaiser inspired us with his great love for Christ—a love that seemed to emanate from every pore.

From there we walked day and night, each of us taking a shift in order to reach Denver within a week. Crossroads hiked about 75 miles each day through the Rocky Mountains and over mountain passes reaching up to 11,000 feet into the atmosphere.

Upon reaching Denver we were blessed to stay at Christ the King parish in Evergreen, Colo. We spoke about chastity and human dignity issues to the youth group. They responded enthusiastically, and the group discussion was followed by a water fight.

We also had the opportunity to speak to youth that had accompanied their parents to homeschooling and Natural Family Planning (NFP) conferences. At the conference we joined an organization called Radix in evangelizing the youth and informing them of the importance of chastity. Many of the youth clearly see the present decadence of our society and realize that the only hope we have is found in Christ. They also realize that the practice of chastity forms the basis of a happy marriage.

We also met with John Kippley of the Cincinnati, Ohio-based Couple to Couple League, a leading organization in promoting NFP and natural child rearing methods.

Nothing is more enjoyable or profitable than speaking with youth, since they will soon walk in our footsteps. We have come to understand what those who have worked in the pro-life movement see when they look at Crossroads. We have been put into contact with Catholics who are both older and younger than we are, with those who have worked decades for the sake of human life, and with those whose lives may have been saved by the efforts of the former.

Young people walked in the footsteps of Crossroads when the Life Teen youth group of Brighton, Colo., joined us for a day. We met them at Mother Cabrini Shrine near Denver, where the region's pro-life community held a picnic for us. They are a group of teenagers who are on fire for the Lord, devoted to the Eucharist, committed to Mary, and united in faith.

In addition to speaking with youth, we spend a lot of time in front of abortion clinics. At a Planned Parenthood clinic in Denver, we joined our Protestant brothers and sisters in prayer and protest. Two young women at the site carried babies. Both babies had been spared from abortion due to pro-lifers' efforts.

Crossroads also went to the Colorado Springs Abortion Clinic, run by Warren Hearn, the author of a textbook detailing many abortion procedures. As we prayed before the clinic doors, we were maligned by some passers-by who jeered, “Don't you have anything better to do?” or “Get a job!” Others yelled expletives at us or honked angrily as they drove by.

The power to change the world is in the hands of God, a fact that is at the heart of the Crossroads's mission. Our purpose to change hearts is realized in our weakness, when we find our strength in God.

This is why we are joyful while enduring such minor persecutions. Because the power of our activism is found in God, even when we feel weak and ineffective we know that our prayers will change hearts. This is why there is so much to be admired in those Christians who have fought tirelessly against abortion for decades, even when the answer to their prayers could not immediately be seen.

Everywhere Crossroads has gone, we have found much to be sorrowful about, but we have seen much that is a cause for hope. When speaking to youth, we have met many that not only abhor abortion, but who also desire to live chaste and holy lives. We have witnessed the perseverance of Catholics involved in pro-life activities, in clinic outreach, in praying daily, and in raising good children. The witness of Catholics united in their faith is one that can change the world.

Our travel plans now include walking to Lincoln, Neb., where we will meet with Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. From there, we will be trekking through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia on our way to Washington.

If you would like more information about where and when Crossroads will be this summer, please call 1-800-277-9763. We are willing to speak to parishes, conferences, and especially youth groups. If you would like to help us financially, our mailing address is Box 771, Franciscan University, Steubenville, OH 43952. And please pray for us.

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