July 18, 2014

Crossroads walkers will witness to culture of life in archdiocese

In this photo from July 21, 2007, Crossroads Pro-Life walkers pose at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Indianapolis. On July 24-27, Crossroads Pro-Life walkers will again be traveling through Indiana on foot along U.S. 40 in support of the pro-life cause, speaking at Masses and praying at an abortion center. Pictured are Jason Spoolstra of Fort Worth, Texas, left; Jason Handcock of Sacramento, Calif.; Beth Ann Flessner of Madison, Miss.; Tina Hardy of Buffalo, N.Y.; Franciscan Father Dan Pattee of Steubenville, Ohio; Cassandra Blanco of Deltona, Fla.; Alzbeta Voboril of Wichita, Kan.; and William Tolsma of Niles, Mich. (Criterion file photo)

In this photo from July 21, 2007, Crossroads Pro-Life walkers pose at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Indianapolis. On July 24-27, Crossroads Pro-Life walkers will again be traveling through Indiana on foot along U.S. 40 in support of the pro-life cause, speaking at Masses and praying at an abortion center. Pictured are Jason Spoolstra of Fort Worth, Texas, left; Jason Handcock of Sacramento, Calif.; Beth Ann Flessner of Madison, Miss.; Tina Hardy of Buffalo, N.Y.; Franciscan Father Dan Pattee of Steubenville, Ohio; Cassandra Blanco of Deltona, Fla.; Alzbeta Voboril of Wichita, Kan.; and William Tolsma of Niles, Mich. (Criterion file photo)

By Natalie Hoefer

When the 12 college-aged men and women arrive in Indianapolis on July 25, they will likely be hot, tired and ready for a good meal.

That’s what one would expect of young adults who have walked roughly 2,400 miles.

But after trading in “hot dogs and sleeping in an RV” for a homemade lasagna meal and a good night’s rest in real beds, the 12 young walkers for Crossroads Pro-Life will be ready to pray at an abortion center in Indianapolis and spread their message at Masses in parishes around the city on July 26 and 27 before continuing on their journey to Washington.

The group members are walking from San Francisco to the nation’s capital—a 12-week journey of 3,200 miles—to promote the pro-life cause.

Their trek comprises the central route of Crossroads Pro-Life’s three routes across the United States. Each route begins on the west coast and ends in Washington for a pro-life rally on Aug. 16. There are also walks in Canada, Spain and Australia.

In the archdiocese, the group will walk along U.S. 40, passing through Terre Haute on July 23, Indianapolis on July 24, and Richmond on July 25, before returning to Indianapolis for the weekend of July 26-27 to pray at a Planned Parenthood abortion center and to speak at various parishes.

But there’s more to the program than walking, praying and speaking to promote the pro-life message, says James Nolan, president of Crossroads Pro-Life.

“They’re activating other youths,” he says. “They’re letting pro-life young people know there are others like them out there, and that even though the culture of death seems big, the culture of life is strong. They encourage youths to stand up for their beliefs and for the culture of life, and to not believe in the lies of the culture of death.”

This is critical, he says, as college is a time when young adults’ beliefs are challenged.

“With Crossroads, it gives them that time to solidify their beliefs, faith and pro-life position,” Nolan says. “We’ve seen a lot of amazing conversions and transformations, not just in the people they reach but in [the walkers] themselves as well.”

And as they journey across the states, says Nolan, those involved in Crossroads Pro-Life are witnesses to the strength of the pro-life culture in America.

“We’ve always found America to be a very culture-of-life country. We can say that with authority because we walk through 36 states.

“We always receive a positive response. People are happy to see these young people. I would say the pulse is overwhelmingly pro-life, based on our contact from people at the grass-roots level.”

The participants walk Monday through Friday. Half of the group walks during the day while the other half sleeps in an RV, then the shifts switch at night.

“During the week is a lot of walking and meeting people one on one,” Nolan explains. “They pray and counsel [at abortion centers] on weekends to let women know they have an alternative, and they speak at Masses and [to] youth groups.”

During this summer’s effort—the organization’s 20th summer of walking—the participants will speak in 220 Catholic churches at 1,200 Masses, says Nolan.

They will also get to experience true Hoosier hospitality.

More than 10 years ago, Kimberly and Dean Stecher of SS. Francis and Clare Parish in Greenwood heard the walkers speak at a Mass.

“We went up to them after Mass and told them how proud we were of them,” says Kimberly, who has been active in pro-life ministry with her husband, Dean, for nearly 20 years. “They shared what they do, and then we found out they were all sleeping on a basement floor [in a person’s home]. My husband said, ‘That’s just not right.’ If these were our children who gave up their whole summer, we’d want them to have a nice place to stay.”

So the couple, who have two grown children and three grandchildren, contacted the Crossroads Pro-Life organization, and every year since then they have coordinated the welcome meal, housing, transportation and farewell party for the pro-life walkers as they pass through Indianapolis.

“We pair the walkers up with a host family,” she explains. “The family takes care of their laundry, gives them a bed, cooks what [the walkers] want, and just spoils them as best they can,” says Stecher. “We just treat them like how we would want our own kids treated.”

On Sunday, the Stechers host a cookout and pool party for the participants before sending them back on the road in the evening.

Their hospitality is greatly appreciated by the walkers, and so is the planning.

“Indy has always been very welcoming to us,” says Nolan. “The archdiocese has taken an active role in finding churches and houses. Most of the time we have to plan the weekend on our own, but the Indianapolis archdiocese has always been very helpful and supportive in planning the weekend so we can make the most impact.”

This summer, the walkers will speak at Masses at SS. Francis and Clare and Our Lady of the Greenwood parishes in Greenwood, St. Monica Parish and St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Carmel, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese.

They will also go to Mass at 8:30 a.m. at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Indianapolis on July 26, then pray and minister as sidewalk counselors at the Planned Parenthood abortion center at the corner of Georgetown Road and 86th Street on the city’s northwest side.

“They renew us every year,” says Kimberly. “The fact that they have given up their entire summer to witness and spread the message of life—we’re so blessed to be part of this program.”
 

(For more information on or to donate to Crossroads Pro-Life, log on to www.crossroadswalk.org.)

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