Annual Cross-Country Trek Inspired by Pope’s Words

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By, Ed López

Annual cross-country trek inspired by pope’s words at `93 World Youth Day

Seminarian Erik Feltes, who grew up near Winter Park, is among a number of college-age students who are walking across the country to raise awareness of the pro-life cause.

“Life in its most basic form must be defended,” said Feltes, a seminarian in Minnesota who will transfer this fall to St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.

Crossroads, an organization that seeks to witness to the sanctity of human life during the 3,000-mile trek, sponsors the cross-country walk, which began last month in San Francisco and will end in the nation’s capital in August.

Steve Sanborn, then a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, started Crossroads nearly a decade ago. Sanborn attended Denver’s World Youth Day and was struck by the words of the Holy Father:

“The Church needs your enthusiasm, your youthful ideas, in order to make the Gospel of life penetrate the fabric of society.”

Since 1995, the year of the first walk, more than 200 students have completed the coast-to-coast journey as part of their effort to educate the nation’s youth. They have spoken at parishes and availed themselves of any opportunity to spread their message through the media.

As they made their way through Denver last Friday through Sunday, Crossroads walkers spoke at seven parishes as well as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

They also prayed in front of an abortion clinic in Boulder and at a Planned Parenthood office in Denver. In addition, they held an informational “town hall” at the Knights of Columbus building in downtown Denver Friday evening.

Mark Thomason of Denver, another Crossroads participant, helped to coordinate many of the group’s activities in the city. The walkers slept on the gym floor of St. Louis Catholic School.

Thomason recalled that it was his retired father who brought him into the pro-life movement by taking him to prayer vigils at abortion clinics. He also got further involved after attending World Youth Day in 2000.

“I just jumped at it,” he said of his multi-year involvement with Crossroads.

Feltes said the reaction from the public to the walk has been mostly positive.

“We’ve had tons of thumbs-up and waves (from passing motorists),” he said. “People will stop and ask of we’re OK or if we need water.

“It’s a walk of faith,” he said. “We put our faith that God will get us safely to the next place.”

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