BY WENDY PITLICK,
Black Hills Pioneer
LEAD – At 3:30 in the morning a lone figure can be seen limping along the side of Interstate 90. His head is bent in prayer and his body is hunched over from fatigue and hunger. No, he doesn’t want a ride, but he wouldn’t mind a wave and smile of recognition for his T-shirt with his message emblazoned in large blue letters that he is carrying throughout the country.
“PRO LIFE” is what his shirt says, and his mission is to raise awareness about the sacred beauty of human life – from conception to natural death. He is a walker for Crossroads, an annual pro-life pilgrimage comprised of youth who walk in three separate groups across the United States to deliver their peaceful message of preserving all human life.
“I think the main mission is prayer and sacrifice,” said Crossroads walker Dan Fioramonti, of West Palm Beach, Fla. “When we’re walking that’s really what it is because on the day shift we’re wearing those big pro-life shirts and people (wave) at us. But on the night shift you’re just limping along the highway at 3:30 in the morning. It’s really just mortifying yourself and offering your sufferings up to God for the end of abortion. That’s what we do. That’s our main mission.”
Last weekend Fioramonti along with two of his Crossroads colleagues stopped off at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Lead to spread their pro-life message and generate support for their efforts. For the last 12 years the movement has operated as a non-profit organization, operating mostly by donations from Catholics across the country.
This year’s Crossroads pilgrimage includes the Northern, Central and Southern walks, each with a different route that covers the entire country. According to Crossroads literature, with approximately 12 participants in each group this year, walkers take 10-hour shifts every day. During that time they cover approximately 20 miles.
At the end of the walk, each participant will have hiked at least 800 miles or more as they meet all the other walkers from different groups in Washington, for the grand finale of the summer. Then, while in Washington the group will attend church services at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and stage a peaceful, prayerful rally in front of the Supreme Court.
By the time everyone is done, the walkers will have logged a total of 3,200 miles for pro-life awareness.
“It sounds overwhelming, but if you just go by it week by week (it’s not so bad),” Crossroads participant Chris Johnson, of Billings, Mont. said. Johnson said his Northern group started out in Seattle, Wash. on May 20. The group was camping out in their support RV in Rapid City when they visited Lead June 18. From Rapid City, he said they would move on to their next stop in Brookings.
Along his trip, Johnson said he was thankful to have experienced a great deal of support from many people. At least 90 to 95 percent of the people he had encountered on his walk so far, Johnson said, were very supportive. “America is overall pro-life, from what I’ve seen along the way,” he said. Fioramonti nodded his head in agreement. “What has been striking me over and over again along this trip is just how generous and encouraging people can be,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of the comments we get are positive. People just stop on the highways to encourage us, or wave and say God Bless. It’s just very supportive.”
Though this is the 12th year Crossroads has been organizing this pilgrimage across the country, Johnson said it is rare that youth will participate in the walk more than once due to the extreme time commitment it requires. But each year new youth join the legacy of walkers for various reasons. For Jamie Racki, of Illinois, that reason was just to fulfill a burning need to do something more to help preserve human life.
“I have always wanted to do something more for the pro-life cause, to do something that I felt was meaningful,” she said. “This was the best thing I have come across so far. I feel like Crossroads really does something and it’s important.”
Fioramonti agreed when he said, “I decided to give up this summer and walk on Crossroads to become more involved with the pro-life movement. I felt very drawn to the spirit of sacrifice and prayer that the time spent on the road offers.”
For more information about Crossroads, or to become involved with a Crossroads pilgrimage, visit twww.crossroadswalk.org.