Pro-Lifers Near End of Cross-Country Journey

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By Mary Ann Wyand
Catholic News Service

INDIANAPOLIS – “It’s difficult to walk in the heat, but what keeps all of us going, I think, is knowing that the purpose of our pilgrimage is to witness to life,” said Missourian Dennis Stoll, one of more than 40 young people who have spent much of the summer walking across the country for the pro-life cause.

Each summer, college-age walkers spread the pro-life message as they pray at abortion clinics in cities and towns along their route, attend daily Mass, recite the rosary and pray for a change in the culture to bring an end to abortion.

“Crossroads Pro-Life Walk Across America” sponsors three walks that take place simultaneously. The northern walk starts in Seattle and goes through Billings, Mont., Minneapolis and Cleveland, among other places. The central walk begins in San Francisco and some of the cities on the route are Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Kan., and Indianapolis. The southern walk skirts the bottom of the country, originating in Los Angeles, and stops include Phoenix, Dallas and Atlanta.

All three walks, which began May 19, were scheduled to merge Aug. 12 in Washington for a rally on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Stoll, a member of Most Sacred Heart Parish in Florissant, Mo., who graduated last May from St. Louis University, and the other participants in the central walk came through Indianapolis July 20. They were happy that a day earlier President George W. Bush vetoed legislation that would have expanded federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.

Human embryos are babies no matter how small they are, the Crossroads walkers emphasized in an interview with The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese. They wore T-shirts that proclaimed: “Taking Steps to Save Lives.”

“I congratulate President Bush for taking a stand against the destruction of life,” Stoll said. “I think that takes a lot of guts. He did what needed to be done, and now life will be protected at the earliest stage, which is great. Embryonic stem-cell research is presented in a very deceptive way (by advocates). It’s the destruction of human life in its earliest form.”

About the cross-country trek, he said, “There are a lot of challenges and difficulties, but … maybe someone (considering abortion) will see us along the way and it might make a difference in their life. It may be a matter of life and death. Who knows? We’ll never know until we meet God one day.”

Walker Ellie Delahunt of Chicago, a May graduate of the University of Illinois in Champaign, also praised Bush for his veto.

The Crossroads pilgrimage has shown her the reality of “the fight of good against evil,” she said.

“I can really feel God’s presence when we’re walking. I feel like the Blessed Virgin is kind of hovering there and protecting us,” she said. “It was amazing to see how many times that the devil has been trying to knock us down with injuries. It was really hard for our other walkers because there weren’t enough people, but with all the prayers and the grace, we’ve made it through so far.”

Delahunt said it has been “so amazing to see the support that we get when we walk across America, whether it’s just somebody driving by and handing us money out of their car window to support our cause, or priests and people at parishes giving us hugs when we give a talk.”

Erik Ortez, a member of St. Patrick Parish in the Diocese of Sacramento, Calif., joined the pro-life walk June 3 after hearing the Crossroads volunteers speak in his hometown.

“It’s a sacrifice, but it’s something that will make me a better person,” Ortez said. “I can proclaim to the entire country about how the pro-life movement needs more people like us walking for life.”

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