MANITOBA – The group of pro-life youth that started this year's Crossroads Canada pro-life walk on May 26th by dipping their feet into the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver's Kitsilano Beach, are now past Regina, Saskatchewan. Soon they will cross over into Manitoba in their summer-long test of stamina and willingness to suffer to bring the message of life to those they meet on the way.
“Abortion is one of the most important battles of our day, but not enough people are speaking about it,” said Jean-Pierre (JP) Giguere, a native of Cornwall, Ontario and a graduate of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom in Barry's Bay, Ontario, in an online journal he is writing as part of his journey.
“Life is the first human right, but hundreds of thousands of babies are aborted every year in Canada. These are brothers and sisters who will never see the light of day. My mission is to bring the pro-life message to as many people as possible this summer,” Giguere said.
Participants in Crossroads, which was founded in 1995, walk in shifts through the night and day wearing t-shirts with “Pro-Life” written in giant letters to attract attention. They speak at parishes, with the media, and with those they meet along the way. Other duties include praying and counseling outside of abortion clinics.
“The parishes we have passed through are incredible,” said one of the walkers on the Crossroads Canada blog. “We have had families crying and thanking us for what we’ve done, even though to us it doesn’t feel like much.
“However what we all realize is that the mere fact that we are witnessing loudly, in an age that doesn’t speak any higher than a whisper, brings hope and we sometimes don’t have enough hope to run on.”
The Crossroads Canada walkers will trek to Montreal by the second week of August and then head back westward to arrive in Ottawa for an August 16 pro-life rally on Parliament Hill.
Another walker reflected on changes she has experienced within herself as a result of walking for life across the vast expanse of Canada.
“Being on Crossroads is teaching me not to take for granted the seemingly small things in life,” said Christine Connell, a student at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom.
“There are so many things that happen that make my day and give me the encouragement I need to take the next step, to keep going,” Christine explained, giving examples of friendly waves from strangers, families welcoming the weary walkers into their homes with great kindness, and the enthusiasm in young people who see their example and want to join the walk.
“I came on Crossroads to change hearts and minds, to save lives and to offer atonement for the evil of abortion. Yet I also am being changed. Not only do I have a greater appreciation for the little things in life, I also am more able to see God working through my life,” Christine said.
In a blog posting from the prairies on Friday, Giguere focused on the role of suffering – something that Crossroads walkers experience in spades as they spend hours every day walking weary miles in heat and cold, rain and sunshine – in the economy of life.
“Suffering is the most valuable resource we possess as human beings,” Giguere wrote.
He recalled meeting a family that came to a mass where the Crossroads walkers had stopped to rest, with their young daughter, who was hooked up to a breathing apparatus and a feeding tube.
“I almost began to cry at the sorry state this child was in,” he recounted. “Then I saw the family … they were the happiest looking family I have ever seen in my life.
“The parents looked tired but peaceful, and the little girl's younger sister? Hugging her throughout the entire mass and giving her big kisses and smiling at her disabled sister.
“This family would not of been half as happy without the immense suffering brought about by their disabled daughter. They had grown more in the few years of her life than any person will grow in decades,” Giguere said.
Considering the accepted practice of aborting children diagnosed in the womb with some disability, Giguere pondered, “So what happens when you kill off children … that are disabled or unwanted, who would cause an incredible amount of 'suffering'?”
“You are destroying the single most important way for you to grow as a human being,” he stated. “When you suffer, you grow because you have to change. If others are suffering with you, the entire group supports each other.”
“However,” Giguere added, “when a child is killed this entire supporting community is broken, no one needs to grow, no one needs to be compassionate, no one needs help.”
Another walker offered a reflection on why Crossroads walks have been so successful, and even “enjoyable.”
“We are not confrontational,” the walker said. “We don’t scream, we don’t chant, we simply walk and pray, serving as a quiet witness to what we know people have already in their hearts. This is personally the one reason I think Crossroads has kept going these many years on nothing but God’s grace and providence: it is because we are witnesses, disciples.”
The organizers and participants are urging pro-lifers to take the time to come to the August 16th rally and show their support for the walkers, and for the pro-life cause in Canada.
A photo and short bio on each of the Canadian walkers (scroll to the bottom of the page) can be found here.
The Canada Crossroads walkers are blogging their adventures here.
The schedule of the 2014 Crossroads Canada pro-life walk is available here.
Anyone wishing to donate toward the pro-life walkers’ expenses can do so online at www.crossroadswalk.org
By phone at 1-800-353-8817
Or by mailing a check, made out to Crossroads Pro Life, to:
PO Box 2219
Columbia, MD 21045