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Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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What dozens of pro-life students did this summer will inspire you

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 28. 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Throughout this summer, 39 college students have walked literally across the United States, for the cause of life and religious liberty.

These pro-life students have walked an accumulated total of over 351,000 miles across 36 states. They started in May. Some began walking from Seattle, others started from San Francisco, and another team started from Los Angeles.

Along the way, the 18-to-26 year-old volunteers talk to folks and speak at local churches about the sanctity of life.

No matter where they are, they attend church daily as they go, and after services, hand out pro-life information and take prayer requests.

They have a particular heart for youth groups, and focus especially on challenging young Christians to help build a culture of life. They also give interviews to local and national TV and radio stations, witnessing for the sanctity of innocent human life.

Prayer is a big part of the walk, as teams stop at abortion facilities for peaceful prayer and to counsel women in crisis pregnancies.

And the three groups of pro-life walkers ended their trek in Washington, D.C., on August 15th, coming together for a rally at the U.S. Capitol Building, to encourage and embolden legislators and justices to speak up and stand for life.

Jeane Mancini, president of the annual D.C. March for Life, was the keynote speaker at the Washington rally.

Mancini encouraged the walkers, telling them that the walk across America they just completed was "not the end of their pro-life journey, but only the beginning."

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She also reminded them, even in the midst of their work, to "never forget to pray."

Wearing brightly colored shirts with large letters saying, "PRO-LIFE," the goal of participants is to help build a culture of life one person at a time.

In the towns and churches they stop in and at the clinics they witness to, they hope their joy and boldness helps change the hearts and minds of folks they meet.

This summer marks the 21st year that the organization Crossroads has sponsored the cross-country walk. The idea started from the call of Pope John Paul II on World Youth Day in 1993, challenging young people to create a “culture of life.”

"The liberating message of the Gospel of life has been put into your hands,” the pope told the world's Catholic youth. “The Church needs your enthusiasm, your youthful ideas, in order to make the Gospel of Life penetrate the fabric of society."

Walkers go in shifts on the 60 miles-a-day walks, each averaging 12 miles a day. A van follows the walkers, and they sleep in an RV.

By the end of this summer, participants had spoken at more than 1,200 religious services, reaching out to hundreds of thousands of Americans at the grass-roots level.

Walker Zach Sadusky, a student at Ave Maria University, came from Delaware to make the trek. “It’s very important to show people, that people really care about pro-life issues,” he explained.

Walker Alex Wilson said that walking with Crossroads has been one of the biggest actions he has taken to stand for his beliefs. “I decided to stop talking the talk and to start walking the walk,” he said. “It is imperative that we put our best foot forward in this fight for life."

Walker Eric Zlatos shared, “I chose to walk with Crossroads to help be a voice for the voiceless and to stand up for those who are vulnerable and defenseless." Walker Ally Mechling said she participates because, “I hope through walking I will change some hearts...[and] save some babies."

During the first week of this summer's walk, a security guard noticed the walkers' "PRO-LIFE" t-shirts and said to them, “To each their own.”

However, as they day went by, he kept talking to the walkers, and eventually opened up to share that his daughter recently had an abortion and is not doing well. She was too ashamed to tell her mother, and he was quite worried about her.

A walker shared comforting reassurance, empathizing with the pain of post-abortion syndrome but pointing to the light of forgiveness in Christ. The walker then gave the guard information about places where his daughter could go to find the help that she needed.

These stories of how the Crossroads Walk made an enduring impact for life, one person at a time, could be multiplied hundreds of times.

Crossroads President Jim Nolan said this year the young people also emphasized religious liberty.

“Never before have our rights and freedoms as Christians been under such acute attack as they are now," Nolan said. "If we don’t stand up now, we will lose these rights and the result will be nothing short of catastrophic for our culture and country.”

Mother Teresa called Crossroads Walk one of the most successful and vital organizations in the pro-life movement.

Over 500 young adults have walked on Crossroads since 1995.

Crossroads also sponsored walks in Australia and Spain this year.

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