Anyone born after the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision is a survivor of the abortion holocaust, says a group of some 30 young adults who have sacrificed their summer to walk over 5,500 kilometres in recognition of the sanctity of life.

When Pope John Paul II called on America’s youth to stand up and defend life, at World Youth Day in Denver in 1994, Crossroads founder Steve Sanborn listened. The first walk was something of an experiment, but after travelling across the U.S., witnessing to a pro-life, pro-chastity message, it became clear that God was asking them to continue this important ministry.

The walk is comprised mostly of students from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, a flourishing private liberal arts school known for its exuberant fidelity to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

During the walk, the students spend Saturday mornings at abortion clinics in peaceful demonstration and prayer. Their efforts have certainly not been in vain. This summer alone, through several of their sidewalk counsellors, they have already seen nine women turn away from abortion and seek help with crisis pregnancies.

Rich Scanlan, a Franciscan University theology MA graduate, said he was amazed by the powerful ways God has used the group. “There’s been a lot of conversion due to the Crossroads walk. That’s what makes the walk worth it.”

Danielle Hall, a teacher from Illinois who joined Crossroads this year, said there were many opportunities to minister to women whose lives were affected by abortion.

“We were giving a talk at a church and a woman came and told us after our talk that she had an abortion years earlier,” she said. “She told us she was going to go to confession to be reconciled to God.”

“It’s been amazing, ” Adam Redmond, one of the team leaders said. “We’ve had wonderful opportunities to educate several youth groups on life issues. Our main goal was to really challenge them to get involved in pro-life issues and to live chaste lives.”

The walk has traditionally begun in San Francisco and then headed east to Washington, D.C., with stops in such cities as Sacramento, Salt Lake City, and Denver. For the first year ever, Crossroads included a second walk from Los Angeles. The southern walk passed through over 10 major cities including Phoenix, Dallas, and Atlanta.

Each member walks over 20 kilometres each day. They are funded completely by donations and rely on churches and families along the route for everything down to food and gas money. Most of all, Crossroads survives through prayer and sacrifice.

Many of the walkers say that the biggest lesson they have learned is just how universal the pro-life movement is. “Pro-life is so much bigger than abortion,” Redmond said. “It’s total self-giving, and people are looking at us to be role models.”

Crossroads is currently discussing the possibility of organizing a Canadian walk for next summer. The decision will be made in part based on the number of volunteers who come forward, and whether funding can be arranged.