At World Youth Day in Denver, Colo., in 1993, Pope St. John Paul II said, “Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places like the first apostles, who preached Christ and the good news of salvation in the squares of cities, towns and villages.”
This summer—for the twentieth year in a row—young adults across the nation, mostly hailing from faithful Catholic colleges, will try to do just that.
“We like to say that we put Pope St. John Paul II’s message into practice literally,” James Nolan, president of Crossroads told The Cardinal Newman Society in an interview recently.
Crossroads, which was founded by a Franciscan University of Steubenville (FUS) student in 1995, is an organization committed to establishing a “Culture of Life.” An integral part of Crossroads is its yearly pro-life pilgrimages across the United States and other counties.
This summer, approximately 50 students between the ages of 18-30 will take part in seven walks in five different countries. In the United States, there are three walks, which begin in in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Twelve weeks later, the U.S. groups all end in Washington, D.C. for a pro-life rally.
Along the way, the young adults witness to the dignity of human life through prayer, offering up sacrifices, wearing t-shirts with the words “PRO LIFE” written on them, and through “talks and presentations at conferences, at churches, to youth groups as well as media interviews, and personal interaction,” according to Crossroads’ website.
Students also share the pro-life message at 1,200 Catholic Masses during the summer, Nolan stated.
“Most people are under the impression that young people are not interested in their faith – when they see these amazing young people taking an active role in the Church and society for life, they are inspired,” Nolan continued. “We even have people in the Churches that we meet that say, because of our witness, their views on abortion have changed.”
The Crossroads walks are fueled by energy from students at Newman Guide-recommended colleges. Between 80 and 90 percent of the walkers attend college at one of these institutions, according to Nolan—who himself is a FUS and Ave Maria School of Law graduate.
“At their colleges, students learn to mature in their faith. During their time at Crossroads, they learn how to put their faith into action,” Nolan explained.
“… [A] high percentage of Catholic students enter college pro-life… but a large portion of these students lose that pro-life conviction in college,” Nolan lamented.
“Walking on Crossroads and being involved in the pro-life movement gives young people the opportunity to become even more firm in their convictions and beliefs,” he continued. “It allows… the Lord to work through them to counter this pervasive culture of death that is so prevalent in our society, especially on our college campuses.”
One student who has grown stronger in his prolife convictions during college is Victor Bermudez, who graduates from FUS this spring. Bermudez told The Cardinal Newman Society in correspondence that, after going on a walk with crossroads, he “became president of students for life [at the University] and went into the semester energized to save lives and change hearts.”
“Franciscan University is a school where pro-life activism is greatly encouraged and Crossroads is an experience [in which] pro-life activism is able to be put to practice in [the] most prayerful and sacrificial way I know,” Bermudez continued.
Those who walk with Crossroads have gone on to be leaders in the Church and society, Nolan related, “working for national and local pro-life groups as well as bishops and churches throughout the country. Many have also entered the religious life after their experience on Crossroads.”
Crossroads is a “springboard” from which students learn how to actively live the Faith, Nolan said.
To apply to be a walker this summer or to support the mission of Crossroads, please visit www.crossroadswalk.org or call (800) 353-8817.
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