On August 16th, Canada’s Crossroads walkers completed their three-month pilgrimage from Vancouver to Ottawa – across the entire length of the massive country.
According to Crossroads website, these walks were initiated in response to Pope John Paul II’s call to the youth of the world to take an active role in the pro-life movement in order to establish a Culture of Life. During the pilgrimage, participants join in prayer and speak at local parish groups.
Crossroads teams also participate in peaceful protests at abortion clinics. Their objective is to witness to the dignity and sanctity of all human life, from the moment of conception to natural death.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, SJ, of Ottawa, Conservative MP Royal Galipeau (Ottawa-Orleans) and local members of Action Life, an Ottawa pro-life organization and Campaign Life Coalition, the political arm of the pro-life movement, greeted the walkers as a light rain fell.
“We are proud of you,” the archbishop told them. “You’ve done a great job, keep it up; you’re motivating people to follow in your steps.”
The archbishop gestured towards West Block, now shrouded in scaffolding as a renewal of the Parliament Hill buildings is underway. “We’re building a new Canada,” he said, noting the other buildings that will be restored and refitted. “You are also rebuilding Canada by what you are doing. Congratulations.”
“Thank you for making this day count not only for me, but for unborn children,” said Galipeau. “Continue the hard work. I know that it’s often difficult and it’s often done in difficult circumstances, but it’s needed.”
Jean-Pierre Giguere, 24, of Cornwall, Ont., said he received an email encouraging him to do the walk, so he quit his job at a warehouse and flew to Vancouver to begin the walk.
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The highlights included speaking at parishes and “running into people who had no idea what we were doing,” he said.
At the parishes, people would tell them: “We are so moved by what you are doing,” he said. “The hope we saw in their eyes gave us hope to keep on going.”
On the road, they met “more and more people who were thanking us for what we were doing,” he said.
In the Rockies, walkers encountered snow drifts along the road “as high as the ceiling.”
“We managed to survive a flood in Regina,” Giguere said. “The whole TransCanada Highway was under water.”
A story from the previous year kept him inspired. A woman holding a 3-year-old child greeted walkers in 2013 and told them she had met a Crossroads team while pregnant and considering abortion. Her encounter with the pro-life walkers on a previous trip convinced her to keep the child she brought to meet them.