Usually college students eagerly look forward to their summer vacation for some leisurely activities and summer jobs. This is the time for them to ease out the rigors of the academia. And, it’s in the summer months they make some pocket money for the rest of the oncoming college year.

Such being the mindset of most of them, have you ever heard of college students in our country spending their whole summer absolutely for zero income, instead for a cause that they believe and are convinced of as right and the best for humanity — the cause of standing up for life from conception till natural death? Rain or shine they do voluntarily take up physical rigors for 12 continuous weeks by walking from the West Coast to the East Coast covering some 3,200 miles.

Heeding to the call the late Pope St. John Paul II extended to the youth of the world in 1993 at the World Youth Day in Denver to take an active role imitating the original apostles in building a “culture of life,” Steve Sanborn, then a student at Steubenville University in Ohio, began the Crossroads Pro-Life Walk in 1995. On Aug. 13 the Crossroads walkers completed this year’s walk at the nation’s capital for the 24th time since its inception.

This year there were two groups of college students who simultaneously started on May 18 their Crossroads walks across the nation covering 36 states, one from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., the “Central walk,” and the other from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., the “Southern walk.” Both groups reached their destination on Aug. 13.

In their over 3,000-mile trek from the West Coast one group passed through Jackson this year. On the weekend of July 27-28 two members of the group came to St. Mary, Mother of God Catholic Church and shared their experiences at our weekend Masses and on Monday, the 29th, the parishioners gave a reception to all the members of the group and treated them all with a sumptuous breakfast as they were about to continue their journey.

The youngsters who visited the parish were all college students who represented Texas, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, Indiana, Iowa and Virginia. Talking to Catholic News Service, as posted on the website of the Crossroads Pro-Life Walks Across America, Sydney Donovan, 25, from Chattanooga, Tenn., said: “The mission of Crossroads is to witness to the dignity and sanctity of all human life, especially the unborn. So we like to reach people at a very grassroots level and meet people where they are.”

The Crossroads Pro-Life Walks Across America has now expanded its mission internationally by conducting Crossroads walks in Spain, Canada, Australia and Ireland.

In the three-month-long walk, these pro-life youngsters walk Monday through Friday by taking turns. Each day they break into two shifts— morning and afternoon shifts. Previously they had been walking round the clock. Due to an unfortunate incident now these pro-lifers walk in pairs of two from sunrise to sunset. As the pairs complete three or so miles, their friends in the support van replace them and continue to the walk. Their walk is scheduled in such a way that on Saturdays they gather outside an abortion clinic wherever they are and pray. And on Sundays, they spread out into different parishes and talk to parishioners asking for their prayers and financial support for their mission.

One of the walkers, Andrew Heim, talking to Cecilia O’ Reilly, a National Catholic Register correspondent, last year said: “I would say that one interesting thing was that people expect you to meet a lot of resistance, and we did meet it, whether getting the finger, people shouting things at us from their cars.” Heim, a graduate from Ave Maria University, added: “More so, however, I was consistently inspired by the kind and loving people. There are a lot of good people in this country, and we often lose sight of that ... people who are really good and trying to uphold the dignity and sanctity of life.”

While chatting with the group at the breakfast table on Monday, July 29, it was evident that these youngsters were filled with zeal and enthusiasm to stand on the ground and proclaim and profess their deeply held beliefs and convictions loud and clear. “We care for life and we stand for life, especially, the unborn,” they said in unison. “We will keep our fight all through our life resisting peacefully all that is going against the value, worth, sanctity and dignity of human life from conception till natural end. And this is our message.”

As they walk through thousands of towns and cities they meet a lot of people. And most of the people greet them with joy and encouragement. And the walkers said the United States is largely pro-life. As they walk they spend their time in prayers. They pray the rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and listen to the Bible. Hence the whole time they make use of prayer. It’s certain as they pass through the cities and towns raising their hearts in prayer for our beautiful nation and her people, our country and her people are being sanctified and purified. People are being touched and transformed by the power of God through the instrumentality of the Crossroads Pro-Life Walkers.

The Rev. Jose M. Kochuparampil ministers at St. Mary, Mother of God Catholic Church in Jackson.

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