'Overwhelmed with graces': Walking across America for life
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A three-month journey from California to Washington, DC, came to an end August 13, as 23 walkers of this summer's Crossroads Pro-Life Walks made it to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Washington D.C., (CNA) - Crossroads Pro-Life Walks began in 1995, and have expanded from the United States to Spain, Canada, Australia, and Ireland. This summer, there were two walks crossing the United States--the "Southern" walk, which started in Santa Monica, and the "Central" walk, which began in San Francisco. Both walks ended in DC.
Victoria Bliss, a 19-year-old from Virginia, was one of the participants on this year's Central walk. Bliss said the experience, while full of challenges, was one that strengthened her faith and inspired her to continue doing pro-life work.
"I've always been passionately pro-life, and attended the Marches and 40 Days for Life, but I really wanted to do something bigger and commit my whole summer to the pro-life mission, truly going out into the streets and spreading the gospel of life."
She told CNA that participating in Crossroads this summer was a fulfilment of a lifelong dream. As a child, past Crossroads walkers spoke regularly at her church following their arrival in DC.
According to Crossroads Pro-Life Walks VP Martha Nolan, about 1,500 walkers worldwide have completed their journeys, averaging 40 to 60 miles per day, while visiting churches, pregnancy centers, and convents along the way.
Nolan told CNA that they drive "a little bit" when they fall behind. Previously, walkers would carry on by day and night, but after a tragic accidental death in 2012, the day's walk now stops at sunset.
Bliss told CNA that, in addition to the spiritual battles one sometimes faces on a pilgrimage, her group experienced logistical and physical struggles as well. One walker fell very ill and had to leave after three weeks, and their RV broke down numerous times.
Despite this, Bliss said "the Holy Spirit brought good out of every situation, and there was never a time when our team even thought about giving up. We were overwhelmed with graces, every second of every day."
"There were a few threatening times when we got screamed at or chased," she told CNA. "A couple of times cars swerved into the shoulder and we had to leap out of the way, but our guardian angels were clearly with us."
There were also many joys that came along the 12-week journey. For Bliss, the biggest was encountering people each day along the route, many of whom broke down in tears when they saw their pro-life teeshirts.
"We saw Jesus in so many people," she said. "I came to realize how beautiful people are, no matter how broken, and how much they need us to radiate God's joy and peace to them."
The route was dotted with what Bliss described as "Divine Providence instances," such as abortion clinics being unexpectedly closed following the group's prayer vigil.
"One time, we had been praying all four mysteries of the Rosary, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and as we did the final Sign of the Cross, the lights in the clinic turned off," she recounted.
Each day on Crossroads, the walkers attended Mass, offered "constant rosaries" when they as they went, and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet every day at 3 p.m.
Bliss said that the experience helped her to fall in love with Christ "more than ever before," and that she witnessed the power of the rosary.
Now that her walk has ended, Bliss said that she hopes to continue mission work, including becoming a trained sidewalk counselor outside of abortion clinics. But most of all, she hopes to continue the momentum she started this summer.
"Standing up for the unborn is the thing I have always been the most passionate about and I want to do everything I can to raise awareness of the evil of abortion, and change hearts by portraying the truth with love."
Copyright 2019 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
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