A group of young Catholics—each with their own reasons—are currently walking 1,500 kms from Brisbane to Melbourne in the name of life. Every human life, that is.
Pro-life organisation, Crossroads, sponsors walks each year in Australia, Canada, America and Spain. It was founded in 1995 in response to St John Paul II’s call to youth to build a “Culture of Life”.
“The walk is to give witness to the sanctity and dignity of each human life, from conception to natural death,” says Benedict Slee, a 24-year-old student and labourer from Grafton, Victoria, and organiser of this year’s walk.
The group of 15, in their fluorescent yellow t-shirts, arrived at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral on 25 January, having left Brisbane two weeks earlier.
“The three main pillars are prayer, sacrifice and pro-life witness. We pray while we walk. The walking hurts so we offer up that sacrifice.”
Mr Slee told The Catholic Weekly he is walking for a very personal reason. One of his nephews had been born prematurely at 25 weeks and later passed away due to an infection at 29 weeks old. Around the same time the state of Victoria passed a law allowing abortion up to 40 weeks gestation.
“I couldn’t see how that would work when I saw that there was clearly life before that. So I do the walk to say that, yes, life does begin at conception.”
Twenty-seven-year-old Sydney Dunavin from Virginia in America, works as a director for Crossroads. This is her second walk in Australia and she has previously taken part in three walks across America.
“It’s amazing. It’s quite an interesting perspective to see the pro-life movement here versus in America. Seeing how alive the young people are here especially within the Catholic community.”
Sydney tells the story of a woman in America who cancelled the scheduled abortion of her unborn child after seeing a group of the Crossroads walkers—in their bright yellow t-shirts bearing the words “Pro-life”—cross the road in front of her as she was driving to the abortion appointment.
“I’ve always said that just knowing that one life was saved is enough. That makes our mission worth it,” Sydney said.
Campion College student, 20-year-old Perpetua Yeo from Doonside, also has a very personal reason for taking up the challenge. She found out a few years ago that when her mother was pregnant with her and her twin sister, she had been under pressure to have an abortion.
“I would not be here right now if not for Mum’s belief in life. These unborn babies don’t have a voice. I need to stand up for them.”
“Around 250 babies are aborted every day in Australia. I think it’s about 80 to 90 thousand a year. It’s tragic.”
The group of young walkers expect to reach their destination of Melbourne around mid-February.
For more information or to make a donation: www.crossroadsaustralia.org