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Life message has Mercy grad walking across U.S.



Jenna Wilson (left), a 2004 graduate of Mercy High School in Omaha, and friend Sarah Vyvlacka of Kearney are walking across America as members of Crossroads, a Catholic pro-life ministry for college students.

By Lisa Schulte
The Catholic Voice

This summer, Jenna Wilson walks with a mission.

The 19-year-old from Omaha is spending 11 weeks walking across the country to spread the pro-life message.

As a member of Crossroads, a Catholic pro-life ministry primarily for college students, Wilson and several other young adults are making the 3,200 mile walk from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., to promote the dignity and sanctity of all human life.

"It's not just about abortion. It's not just about euthanasia. It's about respecting every human life, no matter what race, creed or age," said Wilson, who graduated from Mercy High School in 2004 and will be a sophomore at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., in the fall.

She said the purpose of the cross-country walk is to offer up prayers and sacrifices for an end to abortion and an end to the Culture of Death.

As they walk, members of the Crossroads team wear T-shirts that say 'Pro-Life' in large green letters. They speak at Masses to encourage pro-life activism in the communities they visit, and they stop at local abortion clinics along the route to participate in prayerful, peaceful protests and sidewalk counseling.

Wilson's group began walking from San Francisco on May 22 and will arrive in Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, where they will attend a pro-life youth rally on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. On Aug. 8, they will head to Germany to walk for about a week before participating in World Youth Day.

Crossroads was founded in 1994 by Steve Sanborn, a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, as a response to Pope John Paul II's 1993 World Youth Day call to take an active role in the pro-life movement in order to establish a Culture of Life.

The annual pilgrimage across the United States is an integral part of the ministry.

Participants walk from Sunday evening through Friday afternoon, taking turns as day-walkers and night-walkers. They rest over the weekend, staying with host families.

Each participant spends about 10 hours every day walking 17 miles. As they walk, they pray, talk and offer their sufferings for those intentions they collect at the parishes they visit.

"There are so many ways that we can suffer on this walk. You can be sick. You can be sad. You can be hurt with blisters," Wilson said. "Crossroads really gives you a chance to experience different kinds of suffering and be able to offer them up and receive God's grace. God's grace is really evident on this walk. It's amazing."

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