Challenges encountered along the way
But looking at the map charting Andrew's Pilgrimage for Life, we get a sense of both how immense this country is, and how small the distance between good people
By Catherine Fournier
I saw a woman get hit by a car yesterday. Stopped at a red light, I absentmindedly watched a woman in her late sixties cross the road in front of me. With only a little more attention - which became more focused as I realized what was going to happen - I watched the car making a left turn through the intersection run right into her. She bounced off the hood and fell to the ground. Fortunately, except for a bruised left hip and hand where she hit the pavement, the woman was unhurt. Of course, she was shaken and very upset, so it took a few minutes to be certain that she had no broken bones and move her off the road to safety.
In a split second, an interior monologue of simultaneous, conflicting thoughts went through my mind: "I have to stop and help" … "I can't stop, I'll be late" … "There might not be anyone else with First Aid training. I have to stop" … "I don't want to stop, what if I do something wrong?" … "Oh, well. Here goes."
I put the car in park and ran to the woman, rehearsing the lessons of the First Aid course I finished three days ago. At the same time I was remembering my high school friend's sister, killed as she rode along a highway on her bicycle with a group of friends, and Andrew, spending eight to ten hours a day walking on the highway.
By the end of its first month the Pilgrimage for Life had settled down to a loose routine. Andrew walks 40 to 60 kilometres a day for three or four days then stops and spends a day "resting." He reports that his greatest challenges comes in the middle of each day, when a kind of despair descends on him and it becomes difficult to put one foot in front of another. Discerning this feeling's probable origins, he counters the attack with "a few Rosaries," he says.
To date, his route has kept to highways, snow conditions making it impossible to use the Trans-Canada Trail. In friendly, pro-life Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, he spent most of his rest days meeting people, giving newspaper, radio and television interviews and speaking to groups. Interest about the Pilgrimage spread to Vatican Radio and to stations in Maine, as well as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. With so much practice, Andrew became more comfortable and confident in his public appearances - realizing that though he's heard himself say something 40 times, his audience hasn't, and that while he may think his life is quite ordinary, people want to hear about it. Typically, he spends two or three nights with each billeting family and has time to get to know them a little until he walks out of their area. A rented cell phone keeps him in touch with his billets and the provincial organizer.
The long daily and twice daily calls, figuring out this routine of what works and what doesn't, coaching him on public speaking and a host of other details have been replaced by short phone calls from Andrew every few days. He reports on his location, and we mark it on a large provincial map so his younger brothers and sister know "where's Andrew?" Looking at the map, we get a sense of both how immense this country is, and how small the distance between good people.
Like the generous hosts and donors through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick who have opened their homes and hearts to Andrew. The list includes but is not limited to: Herm Wills, Brett Kaizer, Isabelle Gallant, Monsignor Martin Currie, Jocelyn and Ray Morris, Kathy Campbell, Jocelyn Morris, Claire Crowe, Fr Pat Cosgrove, Allan and Florence Decker, Charlie and Sandra Mcinnis, Peter and Susan Ryan and their daughters, Reginald Dupuis, Roland Richard, Sr. Cecile Francoise, John Kennedy, Danny and Nellie Wright and their nine kids, Clinton and Edna Lounsbury, Ron Eagles, Danny MacDonald, Art LeBlanc, Tom and Carolyn Barry, Aaron Knox, Sarah Mudge, Ann and Ernie Chatterton, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Lutwick; Ambrose and Theresa Mahony, Norma and Paul Matheson, Ernest Voisine, Luc Dubé, and Norman Dufour. Thank you to all.
Of course, though the Pilgrimage has settled into routine, and we are becoming accustomed to Andrew's absence, it can never be truly ordinary and everyday for our family. There is always a back-of-the-mind worry about a thousand things like weather, and his health, and occasional sharp reminders of what-could-go-wrong, like watching someone bounce off the hood of a car. And every time the phone rings, I go through a similar interior dialogue. "Maybe it's Andrew." "What if it's bad news?" There's a strong temptation to either let the answering machine pick it up, or to spend all day chewing my fingernails staring out the window.
In these moments I remember that though worrying about the health, safety and future of our children is normal to every mother ever made - even Mary, and in her case with good reason - this fear and worry I'm experiencing probably has the same origins as Andrew's daily dose of despair, and should be countered in the same way. And I remember all the good people contributing to and praying for Andrew's Pilgrimage for Life, and join them in "a few Rosaries."
To sponsor Andrew's Pilgrimage for Life, please send a cheque (payable to Campaign Life Coalition, marked "Pilgrimage for Life") to 104 Bond St. Toronto ON M5B 1X9. Donations will support Campaign Life Coalition Youth and Canadian Food for Children. To obtain sponsor sheets and a walk schedule, please call (416) 204-9781 or toll free 1-800-730-5358.