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placeholder Richmond parish joins Not Today effort to end violence

Events to address youth violence

Antioch parishioners lead medical mission to Mexicali

Artist priest is new leader at Martinez parish

Intentional communities flourish at Saint Mary’s College

Two priests, both veterans of World War II, die

Renovated cemetery blessed

Annual abuse audit finds soaring costs, fewer allegations

Waterboarding is torture and deserves moral condemnation

Devotions extend our liturgical life, but must not replace it

Psychologist urges parents to redefine marks of success to include integrity and self-control

Coins released in preparation for World Youth Day in Sydney in July

Gifts available for First Communion


placeholder March 24, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
Richmond parish joins "Not Today"
effort to end violence

A man prays in St. Mark Church during the 24-hour Not Today vigil.

Tired of the violence in Richmond, local churches, businesses, activists and community agencies joined together in a 24-hour event, called “Not Today” that began March 15 at midnight and continued for 24 hours as an intervention against violent crime in the city. Already this year, there have been eight homicides.

St. Mark Parish participated in this initiative as a “light house,” along with five other Richmond churches, keeping its doors opening throughout the period to serve as a prayer and reflection center.

“This event gives us new hope,” said Father Ramiro Flores, St. Mark’s parochial administrator who remained awake for the 24 hours visiting other churches, walking in procession along with other ethnic groups, and praying for the families who have experienced violence. Latinos make up about 27 percent of the city’s residents and African Americans about 36 percent.

“We broke barriers between creeds and races,” said the priest, and “there was rest for so many mothers who have suffered the loss of their children.”

Xiomara Coreas, who has lived in Richmond for the last five years, said the day was very positive because it helped to unite different ethnic groups, especially Latinos and African Americans, in efforts to end the violence.

“The violence is generated by Latino and African American gangs that fight to gain territory,” she said. “We are not safe even in our own homes because the gun shots can get there,” said this mother of three, ages 10, 8 and one.

“I don’t let my kids go to the backyard because I fear a stray bullet,” Coreas added, noting that one of her sons is very affected by the situation. Whenever he sees one of the markers people place where a person has been shot, he gets really sad and says “here they killed another one,” his mother said.

Her neighbor, Vanesa Varela, tells her children not to speak with anybody in the street. “I am afraid to walk near my house, and I always try to drive my car. My worries are bigger because of my children,” said this Mexican mother of two youngsters, ages 5 and 10.

Varela applauds the idea of a day with no violence and along with Coreas said local authorities should focus on stopping the murders, prostitution and drug sales that plague neighborhoods instead of following immigrants who do not have a driver’s license.

As part of Not Today, community organizations sponsored booths offering information about health, housing, and immigration services.

Ramon Cardona, director of Cuzcatlán Latino Center, said the area’s violence has deep roots.

“Unfortunately we have alienated the young people. Since they were kids, their fathers and mothers have had to work the whole day to have an income that allows them to live. In addition there is a lack of cultural and recreational activities and programs after school to keep youth occupied in positive ways,” he said.

Cardona said that hiring more police officers is not enough. “That does not work. The government should give more funds for education, youth centers and other activities,” he said, the billions of dollars the U.S. government has spent on the Iraq war while the country has so many needs.

Although Richmond is a small city of about 102,000 residents, it occupies the ninth position in a list of the most violent cities in the country. Richmond reported 47 homicides in 2007, up from 42 in 2006 and its highest total since the early 1990s. Many of these crimes remain unsolved because many undocumented immigrants are afraid to report what they know, Cardona said.

“There is fear of retaliation and fear of the immigration officers,” he said. “That is why it is necessary to approach the different communities with the same goal, as we have done on this day without violence,” he said.

Delia Rodriguez, who works with Casa Esperanza, an outreach effort of St. Mark Parish that helps families with various needs, said that for the first time all the city was united in saying, “It is enough.”

“On this day, we demonstrate that we can, that there are other more productive activities to do and that parents must pay attention to their children,” she said.
“Today is an historic day,” added Gloria Alvarado, another St. Mark staff member. “We united African Americans with Latinos. All religions prayed for the same cause and we helped the families to feel that their pain also is ours.”

Unfortunately, on March 17, just hours after Not Today concluded, there was another murder.

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