Before night falls on Richmond Sept. 5, a group of people will gather to take a walk.
Before the walk, the bishop will celebrate Mass at 6 p.m. at the church, which is at 159 Harbor Way.
St. Mark Parish is a recipient of a grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development made to the California Conference of Catholic Bishops. The program the grant funded, Ceasefire Lifelines to Healing, has already shown results, according to the CCHD report.
The parish is nearly 90 percent Latino immigrants and a significant portion of them are undocumented, according to the report.
The grant grew out of a "what if" moment, said John Watkins, Life and Justice coordinator of the Diocese of Oakland. At a rare statewide meeting of diocesan leaders in ministries such as Respect Life, Social Justice and Restorative Justice, the question was raised, Watkins said, "What if a special grant was requested to respond to violence in our local communities, empowering our local communities?"
The California Conference of Catholic Bishops received $1 million from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which is funded by an annual nationwide collection each November. Nine of the 11 dioceses in the state are participating in this particular grant. The Diocese of Oakland portion of the grant — $50,000 — sponsors the Ceasefire project, partnering with the local PICO group, parishioners at St. Mark and St. Cornelius parishes, and Catholic Charities of the East Bay.
Several dioceses in the state are partnering with PICO California, a grassroots congregation-based community-organizing network that represents almost half a million families across the state.
Faith formation, focusing on youth leadership development, is one of the strengths of the Richmond ministry, Watkins said. A leadership academy at St. Mark Parish, for example, will serve not just youth in that parish, but young people from St. Cornelius Parish.
In Richmond, the effort was made to create a ministry, rather than a program, Watkins said. He credited Father Flores, who "expressed the need to respond to the need for healing of those impacted by violence."
One element of that would be the creation of support groups, rather than therapist-led groups.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Watkins noted, usually makes grants to outside groups. This grant, "to a church group for the purpose of organizing the church to respond to how do you build up a community," Watkins said, offers the opportunity to consider, "How do we truly build up a community of salt and light?"
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