Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, and Revs. Alexander Castillo and Ramiro Flores led about 60 people on a Ceasefire walk in the streets around St. Mark Parish.
josÉ luis aguirre/The Catholic Voice
Richmond Ceasefire walk
message of love, forgiveness
About 60 people joined Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, Rev. Alexander Castillo and Rev. Ramiro Flores, pastor of St. Mark Parish, in a walk around the community seeking an end to violence on Sept. 5.
To the victims of crime in the area, Bishop Barber said, "We enfold you in our hearts and pray that God will give you, the victims of violence, eternal life and resurrection. In those thoughts we send you our love."
To the instigators of violence, the bishop said, "We pray for you and for whatever is causing your anger and your violence so you can have peace in your heart and enjoy God's love and forgiveness to help build up the community rather than causing pain."
St. Mark is in the boundaries of the Iron Triangle, an area named years ago for the three railroad lines that crossed in the older area of Richmond. The city was once considered among the nation's 10 most dangerous, but in 2013, it saw only 16 murders, the lowest number since 1980. Other violent crimes have mostly declined also, according to statistics from the Richmond Police Department filed with the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Nonetheless, violence continues in the area, prompting the walk and an earlier Ceasefire walk in Oakland on Aug. 22.
Father Flores said, "To the victims of violence, we want to say that the fact that we come out to the streets is a sign that what is happening hurts us, that the pain of their children has not been in vain. Here is a community that suffers and we don't want more people suffering in Richmond."
Bishop Barber noted, "Ceasefire is a good movement because it shows that people of faith care and we can express our care in a public way, reaching out to everybody whether religious people or not. We care about everybody."
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