Chicagoans walk in 'living prayer' for victims of violence

April 2, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The Holy Week procession covered four miles and involved several religious denominations. The crowd included many whose lives have been touched by violence as well as many more who have watched from the outside and want to try to stop it.

Pam Bosley lost her 18-year-old son Terrell six years ago this week when he was gunned down on the steps of his South Side church.

"My heart is broken," said Bosley. "It's hard to get up. I suffer every day. So I don't want another person to suffer like I do."

Religious leaders from numerous denominations called attention to the violence.

"If it motivates people to protect those in danger and to ask why we have so much violence in our society, particularly against those who have no protection, then it will be well worthwhile," said Cardinal Francis George.

"My deepest hope is that this will be a signal event for the start of a more coordinated event across the city," said Jeffrey Lee, bishop of the Episcopal Church in Chicago.

The procession began at St. James Episcopal Cathedral and marched to Daley Plaza. They picked up additional people along the way and the movement gained more voices, including that of the South Side pastor who recently spent more than three months on the roof of an abandoned motel.

"Every child deserves to walk down the street without being shot," said Pastor Corey Brooks, New Beginnings Church.

The march continued to Old St. Pat's Church in the West Loop for more prayers. Then it was on to the site of the old Cook County hospital, where so many of the young lives participants prayed for have been lost. Top local government officials joined the religious leaders there.

Those in the crowd prayed they would make a difference.

"I hope that people would just get the message that violence isn't the answer," said Walter Grant. "There are other ways of solving problems."

Many of the marchers carried signs that read '632 children killed in Chicago in the last four years.' But they said just in the few weeks since they printed those signs eight more have died from street violence. They hoped the march is just the start of a bigger movement to bring an end to the violence.

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