Cardinal Cupich leads hundreds in Englewood peace march

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of people showed they refuse to accept violence in Chicago's streets, as Catholics observed Good Friday by walking the Stations of the Cross.

Cardinal Blase Cupich led a walk in the city's Englewood neighborhood Friday, demanding peace. Organizers said they hoped for good turnout. They had no idea how big the crowd would be.

The walk for peace began around 10:30 a.m. at St. Benedict the African Church on West 66th Street and South Stewart Avenue and was open to the public. Cupich invited civic, educational, and religious leaders and people from across the city to join him.

They walked hundreds strong, and prayed.

"Look with compassion to all those who suffer because of violence," Cupich preached to the crowd.

It traced the Way of the Cross and stopped to remember those who lives were lost to violence, naming each of them and the date of their death. Among the remembrance was a message to all.

"We have a responsibility too, and so let us today pledge that we will work with each other so that young people who are tempted to violence will put down their weapons and join us," Cardinal Cupich said.

The march and message was most focused on the children, and the impact of violence on their childhoods.

"It's not like it was a long time ago, how you could go outside and play. Now they can't go out and play. That's the reason I'm here today," said Evelyn McClinton, great-grandmother.

"As long as everybody stuck together and be on the right page, everything could be okay for these kids. It's all about these kids, really," said Roosevelt Walker, participant.

The walk included community members, community leaders and those in uniform, from regular patrolmen to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

"Today, as a Chicago police officer, I carry the weight of seeking out solutions to stop the violence," said Officer Joshua Shelton, addressing the crowd.

The walk spanned more than four miles, and included both residents of the neighborhood and other Chicagoans from all over the city.

"My dad grew up in this community. I grew up on the North Side of Chicago. We're all people. It's encouraging to see everyone here," said Evie Zaker, parishioner.

"The power of the people is tremendous, but more importantly the power of united coalitions of people - black, white, brown, Catholic, believer, non-believer, North Side, West Side, South Side," said Vincent Guider, parishioner.

Even the youngest members of the group asked for the violence to stop.

"I'm a 10-year-old boy that wants to play basketball when I grow up. But I can't go to a park a block away from my house without an adult with me because of the violence," one child said.

And when the walk came to an end, it was really a beginning.

"What we did today in walking was just the first step, and let's continue to walk together," Cupich said.l

Pope Francis pledged to accompany Chicagoans in prayer as he walked the Stations of the Cross in Rome.
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