Advertisements ad ad ad ad ad

April 14, 2017

Cardinal Cupich leads Good Friday walk through Englewood

By Joyce Duriga

Editor

On Good Friday, April 14, Cardinal Cupich led hundreds people on a Walk for Peace through Chicago's Englewood neighborhood. Civic and religious leaders participated along with members of Chicago's police and fire departments. The group traced the Stations of the Cross and paused along the way to read the names of those killed by gun violence in the city since January 1. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic) Photo Gallery

On Good Friday morning, April 14, hundreds of people joined Cardinal Cupich in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood for a Walk for Peace. Civic and faith leaders also joined the walk along with members of Chicago’s police and fire departments.

Participants prayed the stations of the cross along the route. Before each station, names of those killed by gun violence in the city since Jan. 1 were read along with their age and gender. Two of the stops in the route were the sites of murders.

Cardinal Cupich announced the walk the week before during a press conference where he outlined new anti-violence initiatives in the archdiocese. The walk began and ended at St. Benedict the African church, 340 W. 66th St.

At the start of the stations, 10-year-old Montrell Davis from the Austin neighborhood, told the gathering that he wants to play basketball when he grows up but he can’t visit the park a block from his home without an adult because of the violence in his neighborhood.

“To the people that’s killing the children, I’m begging you to stop the violence,” he said.

At the station where Jesus falls, Pamela Montgomery-Bosley whose son Terrell was killed by gun violence shared her family’s struggle dealing with his death. For at time her family lived in denial of his death, she said. Twice she tried to take her own life.

“Every day, me and so many parents carry the cross that we did not ask for. We carry the cross of broken hearts,” she said.

Some Englewood residents watched the process from their porches or windows. A group of kids yelled down from a second floor window along the route asking, “Who are you marching for?” A woman in the procession replied, “For you, honey!”

Katie Nash of Oak Park said he attended the walk to let members of Englewood “know that we care.”

“Chicago is in trouble with all of the violence and unless we all come and stand for peace in the hood it’s not going to be effective,” said Nash.

Gretchen Gerdes lives in suburban Crestwood today but was born and grew up in Englewood and worked at St. Bernard School, which is now the Academy of St. Benedict the African.

“I’m still concerned about the area,” Gerdes said, when asked why she attended the walk.

It breaks her heart when she hears of violence in the neighborhood and she would like to see more educational opportunities for people who live in Englewood.

“I think education is the answer to curtailing the violence,” Gerdes said.

Wardell Staples wants to see more jobs. Staples lives in nearby Roseland and previously lived in Englewood. He attended the walk with his colleagues from the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation, which manages affordable housing in the area.

He said it was “impressive” to see so many people of different races and religions turn out for the walk but more must be done.

“To be really honest, it’s jobs that are needed. It will help a whole lot,” he said.

A former gang member, Staples said the random shootings of women and children didn’t happen in his day.

“This is madness,” he said.

As a father of five, Staples walked in the procession for his children, especially his son Michael who is 2 years old.

“I want him to be able to play in the yard and be safe,” Staples said.

The gathering of people of various races, ages and faiths showed that people of Chicago care about each other, Cardinal Cupich said at the end of the walk.

“This is the way we should be,” he said. “We want the world today to know that this is Chicago, that we want to work together.”

The people in and around Chicago must do more to give the young people in the violence-plagued neighborhoods alternatives to violence.

“Let’s begin and realize that what we did today in walking is just the first step,” Cardinal Cupich said.

In addressing those committing the violence, the cardinal said, “We want to be there with you. You don’t have to turn to violence.”

Moving forward, the cardinal said he wants to explore a way where the Catholic Church can bring together leaders to find ways to better support the groups working for peace in the city.

While Cardinal Cupich led the Walk for Peace Pope Francis was remembering Chicago in his prayers as he made the Way of the Cross in the Colosseum in Rome. The cardinal shared that news with media April 4 when he read a letter from Pope Francis expressing support for the anti-violence initiatives. At the same time Cardinal Cupich announced a new initiative to increase the work of current anti-violence programs in parishes and schools and those run by Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, Catholic Charities and Kolbe House, the archdiocese’s jail ministry. The archdiocese will also seek out partnerships to increase programs that will help break the cycle of violence.

With a $250,000 personal donation, Cardinal Cupich also announced the creation of the Instruments of Peace Fund that will provide funds for both new and existing neighborhood-based anti-violence programs. The money comes from donations he’s received to aid his personal charitable efforts.