Service: To end violence will take all communities

By Joyce Duriga
Sunday, March 6, 2016

Service: To end violence will take all communities

Participants gathered at St. Barnubus Church on Feb.27, 2016 in Beverly for an ecumenical prayer service as part of the "Thou Shall Not Murder" campaign in which area churches are praying to have no murders committed on Easter Sunday in the City of Chicago.
Lisa Ramsey from St. Sabina Parish Parish talked with Donatta Yates from St. Barnabus during a breakout discussion. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Father Michael Pfleger, Senior Pastor at St. Sabina Parish, gave a talk on combating violence. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Youth lit candles representing the Chicago neighborhoods during the Litany of Saints. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Father Michael Pfleger, Senior Pastor at St. Sabina Parish, prayed near a map of Chicago neighborhoods. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Tom and Pam Bosley, members of "Purpose Over Pain", an activist group for family members who have lost children to gun violence, prayed. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)

As the number of homicides in Chicago reached 101 on Feb. 27, religious leaders from the Southwest Side gathered at St. Barnabas Parish, 10134 S. Longwood Drive, to pray for an end in violence and to call for a day without murder.

Father William Malloy, pastor of St. Barnabas, opened the service quoting a recent headline in the Chicago Tribune that said Chicago has become synonymous with murder.

“It hurts our heart to hear that,” he said. “This is where we grew up.”

Violence that happens in other neighborhoods affects all city residents, he said.

“If one of us isn’t safe, none of us is safe.”

Malloy is part a group of ecumenical and interfaith clergy from the neighborhood calling for a day without murder in the city. The day they chose is March 27, Easter Sunday. The group has launched an online campaign,, that asks people to sign a petition and invites them to become more educated about the causes of violence and what they can do to stop it.

That group sponsored the Feb. 27 service that including homilies by Chicago Police Chief Eugene Williams, president of the local chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; Father David Kelly, executive director of Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation; and Father Michael Pfleger, senior pastor of St. Sabina Parish and peace activist.

Malloy told the congregation of about 400 people that the group would continue to work until “life becomes synonymous with Chicago.”

In his remarks, Kelly, who is a priest of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, spoke of needing to build communities of hope. His organization works with those who have experienced conflict or violence and tries to create space where they can come together, both offenders and victims, and work toward reconciliation.

In his work with young people in violent communities he’s learned three things: they all know someone harmed by violence; they know that their communities are dangerous; they don’t believe adults will protect them.

No one person or organization can fix the roots of violence and crime. It takes the community of Chicago working together.

“We need all of us to push in the same direction to create communities of hope,” he said.

Pfleger told the gathering that violence is snatching our future generations.

“We’re losing tomorrow,” he said, adding that communities need the courage, faith and tenacity to eradicate the cancer of violence.

In order to accomplish this, Pfleger said, we must create jobs, deal with underperforming schools, bring economic development to poor neighborhoods, fix the bridge between police and the community and eliminate racism. Like Kelly, Pfleger believes it will require participation from all city neighborhoods, not just the poor ones.

“Our faith demands that we care,” he said. “All of Chicago is in our hands. God will hold us responsible for what we’re doing in all of Chicago, not just our home.”

Bringing together affluent communities like Beverly, which had no murders in 2015 and none so far this year, and poorer ones like Auburn-Gresham is a start.

“We need you and you need us,” he told the gathering. “I’m crazy enough to believe that if we connect it can work in Chicago.”

Amy Fisler, a parishioner at St. Barnabas, attended the prayer service and said she hopes it bridges a gap between the her parish community and that of St. Sabina in addition to helping stem violence in the city. Fisler was a parishioner at St. Sabina for a time and knows of the somewhat rocky history between the two communities.

“That has to happen first anyway. Communities need to be reconciled before white people are even going to care about these communities,” she said.

Fisler teaches at a school in Oak Lawn and has students who go through rough experiences. While it can be intimidating to step out and help sometimes, it has to happen, she said.

“The bridge between race is where it has to start before we can deal with the violence,” she said. For more information, visit


  • gun violence
  • st. sabina
  • st. barnabas
  • father pfleger
  • non-violence
  • beverly
  • auburn-gresham
  • missionaries of the precious blood

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