St. Benedict Parish invites community to remember George Floyd

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, June 2, 2021

St. Benedict Parish invites community to remember George Floyd

Members of St. Benedict Parish’s Pathways Toward Peace ministry led an outdoor ecumenical prayer service marking the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2021 outside of the church. Parishioners from St. Benedict’s and Christians from Pilgrim Lutheran Church, Jesus People and Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church participated in the event which concluded with people standing on corners near the church in solidarity for racial justice. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
A participant holds up a sign to passing motorists on Irving Park Road. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Keith Butler from St. Mary of the Lake Parish and Bill Esler from St. Benedict Parish hold up signs to passing motorists. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
On far right, Father Manuel Durantes, pastor of St. Mary of the Lake, visits with participants. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Mia Boayue and her daughter, from St. Benedict Prepartory School, hold up a Black Lives Matter sign to passing motorists. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
(Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

On May 25, the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, St. Benedict Parish, 2215 W. Irving Park Road, hosted an ecumenical prayer service on the church’s front steps. After the service, participants lined the busy thoroughfare with signs promoting racial justice.

The event was organized by Pathways Toward Peace, a parish ministry that began in response to Floyd’s murder in 2020. The group began meeting to discuss issues of race and inequality, and how they affect the community. The group has been meeting online every two weeks for nearly a year and has hosted several events, including a family-friendly Black Lives Matter rally, movie nights and guests lecturers.

For the May 25 event, members of St. Mary of the Lake Parish, Pilgrim Lutheran Church, Jesus People and Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church joined in the prayer service and public witness. Many drivers honked their horns in recognition of the group’s message.

Collins Hunter, one of the cofounders of Pathways Toward Peace, said the group continues to grow.

“We’ve touched over about 130 lives now throughout the year,” Hunter said.

Injustice against African Americans is not the only focus of their ministry. It is any injustice. The group has invited members of the Native American and Latino communities to speak, along with people of Irish descent, who spoke of the persecution their ancestors experienced when immigrating to the United States in the 19th century.

“It’s really a care-and-share group,” Hunter said. “We really are standing for one another to talk about oppression and injustice in a way that we can hear one another and not dismiss what’s been going on.”

Pathways Toward Peace and the event remembering George Floyd is an extension of a wider effort, he said.

“I see this as a continuation of the movement around the globe for justice,” Hunter said. “People do realize that economics is truly a factor in this and how we distribute wealth in the society and it’s not going to go away any time quickly. We really have to continue to speak up.”

Mia Boayue, a member of Pathways Toward Peace and a parent from St. Benedict Preparatory School, volunteers in the school to promote racial justice and diversity. The school has held events like a diversity book drive and poetry slams.

“I just feel like, as a parent, it’s really important to stand for inclusivity,” she said. “Not just Black lives matter, but everyone’s lives matter.”

It is all about transforming human souls, Boayue said.

“Today I stand for South Asian hate and Black lives matter,” she said. “Any culture whose house is on fire, I want to be there to put it out with the water. I just happen to be of African American descent, but my part is for humanity. Period. That’s why I show up here today. That’s why I want to be an example for my daughter.”

She appreciates that St. Benedict shows students, parents and the community that is what they stand for too.

“For me, just every day, it is important to stand for something,” Boayue said. “And when I can stand with others for something that is empowering.”

“I came today because I’m against racism and anything to protest the racism in our country and to try and help promote tolerance for each other and acceptance of each other,” said John Kussmann of St. Mary of the Lake Parish.

The event was an expression of loving our neighbor, he said.

“I think it helps the people who show up because it gives a certain unity,” Kussmann said. “As you can see by the horns honking, it touches a lot of people and just shows how much people support a racially diverse society.”


  • race relations
  • racial justice

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