A man stabbed and shot in a gas station parking lot on Portland Avenue.
A shooting on Hayward Avenue in which a woman lost her life.
A man caught in crossfire and killed on First Street.
These are but a few of the dozens of homicides that have occurred in Rochester over the past 15 months.
In response to the wave of violence, Catholics and other Christians will march through a northeast Rochester neighborhood on Good Friday, April 15, stopping at 14 crime scenes to reflect and pray for peace with the Stations of the Cross.
This ecumenical walk for peace — organized by St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish and offered in both English and Spanish — will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Corpus Christi Church on East Main Street and head toward St. Michael Church on North Clinton Avenue. Along the way, prayers will be offered for the deceased, and some participants will dress as characters from the Passion narrative and act out the Stations of the Cross.
The walk will end around 2:30 p.m. at St. Michael Church, where participants will be treated to a half hour of sacred music before the start of the 3 p.m. Good Friday service.
Healing power of prayer
“Prayer has a way of bringing us together, of giving us a common horizon, and that in itself is healing,” said Father Daniel Ruiz, pastor of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, which comprises Corpus Christi, St. Michael and Annunciation churches. “For those of us who have faith, we clearly believe that God hears our prayer and will intervene. It may be in mysterious ways that we don’t always easily see, but that God is always at work.”
Father Ruiz pointed out that having the walk on Good Friday — and incorporating the Stations of the Cross in particular — pays homage to a tradition in Rochester’s Latino community that spans at least five decades.
This year, however, an invitation to participate has gone out to the wider community, regardless of race or religion.
All denominations seek justice
Alan Dailey, interim executive director of the Greater Rochester Community of Churches, has participated in similar walks for years, joining up to 250 people at times for prayers and Stations of the Cross along routes touched by poverty and violence.
The work for justice spreads across all denominations, he noted.
“Irrespective of any doctrinal differences — and there often are subtle ones — peace and justice was Jesus’s main message. That’s why there’s a need for it,” Dailey said of ecumenical walks.
In addition, he said, “It’s an incredible way for me to spend a couple of hours on Good Friday, and it helps me stay focused in an environment I might not normally be in.”
‘There will be a better tomorrow’
Bringing people together in this way, Father Ruiz noted, helps inspire hope, solidarity and reconciliation.
“I think it’s also a beautiful thing for the people in the city to see that so many people care,” he said. “They’re not alone. Our presence will be that sign of God’s presence with them.”
In addition to the ecumenical walk for peace, Father Ruiz said his parish is planning other events, such as neighborhood clean-ups and food and clothing distributions, between Memorial Day and Labor Day to help offer assistance where needed.
“The city is hurting, and we need to find ways to bring hope,” he said. “People care, God cares and there will be a better tomorrow.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: To take part in the ecumenical walk for peace, sign up at www.tinyurl.com/WalkforPeaceRochester, call or text Father Daniel Ruiz at 585-210-3024, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.