In addition to Cardinal Cupich, Mercy Home’s President/CEO Fr. Scott Donahue addressed the media to pledge Mercy Home’s support of the effort and to announce a partnership between the Archdiocese and Youth Guidance, which developed the Becoming a Man and Working on Womanhood program that has been used successfully with our young people, to establish similar programs and the parish and school levels.
“The only way to break this cycle of violence is by reaching out and saving one life at a time,” Fr. Scott said. “We must rebuild around each one of these young people the circle of support many of us take for granted in our families. Young people cannot reject violence if that’s the only thing they have known. They cannot reject violence if retaliation is the only response they have seen, if the gang is the only support system they’ve experienced in their young lives.”
Monsignor Michael Boland, President and CEO of Catholic Charities, also expressed support for the initiative and described his organization’s work in addressing the causes and effects of violence and helping people in need.
“Catholic Charities provides shelter and counseling, job training and housing assistance to ease the desperation that begets violence,” Boland said. “We have seen violence reduced by interventions such as these and we know we can make a difference if we spread our impact even further.”
Fr. Scott and Monsignor Boland co-chaired the Archdiocese’s anti-violence committee, which meets at Mercy Home.
The announcement made headlines across the country, and enjoyed support from Pope Francis, who encouraged Chicago’s peacemakers in a letter, which Cardinal Cupich read at the press conference.
WALK WITH US FOR PEACE
As part of the program, the Cardinal is inviting all people of good will to join him for a Walk for Peace through the Englewood community on Good Friday, April 14. The walk will begin at St. Benedict the African Church, at the corner of 66th Street and Stewart Avenue. During the walk, participants will trace the Stations of the Cross and pause along the way to remember those whose lives were lost to violence.
In Pope Francis’ letter to Chicagoans, the Holy Father pledged his support to marchers, writing, “As I make my own Way of the Cross in Rome that day, I will accompany you in prayer, as well as all those who walk with you and who have suffered violence in the city.”
Photos courtesy of the Chicago Catholic