PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — In response to escalating violence here, St. Francis Inn, the Catholic Worker Community, and several neighborhood organizations dedicated a Peace Pole on April 15. Philadelphia, which has been called the “murder capital of the world,” has experienced 112 deaths so far this year.
The pole is inscribed with peace messages in the four languages spoken in the neighborhood — Spanish, Polish, Vietnamese and English. A member of each participating group read peace messages in these languages.
Karen Pushaw and Barbara Salapek, members of the St. Francis Inn team, led the chapel in prayers which included the tolling of a bell in remembrance of the victims, periods of silence, and the reading of names of the victims. Those in attendance were offered flowering plants to take to their homes or ministry sites to plant in honor of the victims. Thus, a visible sign will be present throughout the neighborhood reminding all of the many of us who are dedicated to ways of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace.
Due to extremely rainy weather that Sunday, the prayer service was held inside. Later that week, the pole was placed outside in the garden for the edification and inspiration of passersby.
In the photo, Barbara Salapek holds the Peace Pole as Xavier De la Huerta prays in Spanish.
— Michael Duffy is a team member of St. Francis Inn.