PHILADELPHIA — Roughly 500 people of different faiths — Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and others — crowded into St. Francis Inn’s courtyard last month to engage in conversation, reflection and action during the 11th annual Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation.
The peace walk is not a march, protest or demonstration. Rather, it serves as a walking dialogue that engages faith groups and other communities in the hopes of facilitating peace, justice and reconciliation. This year’s theme was “Side by Side on Sacred Ground: Celebrating Transformations.”
The April 27 event began at the Al Aqsa Mosque, a 25-minute walk away from the Inn. Steven Patti, OFM, and Franciscan Volunteer Minister Tammy Kinney spoke on the Inn’s ministries, and participants listened to a talk on peace in the Muslim tradition.
After sharing prayers, speech and song, the group walked to St. Francis Inn, where they were welcomed in the courtyard by Michael Duffy, OFM, guardian of Juniper Friary. A physician assistant from the local Catholic Worker Clinic gave a talk before Franciscan Volunteer Ministers Kinney and Timothy Quinn led the group in several peace songs.
The last stop on the peace walk came at the West Kensington Ministry at Norris Square, a few blocks away from the Inn. There, the walkers listened to a peace reflection from the Jewish tradition, the chanting of a Hindu prayer and music. The walk ended with food and fellowship in the West Kensington Ministry’s Social Hall.
“The tone of the walk was contemplative,” according to a blog post on the Inn’s website. “The intention is to celebrate our unity and learn from one another as we walk from one house of worship to another.”
Created in 2003, the peace walk was formed when a group of Jews, Muslims and Christians came together to work to increase dialogue and understanding across the traditional divisions of religion, culture and race, according to the walk’s website. The event has since expanded beyond the Abrahamic faiths. All are welcome to participate.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.