The pastor of St. Paul’s Church in Wilmington, Del., who is concerned about crime in the neighborhood surrounding the church, recently participated in a march with the Wilmington Peacekeepers and provided this report. Todd posted photos of the event on Facebook.
WILMINGTON, Del. — On May 13, St. Paul’s Church, along with the Wilmington Peacekeepers and Hogar Crea, a local group home for recovering addicts, sponsored a March Against Drugs and Violence in the streets of the Hilltop neighborhood where St. Paul’s is located.
Approximately 75 people participated in the march, including friars Michael Tyson, OFM, Ronald Pecci, OFM, John Frambes, OFM, Christopher Posch, OFM, and novices Gerald Hopeck, OFM, and Michael Reyes, OFM.
The city of Wilmington has seen increased violence in our streets recently. Just two weeks ago, two young men in their 20s were murdered in separate incidents days apart. St. Paul’s held both funerals. It’s not unusual for us to have several funerals a year for murder victims. A couple of weeks ago, while the friars were praying evening prayer, several gunshots rang out on the street just outside our chapel window.
In the past, St. Paul’s has had regular prayer vigils and marches for peace in our streets. With the increased violence recently, we decided to once again have these neighborhood marches for peace. St. Paul’s Charismatic Prayer Group, along with Mike, organized the Thursday evening March Against Drugs and Violence.
The march began at 6 p.m. about 10 blocks from St. Paul’s at a known location for drug deals, and walked through the neighborhood back to the church. The organizers commented that the prime days for drug deals are Thursday and Friday evenings. So at least for the hour that we marched, we were a visible presence of peace in the neighborhood. We hope to have deterred a number of drug deals that would have otherwise taken place. Perhaps we saved a life.
The march began and ended with prayer. We marched through the streets, with Mike leading the charge, chanting in English and Spanish: “What do we need? Peace in our streets.” “No to drugs; yes to life.”
St. Paul’s will hold monthly peace marches through the neighborhood on the second Thursday of each month until November.
A report on the march appeared in the May 14 issue The News Journal, a local Wilmington publication.
— Fr. Todd, a native of Wood-Ridge, N.J., has served as pastor of St. Paul Church, Wilmington, since summer 2008.