When we started planning our family’s Mothers’ Day celebration, it was really easy. For years, I’d wanted to participate in the annual Mothers’ Walk for Peace, an effort begun by a local Mom who lost her son to gun violence on the streets of Boston. This year, we were going to be at home, instead of traveling for a First Communion or other family event, as we have been on many recent Mothers’ Days. So, we packed up some sun screen, water bottles and snacks and the four of us were off to Dorchester by 7:30 A.M. As we approached the park where the walk would kick off, we saw huge crowds of people streaming towards it. We greeted teachers and families we knew from our daughters’ school, and joined the church group we’d registered to walk with. As the final speakers shared their stories of loss, forgiveness, and commitment to peace, and the walk began, we couldn’t believe how many people had turned out to stand together in hope.
Every time our walk brought us in contact with a person or family carrying a poster or prayer card, or wearing buttons or t-shirts honoring the memory of someone lost to violence, I asked if they would share their stories. Mothers, grandmothers,fathers,siblings, cousins, even a child talked about what made their loved one unique, and what they missed most about them. They told me about the shock of getting this tragic news, and of how seldom thery get answers about what happened. They said how hard it is to know there are dozens of kids in their neighborhoods, but to know they are held inside, because it’s not safe for them to go out.
As I heard all of this, it was clear to me that what many families need is help in preventing violence in their neighborhoods and communities, and justice and support when it occurs. The families who walked were buoyed by the outpouring of solidarity from the tens of thousands who put their feet to the pavement in a call for peace. Will our religious leaders hear this call? Will they realize that families–all families–deserve to be safe, respected, and at peace? That’s the hope and prayer of this mother, and I know it’s echoed by millions of others.