The Urban Church

By Archbishop William E. Lori

The Catholic Review


Earlier this week, Bishop Denis J. Madden, whose vicariate includes Baltimore City, and Spiritan Father Evod Shao, pastor of St. Edward Church in West Baltimore, led a prayer walk through the violent streets surrounding the parish. They were joined by a number of parishioners and others from the neighborhood who have recently watched the violence on those streets escalate. They prayed as they walked. They prayed for an end to the violence, for the return of peace to their neighborhood, for God’s intervention and an end to the drug turf wars that often are the cause for the otherwise senseless violence that seems to be pervasive in the city that is the heart of our archdiocese.

Others have led similar efforts. In fact, prayer walks have become a familiar scene in Baltimore of late. Ministers of other faith traditions have brought people together to pray on street corners, to canvass the city and even to caravan to locations throughout Baltimore where murders have recently occurred.

People may ask what good prayer can do to combat such wanton, murderous violence. As people of faith, we believe it can do a lot of good. We certainly can’t go out and arrest the drug dealers. But we can pray for them, and we can pray for their victims, for the families they are destroying, for the neighborhoods they are terrorizing, and the city they are intimidating.

Prayer is our greatest gift to our suffering city. But it is not our only gift.

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