After violence, an interfaith walk

Posted: April 23, 2013

By Jim McGovern

The 10th annual Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation is scheduled for Sunday. When I heard the news about the attack in Boston, I wondered if we would still walk.

Of course we will. In fact, everything we stand for is in direct opposition to the shameless act of hate and violence that rocked the world last week.

On Sunday, walking together will be Muslims and Jews, Christians and Sikhs, Buddhists and seculars, and on and on. We will honor and celebrate our fellowship and the messages of peace and connectedness found in all these great religions, but even more so in the deepest crevices of our hearts.

At 2 p.m. we will gather and pray at Al-Aqsa mosque, at Third and Jefferson. There will be prayers, singing, and poetry by Philadelphia poet laureate Sonia Sanchez and others at our second stop, St. Augustine's Catholic Church at Fourth and Vine. We will close and have a great meal at Rodeph Shalom synagogue at Broad and Green.

On the way, as we walk, we will share, with friends we've never met before, something of our story while hearing something of theirs. We will celebrate and embrace our diversity. We will pray with our feet. Our banners will not be political - they will be about peace.

Being that this is our 10th walk, we are retracing the steps of our first one. Never will I forget the very real shakes and vibration I felt as the imam from Al-Aqsa chanted from the Quran on the altar at St. Augustine's. It seemed like we all were walking on new ground; the power of love and reconciliation seemed to have entered our pores. Sitting in the great hall at Rodeph at the end of that day, gazing at the hordes of happy and satisfied faces, we knew we had done something that was good; we had started something that would grow.

Essentially then, still in the shadow of 9/11, we walked as an antidote to the hate, terror, and prejudice that we saw around us. Ten years later, in the shadow of another cowardly and unforgivable act of violence, we will walk again.

We would be blessed and honored to have you join us.

Jim McGovern is a local writer who works as a drug-alcohol counselor and facilitates a 12-step class for the nonaddicted. Contact him at or For more information about the walk, including parking and the availability of buses trailing the event, visit

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