Sunday, June 14, 2009

We have come SOfAR!

Day one of the 2009 Pilgrimage of Remembrance is over and it was a great start!!!

We began with a mass at the Doggett Center in Raleigh, with a special blessing by Fr. Alex and a wonderful procession after mass - the parishioners processed for the feast of Corpus Christi and also in solidarity with us. We had a wonderful nourishing brunch after the spiritually nourishing celebration with so many friends. We presented Fr. Alex with a T-shirt.

We gathered outside for a group picture. We're ready to walk!!

We were soon on our way to Central Prison, a mere 6/10 of a mile from the Doggett Center.

At Central Prison, Tarrah, from the North Carolina Coalition for a Moratorium and her husband, and Will with the Fair Trial Initiative and his partner joined us. Fr. David from St. Francis of Assisi lead an opening prayer.
We waved to the prisoners in Central Prison and were soon on our way.

Ellen and Moira show the 2009 T-Shirts in front of Central Prison.

We stopped briefly at the NC State Capitol building, where Governor Bev Perdue may be called to make a life or death decision in future clemency appeals. We prayed that the death penalty will be abolished before that is needed.

We continued walking and stopped in a Southeast Raleigh neighborhood, the site of three murders so far in 2009. Rev. Hardy Watkins, pastor of a neighborhood church, spoke to us about the community efforts to stop violent crime in the neighborhood and what the violence does to the families who live there. The local churches are uniting in trying to give positive choices to the youth in the area - to let them know that someone cares for them. He also spoke of the effects of gentrification on the neighborhood - the small houses which get refurbished and priced beyond the reach of the current residents, forcing them to move.

From here, we walked to the Women's prison off (ironically) Martin Luther King Blvd. About 1200 women are imprisoned here; four are on death row. We prayed for restorative justice rather than retribution.

We were soon walking again and picked up the pace - we had a long distance to go today. We put in another 8 miles, for a total of 13 miles today. Five of us ran the last two while our sag wagon driver's shuttled people to St. Mark's Episcopal Church where friends had assembled a pot luck dinner for us. It was a refreshing end to a wonderful start. We are anxious to go back out tomorrow and start walking again. We have SOfAR to go!

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