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Responding to violence with prayer

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

CATHEDRAL DEANERY — Members of St. Francis Seraph Parish in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine were among those who gathered June 9 for a vigil to remember three young murder victims and pray for an end to the recent violence that has plagued the neighborhood.

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Joan Hoxsey reads a prayer at the candlelight vigil, held outside the address where the three were slain. (CT/Tony Tribble)

Several church and community groups took part in the vigil, held at 13th and Pendleton streets outside the apartment of Noelle Washington, 19. Washington, her 9-month-old son, Anthony Jones, and Sharailyn Wright, 3, were shot to death earlier this month. Cincinnati police have named Mark Pickens a “person of interest,” but at press time no charges had been filed in the triple homicide.

Joan Hoxey, a parishioner at St. Francis Seraph and member of its peace and justice commission, was involved in organizing the vigil. “Our main goal was to express our caring,” she said. “We wanted to reclaim the space and bless it. Mostly, we wanted to give consolation to those who suffered this loss. St. Francis Seraph is there to be a presence in the neighborhood.”

Approximately 40 people were on hand, Hoxey said, including representatives from the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence and neighborhood residents. The group held a candlelight service, prayed together and placed messages of caring and hope on large poster boards outside the apartment building.

“We wanted to let the people in the neighborhood know that we care,” said Joanne Thiemann, also a parishioner at St. Francis Seraph. “The violence has to stop. It’s just horrendous what is happening, and one way that we can respond is with prayer.”

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