Submitted by Sr. Mary Jean Raymond-Pastoral Associate, and Father J. Mark Hobson
The members of St. Aloysius Catholic Church in the Glenville neighborhood of Cleveland kept asking themselves and each other these questions.
Motivated by these challenging words, the Pastor, Pastoral Council, and members of St. Aloysius Catholic Church decided to hold a weekly prayer vigil on the steps of the church every Sunday after the 10:00 a.m. service.
It began the Sunday after George Floyd’s death and has continued each week. Like the sit-in protesters at the segregated lunch counter in the Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, NC, when asked. “how long will you be doing this?” the response has been, “as long as it takes!”
The first week’s demonstration lasted exactly 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The Pastor and some members knelt on the front steps, some stood, some leaned on their canes and walkers. The church bells sounded the funeral toll as everyone gathered around a picture of George Floyd. Everyone remained still and silent, even the youngest members sensed that this was a solemn occasion.
In the weeks following, the members have continued to gather. Each week ten new names of black Americans who have died at the hands of law enforcement have been read while the bells toll. A minute of silence follows each name. Then, the entire group has walked across the street to a grassy strip along St. Clair Avenue to plant crosses in memory of the individuals who are being remembered that day. This ritual is open-ended and will continue. It will take all summer to complete the list.
Each week the crowd has grown; each week the line of crosses grows longer; each week we remind ourselves that we must continue, “as long as it takes.”