Bishop Fisher hosts prayer for peace in Niagara Square
Bishop Michael W. Fisher speaks with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown about his concerns with gun violence in Western New York. The two took part in a prayer rally in Niagara Square on July 21.
Area clergy and concerned citizens gathered in Niagara Square on Wednesday, July 21, to call for peace on the streets of Western New York. The recent rash of gun violence led Bishop Michael W. Fisher to host the prayerful community gathering. Mayor Byron Brown and District Attorney John Flynn spoke. Members of New York Pastors for Life, Buffalo Peacemakers, PeacePrints of WNY, Stop the Violence Coalition, as well as members of area faith communities were also in attendance.
“One thing, I think, we can all agree upon is a call to join together in solidarity for peace in our streets,” said Cheryl Calire, executive director of the Office of Pastoral Ministries for the Diocese of Buffalo, in welcoming the large crowd that had come to witness the rally. “Regardless of your faith, your race, your political beliefs, we need to join together to say enough is enough. The violence that is occurring has many facets as we all know – domestic violence, drug related, gang related among the few. The end result is always the same. It’s the loss of life for some, and life-changing for all of those left behind.”
Bishop Fisher said that by nature of being people of faith, we are called to pray and to work for peace.
“Your attendance provides a clear recognition that we are in this together, and that the problems facing our city and communities, the unacceptable violence and the tragedies it causes are ours together to solve,” he said.
In Buffalo for only six months, the bishop has already found the city to be a beautiful home thanks to the warmth of the people and the countless expressions of support he has received.
“There is so much for us to rejoice and celebrate about our city of Buffalo, so many beautiful gifts and assets. The richness of our diverse communities, the vibrancy of our many cultures indeed are aspects we must constantly celebrate and cherish. We must also acknowledge that there are real challenges and that people are suffering. They’re systematic inequalities that fuel desperation, a sense of hopelessness, which lead too many of our young people to believe that a life of crime is their only option. The work of our dedicated men and women sworn to serve and protect in law enforcement can go only so far. But, the work of creating better neighborhoods and communities where pathways to possibilities to opportunities are clear and accessible to all.
“This is the work of each and every one of us, and especially belongs to those who have the means to bring about meaningful and lasting change.”
Mayor Brown followed the bishop’s theme of unity.
“Prayer has the power to change things for the better. The collective prayers of many are particularly powerful,” he said, adding, “Yes, we know prayer works and prayer has power, and I know the collective prayers of all of us here today, and so many others across the city and region will have an impact on the increase of violence that we’ve seen in the city of Buffalo.”
Calling violent crimes “inexcusable” and “intolerable,” Mayor Brown encouraged the continuous effort to bring peace to the streets.
“As a community, it is critically important for us to pray for an end of the violence, to pray for peace, but I also ask, as mayor of the city of Buffalo, that we work every day for peace, that we work every day collectively as a people for an end to violence,” he said.
Father William “Jud” Weiksnar, pastor of SS. Columba-Brigid Parish in Buffalo, who witnessed gun violence first hand when a stray bullet hit his office a month ago, suggested concerned citizen work with PeacePrints of WNY or start a prison ministry group at their house of worship.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz declared gun violence a public health crisis yesterday. The Erie County Crime Analysis Center reported that homicides have increased over the past four years from 46 in 2017 to 69 in 2020.