Archbishop Nelson Perez leads multi-faith mass honoring victims of gun violence

"Don't underestimate the power of prayer," Archbishop Nelson Perez told worshippers at Chestnut Hill College.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- On each of the 447 shirts lining Chestnut Hill College's campus is a name, age, and a date. Each shirt represented a person who was shot and killed last year in Philadelphia.

"Don't underestimate the power of prayer," Archbishop Nelson Perez told worshippers who gathered in the school's gym on Saturday.

The crowd consisted of people from different faiths who came together to pray for an end to the city's violence.

"We have to pray that hearts be transformed because this is really, at then end, almost like a cancer of the heart," Perez said.

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Perez lead this mass about gun violence. It's a topic he knows well after spending 20 years as a priest in North Philadelphia.

"I buried the victims of gunshots. I walked with and consoled and held the hands of the families of the victims who carry that scar and that void," he said.

His message at mass was about valuing life.
"All faiths shares a concern for their brothers and sisters and children," said Bryan Miller, the executive director of Heeding God's Call to End Gun Violence.

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Miller organized this event to give his faith-based community an outlet to grieve as homicide numbers have climbed even higher in 2021. He wanted everyone to come together to pray for answers.

"That's important to us because faith is positive and inspiring and it's a way for us to bring the power of faith to gun violence prevention," said Miller.

"It's my episcopal motto that every prayer that we make will be answered in some powerful way, shape, or form," said Perez.

The college is dedicating the rest of the month to non-violence initiatives. The next event will be a peace walk through campus on Wednesday.
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