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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

Sisters, community protest gun violence in silence Saturday morning

Sisters of the Holy Cross, members of the Church of Our Lady of Loretto and other community members gather outside of Saint Mary’s for a silent demonstration against gun violence on the first Saturday of every month.

This Saturday was no different — sisters and the community rallied at the corner of State Road 933 and Brother Andre Drive.

Sr. Joy O'Grady is one of the original organizers of the demonstration and she explained the origin of it.

“Anne Luther was the instigator and she got with me and we talked and just started inviting people,” O'Grady said.

O'Grady said the first demonstration ever took place on Good Friday.

“We had the walk and then we went to church, so it was like taking action into our prayer," she said. “We had about 130 people that time and so we decided we would do it the first Saturday of every month going forward.”

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Sisters from the Church of Our Lady of Loretto and other community members gathered with signs outside of Saint Mary's to protest gun violence.


O’Grady explained the purpose of being silent during the demonstration.

“It’s a contemplative walk,” she said. “We walk in silence in support of banning assault weapons and try to do all we can to prevent gun violence.”

Tess Hayes, a Saint Mary's student who has previously attended the demonstrations, expanded on the meaning of the silence.

“We learn in communications that everything is communication. Silence is a form of communication,” Hayes said. “This is to show that some protests really are peaceful. I think it’s advertised as a silent protest and that’s a form of prayer almost. It’s a reflective practice that is happening as they are walking down 933 and that’s actually really beautiful.”

Sr. Judith Hallock was also in attendance this previous Saturday and talked about her motivations for demonstrating.

“I’m very concerned about the gun violence in our country,” Hallock said. “I think it’s a very serious issue and we’re not taking guns away from people. But some of the automatic rifles and things are not needed.”

O'Grady said that she is also not opposed to guns across the board.

“I feel that it’s extremely important for all the deaths that have occurred of our young people,” O'Grady. “We are not against guns, but we feel there needs to be interviews of people to make sure they are going to use the guns in a healthy and safe manner.”

The sisters are really dedicated to spreading awareness on the dangers that guns have in local communities, Hayes added.

“They want to ensure that they’re leaving behind a legacy because we are the future and it’s up to us to be able to change legislation,” Hayes said. “They want to ensure that we are safe and that our children are safe.”

Hayes, O’Grady and Hallock all said there were not enough student supporters at the demonstration.

“Disappointingly, it’s mostly older people," O'Grady said. “You see very few young people but it’s them that have to take responsibility for the future of our health and safety.”

Hallock said she encourages students to make signs about banning assault weapons and to join the walk.

“It’s sometimes people from the whole county that come in but encourage the campus community,” Hallock said. “This is a wonderful way to put our faith in action.”

The demonstration is worth checking out if one has time on a Saturday morning, Hayes added.

“Hear the stories that have inspired these women to begin this protest,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be a part of a strong community of women who are advocating for others. I encourage my residents to attend, encourage my friends.”

Hayes said that demonstrating with the sisters is a great way for people to begin their journey in making their voice heard.

“I know that going to a protest can sometimes seem a little daunting, but there’s something about protesting with the sisters that makes it much less daunting,” Hayes said. “If someone is eager to try or it sparks an interest, that’s the place to do it and they’re the people to do it with. It’ll teach you a thing or two about life and how to live, especially live in a community.”

The sisters plan to continue to have their demonstrations on the first Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., “unless there is a blizzard or something,” O’Grady said.