Nearly 100 Utahns walked rain-dampened streets in downtown Salt Lake City on Sunday afternoon on a two-hour "March for Peace and Justice," answering a call by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to take part in a nationwide demonstration on behalf of immigrants and the poor.
The 2.2-mile walk began in the parking lot of the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen with a prayer for those who are unable to meet their basic needs. The march ended at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, where many of those who participated attended Mass.
"We are here to bring attention to the plight of immigrants, as well as the poor. And so often, those issues are one and the same," said Jean Hill, government liaison and director of the Peace and Justice Commission at the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.
Along the way to the cathedral on South Temple, marchers stopped at the Fourth Street Clinic, a facility that provides health care for the homeless. There, a prayer was offered on behalf of those without adequate health insurance to address otherwise treatable conditions.
At the federal courthouse on Main Street, a prayer was offered for those who face deportation or have loved ones living under such a risk.
"Immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship may soon be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives," Hill said. "So we are marching to add our voices to those hoping for a real debate on immigration reform and passage of a measure that will alleviate at least some of the suffering our system is now causing people."
Marchers also stopped at the Federal Building on State Street. And there, a prayer was offered on behalf of the members of Congress who are working on immigration reform and poverty issues.
Pastor Steve Klemz of the Zion Lutheran Church participated in the march with several members of his congregation.
"How we deal with these issues speak to who we are as people," he said. "And I felt strongly that this event was important and that we needed to be here."
Hill explained that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops asked members of that faith to engage in a pilgrimage between Aug. 15 and Oct. 15 on behalf of immigrants, and the event in Salt Lake City was the answer to that request.
For Maria DeAlba, the march was an opportunity to express support for family and community. "These are issues that affect families, and it is important that they be addressed."