Church group remembers 2022 murder victims

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – On Saturday, St. Mary’s Church  gathered at Washington Square Park to remember every murder victim of 2022. The group is small, but they hope what they do makes a big impact on the community when it comes to the power of faith.

They say, the purpose of doing this is to bring peace back into those hurting neighborhoods.

“We meet at the site of the homicide to pray for the victim, the victim’s family,” Deacon Ed Knauf said.

St. Mary’s Church has created a prayer circle, at over 70 different murder locations across the Monroe County.

“We want to bring peace back into those neighborhoods, on the street where it happened, to consecrate the ground where it happened, that at some point, this violence will stop.” Knauf said.

It didn’t matter what the weather was, after the news of a tragic death through 2022,  the group met the next day to spend some time praying. Saturday’s vigil, each person held a piece of paper, on it was a date, and a name of each victim. The group said a prayer for the souls of each one, but also prayed for a more peaceful 2023.

“That God loved each one of them into existence and it’s so easy to become numb to the violence.”

One group member, Ed Knauf relives the sadness the group felt, praying around the vigil site for 12-year-old Juan Lopez, who was shot and killed in November.

“We were at the site of the little 12-year-old who was shot and killed senselessly on Atkinson’s Street. To be there and to see the shrine made by his loved ones, and to see pictures of him, he’s a real person and he’s 12, which makes it even more senseless,” Knauf added.

The group says, for anyone who has seen them out in the community, they hope the number one takeaway is hope.

Rochester Police Department’s Open Data Portal says there were 76 homicides this year. 64 of those were shooting deaths, and seven were stabbings.

Seven victims were younger than 18, they were all shot. 40 investigations have been closed this year, for a case closure rate of 54 percent. In 2021, Rochester saw more than 80 homicides.