Archbishop Aymond calls for an end to violence in the city

Archbishop Aymond calls for an end to violence in the city

Dealing with the murder of her 19-year-old grandson is still hard for Jacqueline Simmons.

"We don't know who it was, we don't know why," said Simmons. "All I know is at 9:30, police called me and told me he was dead."

Simmons's grandson, Edward Isom, would have turned 21 this year.

"I was his world. He was my world," said Simmons. Now, she takes some comfort in being near others who have also lost loved ones to violence.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans and Archbishop Gregory Aymond held a mass for victims of crime and their families Sunday. More than 120 survivors, victims and family members joined the congregation at St. Louis Cathedral to pray for peace. Framed photos of lost loved ones lined a table.

"Violence not only affects the victims," said Archbishop Aymond during his sermon. "It has a rippling effect on families and neighbors."

In the special mass, the Archbishop also urged people to speak up against it.

"Silence is violence," said Aymond. "If we know something and we can bring about justice, we contribute to the violence. Besides that we also must be voices for life, human dignity, and human respect in our lives."

Frank Martin lost his daughter, Keisha Johnson, this year.

"She was murdered by the fairgrounds," explained Martin. "I miss my daughter. The kids miss their mom too. She's not forgotten - that's what I really care about."

This is Martin's first year attending the special service.

"It really touched me in the heart," said Martin. "What the father said about peace - talking it out, stopping the violence. That's the main goal."

It's something Jacqueline Simmons hopes for too.

"If you kill my child over drugs - you don't have your money, you don't have your drugs," she said. "Just a life gone, and you have hurt so many other lives. Is it worth it?"

It's a question many families say they continue to ask, as they work towards healing from the hurt.

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