The annual ceremony is intended to promote peace in an area that often is the site of gang violence

By Staff     3/22/2016

Hundreds of parishioners and members of the clergy joined together for the 23rd annual Blessing of the Streets procession, dedicated to promoting peace and community through the streets of Santa Ana. The event took place on Palm Sunday afternoon. The procession was started in 1993 by the parish’s former pastor, Rev. Christopher Smith, in response to a surge in violence and the gang-related shooting of several teens and a two-year old child in the Minter Street neighborhood. This procession is a wonderful opportunity for the community to stand together against violence and ask for God’s blessings.

“There has been a decrease in violence since Fr. Smith began this procession and blessing in 1993. However, Santa Ana has seen an uptick in violence this year and continues to be the most violent city in Orange County. It is important that we remain vigilant and committed to Christ’s mission of peace. It is in this spirit that we celebrate the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday by taking back our Santa Ana streets in his name,” said Fr. Flores.

Fr. Flores also noted that within just a few blocks of St. Joseph are state and federal courthouses, city and county jails, and the headquarters of both the Orange County Sheriff and the Santa Ana Police. “That means that our Blessing of the Streets on Palm Sunday is not just about praying for peace and justice in our own immediate neighborhood,” said Fr. Flores, “but extends to all of those folks who work or are incarcerated in those facilities, asking God to guide them in responding to violence committed in every other part of Orange County with Christ’s peace, justice and love.”

The Blessing of the Streets included a procession of several hundred St. Joseph parishioners and visitors from other churches and faith communities in the area and stopped at several temporary altars to offer prayers for peace, celebrating one of the most holy days in the Christian calendar, while calling on God to bless and protect their local community. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week and is the day Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem with crowds waving palm fronds prior to his crucifixion.