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Event urges reflection on immigration
Religious groups plan walk beginning in Gainesville, ending in Atlanta
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Interfaith Pilgrimage for Immigrants

March 28
Gainesville to Oakwood
10 a.m.: Mass at St. Michael Catholic Church Pastoral Center, 622 Shallowford Road, Gainesville
11:15 a.m.: Pilgrimage begins
3 p.m.: Pilgrimage ends at Gainesville State College, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood

March 29
9 a.m.: Assemble at Rhodes Jordan Park, 100 E. Crogan St. (will include a stop for prayer at Gwinnett Sheriff’s Department)
3 p.m.: Pilgrimage ends at Rhodes Jordan Park

March 30
Lilburn to Duluth, Dalton
9 a.m.: Pilgrimage begins at Our Lady of the Americas Mission, 4603 Lawrenceville Highway, Lilburn
3 p.m.: Pilgrimage ends at Santa Fe Mall, 3750 Venture Blvd., Duluth
6 p.m.: Prayer vigil at Coalition of Latino Leaders office, Suite K, 911 E. Morris St., Dalton

March 31
Atlanta, Cartersville
9 a.m.: Mass at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 3773 Chamblee-Tucker Road, Atlanta
10 a.m.: Pilgrimage begins at Holy Cross and travels down Buford Highway
2:30 p.m.: Pilgrimage ends at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, 2855 Briarcliff Road NE, Atlanta
4 p.m.: Pilgrimage begins at Douglas Street United Methodist Church, 219 Douglas St., Cartersville
6 p.m.: Pilgrimage ends at St. Francis Catholic Church, 850 Douthit Ferry Road, Cartersville

April 1
Smyrna to Marietta
9:15 a.m.: Prayer service and pilgrimage commencement at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 4300 King Springs Road, Smyrna
3 p.m.: Foot washing at Marietta Square, 50 E. Park Square, Marietta
4 p.m.: Pilgrimage ends at Marietta Square

April 2
9 a.m.: Begin at State Capitol, Washington Street side between Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Mitchell Street
1 p.m.: Ends at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Crypt. Buses will be available at conclusion of event to transport participants from King Center to the State Capitol area.

For the second year, local religious groups will walk from Gainesville to Atlanta, stopping to pray, reflect and raise awareness to the plight faced by many immigrants.

The Interfaith Pilgrimage for Immigrants begins Sunday in Gainesville.

“It’s just to recognize that we’re all people no matter where we’re from,” said JP Edwards, one of the event sponsors and a member of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Smyrna. “We’re all equal in God’s eyes.”

Last year, about 1,300 people joined in the pilgrimage, with about 200 participating in the Gainesville leg of the journey.

Participants will journey through immigrant communities and places where organizers say immigrants unjustly suffer. The group will wind its way from Gainesville through Lawrenceville, Duluth, Lilburn, Dalton, Cartersville, Smyrna and Marietta before ending in Atlanta.

The journey begins at the new St. Michael Catholic Church Pastoral Center on Shallowford Road in Gainesville.

One of the stops on the pilgrimage will be the North Georgia Detention Center, operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

Edwards said the group supports immigration reform and stands against detention in private facilities like the one in Gainesville.

“It is overly restrictive and costly,” Edwards said. “And in a lot of facilities there’s been reports of abuse.”

Though the pilgrimage seeks to address immigration issues in Georgia, Edwards said it will be a peaceful march that is open to everyone.

“We ask that people respect that this is a prayer, not a protest,” Edwards said. “There will be moments of silence and reflection, there will be songs, prayers and maybe stories of people in the community who have had challenges with immigration.”

The events fall during the Christian Holy Week and Jewish Passover. Edwards said the timing is not a coincidence.

“The place where people of different races and backgrounds can come together is often within the churches,” Edwards said. “Almost all major religions do talk about how we are all equal; we are each other’s brothers, and we are part of one body.”

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