Youth like them are exposed every day to violence in that area in East Los Angeles, increasing worries and tension within the community. In the course of 74 days this spring, five men were murdered within a mile radius of the Jesuit-administered parish.To help ease the tension, Dolores Mission parishioners led by their pastor and associate pastor, Jesuit Fathers Scott Santarosa and Ted Gabrielli, held the first Peace Walk to raise awareness of the need of more unity, peace and more security measures in the community against crime. During the June 13 walk, prayers were said and parishioners addressed participants at the site where each man was murdered.Hernan Rubalcaba, 35; Ricky Orozco, 27; Emmanuel Vargas, 29; Eddie Banks Jr., 42; and Frankie Velasquez, 19, were killed between March 26 and June 7, allegedly in gang-related activities. According to reports, 87 homicides have been reported in Boyle Heights since 2007, a considerable decrease compared to just a decade ago, but still alarming, said residents. “He was quiet and respectful,” Bertha Llamas, 35, told The Tidings about her son-in-law Velasquez, a manufacturing worker who is survived by his wife Valerie Rivera, 19, and their eight-month-old son Erick.On May 5 at about 9:30 p.m. he was walking to the store on the corner of Gless and First Streets (same block of Dolores Mission) with his nephew, when a man walking ahead of them turned around and shot six times at Velasquez, each bullet striking a different part of his body. He died the next day at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center.“We need more peace walks and we need more police patrol; we hardly see any police around anymore,” continued Llamas, a Dolores Mission parishioner for more than 20 years, who grew up in Boyle Heights and is now trying to figure out how she can support her daughter and her grandson. “The community can only do so much,” she added. The peace walk brought back sad memories, she said. Her husband Erick Rivera killed himself 17 years ago, leaving her with three children. She was 18 then; now, she said mournfully, she can teach her daughter how to be strong in the midst of the pain.Last week the family received a monetary donation collected from food sales at the church to support them in this difficult time.The June 13 walk started with a blessing at the church’s plaza, where Father Santarosa told about 70 participants to remember that the deceased are not simple “statistics, but men, sons and fathers.” He asked them to remember that the area is “not an ordinary neighborhood, but our neighborhood,” where violence is not accepted.“We commit to work for peace, which defeats hate and violence,” Father Santarosa declared as participants made the first stop on Gless Street in front of Rubalcaba’s home in an apartment complex. Rubalcaba — the oldest of five children — was killed nearby on June 1. “We don’t want more youth dying on these streets,” he said. “We feel the pain, but at the same time we’re glad to be here,” Araceli Ramírez told The Tidings, while she walked with her husband Salvador and their three young daughters.The members of Victory Outreach Christian Church just moved to the neighborhood and joined the walk, because “we are against violence and this walk benefits the whole neighborhood.” “We don’t want to keep burying our children, we don’t want to cry anymore,” Rita Chairez, a longtime Dolores Mission parishioner and victims’ advocate at the archdiocesan Office of Restorative Justice, told the crowd at the corner of First and Bailey Streets, where Banks Jr. was shot. A teddy bear, candles and flowers standing at the foot of a tree were reminders of the tragedy.“We want peace in our barrio!” and “Stop violence!” were among chants heard throughout the two-hour walk.Adding a more positive note to the event, community leader Delmira González, a Dolores Mission parishioner for the last 30 years, announced the approval of a $10,000 grant for the Safe and Fun Summer program for children ages seven to 17.In its third consecutive year, the program runs at the Boyle Heights parish with the help of a group of volunteers to keep children away from the streets and involve them in fun, educational activities, while their parents work two or more jobs.“This also helps stop the violence,” González told The Tidings while walking on First Street heading to the last stop of the one square-mile walk.At the site where Velasquez was shot, six-year-old Christopher Mu√±oz narrated how he was playing at a nearby park when he heard a strong sound.“I was scared,” he said. “My daddy said someone had been shot and that no one should get killed; that we should have peace.”“It was a feeling of death,” said the boy’s father, Elio Mu√±oz. He urged families to provide good instruction to their children because, “from our homes will come the future dignitaries, professionals and priests in this country,” he said. “We have to educate our children in love and mercy,” he told participants.The walk ended with anointing of hands as a symbol of healing.For more information about the Peace Walks, call Dolores Mission Parish, (323)881-0039.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0622/peacewalk/{/gallery}