Rockford pastor holds miles-long marches to promote peace

Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 5:49 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A local pastor who holds annual anti-violence marches is upping his game after a shooting at a carnival over the weekend left a man wounded.

Francisco Onofre, pastor of Love Revival Church in Rockford, has been holding annual marches to promote peace and the Gospel since 2021. His marches are unlike others held locally because they span a total of 12 to 15 miles.

“The hope that I believe is that I can share the message to change those hearts,” Onofre said.

Those hearts, he says, belong to those who believe differences can be solved with bullets, those who need to hear a simple message.

“Stop the shootings, stop the drugs—all this stuff—so they can stop and bring light to the city of Rockford,” he said.

Onofre held an 80-person march last month that covered parts of South Main Street, East State Street, Kishwaukee and 11th Street. When he learned that a man was shot outside the Rockford Towne Fair Saturday, it was clear he was being called to have another one in September.

“I love this city,” he said. “It’s in my heart.”

So is the safety of his family, like his 14-year-old son, Victor, who saw the victim Saturday’s shooting fall to the ground and the crowd scatter.

“It’s very scary to just go out one day, and somebody gets shot in front of you or almost near you,” Victor Onofre said. “That’s a crazy experience.”

Onofre says he hopes his next march will be from the west side of Rockford to the east side. He’s sill planning the logistics, and says he will announce details in coming weeks.

Five people have been arrested in connection with Saturday’s shooting. Police say the victim is expected to survive and that the attack was targeted.