Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

al forte-webAl Forte (File photo)

STAMFORD – Al Forte wears a T-shirt with a simple message “in the biggest letters I could get to fit”: Pray for peace.

That’s the easy part of his efforts with the Pray-for-Peace Network, a Stamford-based peace organization. The tougher part is his long-distance Pray-for-Peace Walk, which this year started on Sept. 1 at the World Trade Center Memorial in Manhattan and will end Sept. 29 at the site of the Boston Marathon bombings and the Old North Church.

“The only purpose is to spread the message to pray for peace,” said Mr. Forte, 71. “Think what the world would be like if everyone prayed for peace.”

The effort isn’t all pray and no play, though. From the World Trade Center Memorial he walked to Yankee Stadium for a Yankee/Red Sox game on Sept. 2. After trekking through Connecticut and into Massachusetts, he will get to Fenway Park in Boston in time for a Yankee/Red Sox game on Sept. 28.

“Sometimes people join me and just walk along, and sometimes people ask me to pray for them. It’s surprising how many people ask me to pray for them,” Mr. Forte said.

He said he enjoys it when people walk along with him, even if it’s for a mile or two. He encourages people to plan to join in the walk.

“When people are with me, more people see it and it spreads the message of praying for peace that much more,” he said.

He estimated that he and the people who have walked with him have handed out more than 40,000 Pray-for-Peace cards.

This year’s walk is, for the most part, along Route 1, the Boston Post Road. Although adjustments may be made to the schedule, Mr. Forte expects to be in Milford on Sept. 8, East Haven on Sept. 9, and, after two days off, Guilford on Sept. 12.

He said that he expected to cover about 10 miles a day.

This is his fifth long-distance trek in the name of peace. His first was in 2008, when he was 65; he walked 950 miles from Yankee Stadium to Chicago. In 2010 and 2013, he walked from Boston to New York City. The 2013 walk was in remembrance of the Newtown school shootings and the Boston Marathon bombing.

The 2011 walk, for the 10th anniversary of 9/11, stretched from the Pentagon to Ground Zero in New York City.

Mr. Forte also has organized a Pray-for-Peace Walk across Fairfield County each of the past five years.

Although he has stirred some publicity over the years, Mr. Forte said that is not his goal. It is more about heading people toward peace, one step at a time.

“If more of us prayed for peace more often, there would be peace,” he said. “First, peace in our hearts, and then in our family, then neighborhoods, towns and cities and then the world.”

Information about his walks is available at Prayforpeacewalk.org.