Pray for Peace Walk to pass through R.I.

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PROVIDENCE — Some might say that our world has a long ways to go before it reaches peace. For Al Forte, that sense of a long journey will take on a literal meaning this summer.

Between June and August, Forte, of Norwalk, Connecticut, will lead a Prayer for Peace Walk from New York City to Boston.

“I’m a simple man, have little money, and [am] not well known, this is the best I can do,” Forte told the Rhode Island Catholic.

Forte started the works a decade ago. Now he is 75, a father of three and grandfather of nine. But after logging in 4,000 miles of prayer-for-peace walks he is showing no signs of letting up. On June 30, Forte will embark on a more than 200-mile journey to Boston that is expected to stretch over the whole month of July, with an arrival date of August 4 in Boston.

Although he is the only person who will be doing the entirety of the distance he will be joined by others along the way. Starting out he will be accompanied by 100 fellow walkers. An estimated 70 to 80 participants are based in New York, with an additional 20 to 30 from Forte’s home state of Connecticut. So far, there are no estimates for how many people from Rhode Island or Massachusetts might also be joining the walk.

Forte, who is active in his local parish in Stamford, says the walks are an effective way to spread the word about the importance of praying for peace. “The Pray-For-Peace Walk tells others I pray and believe in prayer. Thousands of miles walked wearing a large Pray-for-Peace shirt,” Forte said. “If one person says one extra prayer because of our T-shirts, that person is getting closer to God and that’s a miracle.”

For Forte, what’s important about the event is the person-to-person connection between people, starting with neighborhoods and working up from there. “We are few in number. We believe if we all prayed for peace, there will be peace. Peace in ourselves and our families,” Forte said. Peace in our neighborhoods and cities... peace in our country and in our world.”

This will be the fourth year that Forte has done the New York City-to-Boston route.

The walk will set off on June 30 against the backdrop of Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Then, they will go to a Yankees-Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium. Forte compares major league baseball stadiums to cathedrals. Given the thousands who watch—and the many more who watch on television — he says it’s a perfect opportunity for walkers to get their message out.

In Rhode Island the walk will be taking the following route: Leg 7 - 7/25 to 7/29, from Stonington to Warwick; Leg 8 - 7/30 to 8/3, from Warwick to Boston Logan Airport.

Generally, while in Rhode Island, Forte will follow Route 1 from Westerly through South Kingston, and up through Narragansett, where he will switch to Route 1A to be closer to the coast. After Narragansett, the walk will return to Route 1, heading up to North Kingston and Warwick. From there he will go to Providence and turn inland in Pawtucket before crossing over into Massachusetts.

So far, Forte has not scheduled any official stops or determined at which local parishes he will be attending Sunday Mass. He is looking for a volunteer to drive him from where he ends his walk each day to the motel where he will be spending the night. (Forte can be reached through his website, www.2018walk.org, where there is also a detailed map of his route.)

Forte’s first walk was over a longer distance — from New York to Chicago. In a previous interview, he told the Rhode Island Catholic it was a chance to forge a bond with people across the country.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “I realized what a beautiful country we have. The scenery was spectacular and the people were absolutely terrific. Even the truck drivers were great. I had ‘Pray for Peace’ written on my T-shirt and they would honk for me. That was very uplifting.”

For more information, visit www.2018walk.org.