FAIRMONT — Fairmont Catholic Grade School students walked Thursday throughout downtown not to exercise their bodies, but their faith.

They took part in the school’s Prayer Walk, in which they stopped at several places to pray.

The school’s interim principal, Cynthia Garcia, said the students stopped at the locations “to pray and ask a blessing on the local workers and their work for the community.”

In addition to the school and St. Peter Church, the stops included Scott Place Shelter, Marion County Public Library, the Marion County Courthouse, the Veterans Memorial at Veterans Square and the Soup Opera. They also stopped across the street from the City of Fairmont police and fire stations.

“God, our Father, we pray for your servants who provide shelter, and for those who seek it,” the students prayed at Scott Place Shelter.

Across from the police and fire stations, they prayed for the “servants who protect the community as police officers and fire fighters.”

They also sang as they walked.

“We are walking in the line of Christ,” the students sang. At the head of the line, several students took turns carrying the cross.

Garcia said the Prayer Walk is an annual tradition at the school, going back to sometime before 2009.

“We’ve been doing this for quite some time,” Garcia said. “We’re a downtown school, and we really want to be good

neighbors to the downtown neighborhood and we do pray every day for all the helpers in our community, so we felt it would be a good thing for us to just go around in the community and pray in those locations and pray for those people. So, we pray for all the people who are part of this neighborhood because we’re part of this neighborhood.”

She estimated about a couple hundred people, including both students in grades pre-K through eighth grade and their parents, took part in the mile-long walk around the downtown.

“I thought it was great, it was wonderful,” Garcia said. “It’s really nice when people come together to pray.”

The school’s music teacher, Robert Ellis, said the Prayer Walk was meant to show that the school cares about the community and how important religion is.

He said the Prayer Walk helped to instill a sense of compassion in the students.

“We’re trying to get them in more leadership positions, and to show their care for God in various ways,” he said.

Ellis noted the students and their parents also volunteer at the Soup Opera once a month.

One parent who took part in the Prayer Walk, Jessica Brown of Fairmont, said “It was just nice to see the kids get together and pray for the city, the services it provides.”

She walked with her daughter, Eleanor, 5.

“She did really well,” Jessica Brown said. “She sang the songs and participated in the prayers.”

“I thought it was wonderful,” said another parent, Julia Van Volkenburg, who walked with her son, David, 5.

She liked to support the community at the various stops along the walk.

Eric Hrin can be reached at 304-367-2549, or ehrin@timeswv.com.

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