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Baltimore has lost a progressive ‘legend’ | READER COMMENTARY

The late Rev. Richard Lawrence, left, celebrating Mass in Baltimore with the Rev. Charles "Father Chuck" Canterna. File.
The late Rev. Richard Lawrence, left, celebrating Mass in Baltimore with the Rev. Charles "Father Chuck" Canterna. File. (St. Vincent de Paul Church)

At the recent March for Housing, I spoke with a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Church. She informed me that Rev. Richard Lawrence was in failing health. So it was not a surprise to read his obituary in The Baltimore Sun (”Rev. Richard T. Lawrence, former St. Vincent de Paul pastor and advocate for the poor, dies,” Nov. 28).

I first met Father Lawrence in the mid-1980s as a member of the Baltimore Anti-Apartheid Coalition. As we were lobbying City Council to pass divestment legislation, Father Lawrence allowed us to keep our table and chairs and posters and other such material at his church. City Council did pass a divestment bill.

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Many years later as the Bush-Cheney administration was beating the war drums to invade Iraq over Saddam Hussein’s fictitious weapons of mass destruction in March 2003, Baltimore’s peace and justice community organized a march and a rally. Again, Dick Lawrence stepped up to the plate to support the condemnation of this horrible war. We marched from Camden Yards, made a stop at City Hall and then gathered inside St. Vincent de Paul for the rally. Taylor Branch was one of the speakers.

In my opinion, Baltimore lost a progressive legend with the passing of this pastor. Yet, there are still many fields to plow. Is there someone out there who will pick up Dick Lawrence’s torch and light up the darkness and expose the inhumanity all around us as he did?

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Max Obuszewski, Baltimore

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