A Prayer for Racial Justice

Read this Catholic prayer against racism.

In the face of such a sweeping and complex issue such as systemic racism, it doesn’t take much to feel overwhelmed. It feels like such an urgent and important reality to change, but what can we actually do besides lend our solidarity by protesting together? 

There are a number of ways to examine ourselves and our culture and to stand up to offer our voice for those on the margins. But even those actions can seem fleeting and insubstantial.

One important truth to remember is that, whatever your race, the work of dismantling racism happens just as much inside of us as it does outside of us. It requires motivations that are pure and true and that intend the good of others in love. In that regard, prayer is a powerful tool because it puts this action in the context of God’s work to renew the world. Trusting in God gives us persistence and strength, and it also keeps us humble and honest with ourselves. 

This prayer for racial justice was written by Jo Cecilio, rector of a women’s hall at the University of Notre Dame. She shared it with more than 1,000 people at a campus prayer service and march on June 1, 2020. It moved many there — perhaps you’ll find it a valuable resource in our common struggle for racial justice. 

God of mercy and compassion, 

We come before you today in grief, in anger, in mourning over the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Sandra Bland, George Floyd and the litany of names of men and women who have died at the hands of those charged to protect and serve. You know each one of them by name, and we know that each were wonderfully created in your own image and likeness. Their lives matter to you and to us, and so we ask you, God, to etch their memories forever on our hearts.

Lord, we are tired of the senseless acts of violence, the injustices, the oppression, the racism, and the ignored laments of black and brown communities. Hear us, Lord. Open the hearts, minds, and ears of all your children to hear and understand the cries of pain, of sadness, of trauma, and of immense loss.

Your Son, Jesus came to us that we “may have life, and have it abundantly.” May each of us be committed to sharing life and love in our world. May we speak truth to power. May we allow the Spirit to lead us to act for justice. Lord, we invite you to use us so that we might bring about a transformation in our world; a transformation that makes a beloved community real here on this earth.  


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