Prayers for Racial Justice and Reconciliation


Finding True Racial Reconciliation

Introduction: The impact of COVID-19 and the events of the last 2 ½ months have not allowed me much time for reflection.  But the murder of George Floyd and the events of the last two 2 ½ weeks left me no choice.

I could not comprehend how a crime this heinous, committed by an officer of the law, can happen in modern day America, and yet I knew it has been happening in one way or another for 400 years.  I was so angry, and at the same time felt somewhat helpless, knowing that I could never understand the pain that all people of color, but particularly African-Americans feel right now, and wondering what I could do to stop these crimes that have become all too familiar.

I am not Derek Chauvin.  No one I know is Derek Chauvin.  No one I know would deliberately attack someone - physically, verbally, emotionally – due to the color of his or her skin.   Neither I nor anyone I know would discriminate against or attack someone because of the color or their skin.  Neither I nor the people that I know would never do this, or would never allow this to happen.  Or would we?  Or do we?

And then I got to thinking further – yes, I know I’m not Derek Chauvin, but am I like the two officers who restrained Mr. Floyd or the third officer, who stood by and did nothing while Mr. Floyd was murdered.

What have I done by my action or inaction?  I didn’t have my knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, but what else could I have done?  How often have I taken for granted my own comfort and privilege when I should have been trying to change a system, a culture, that allows these and other crimes – both overt and covert - against people of color to continue?  

The death of George Floyd has awoken the nation, but it has also made me more aware of my responsibility as a white person of privilege to understand and change the systems and the attitudes that allows both the overt and the covert crimes to continue:  police brutality; lynching; judicial inequity; mass incarceration; redlining; health care disparities, educational disparities; voting restrictions, and on and on.

I don’t have the answers, and I don’t yet know what I will do today or tomorrow to be the change I want to see. I know I’ll need strength to step outside my comfort zone and walk with my brothers and sisters on this journey.  I don’t yet know how I will do it, but I know I must try.

Father, Bless us as we strive to find our way to true racial reconciliation. 
Open our eyes to all that goes on around us that contribute to racial injustice.  
Grant us the knowledge to understand all that we do, both personally and as a society, which prevents as from recognizing and defending the dignity of all or our brothers and sisters, and especially at this time, our brothers and sisters of color who are now feeling so much pain. 
Grant us the grace to reflect on our own actions and inactions that contribute to this pain. 
And grant us the strength to take action to alleviate this pain and to end racial injustice in all its forms.

In your name we pray.

Written and offered by Phil Chick


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A Prayer for my White Colleagues in Education

Lord, help me wallow in my discomfort,
Stew in my unease,
Sit with my disquiet.
As we journey through this
Racialized pandemic,
Harmful leadership,
Clear inequities,
Aid us in our focus.
How are we people for and with others?
Help us open our eyes
As we look at our own faculty, our staff, our boards, our students.
What do they look like?
What voices are absent?
Help us acknowledge our history:
What have we done to exclude, persecute, and silence?
How have we been complicit?
Forgive us for not being there, for not doing enough.
How can we invite, empower, and lift up these voices?
We need to do better.
We need to move now.
Who can we invite to our tables?
Help us go to the margins,
Especially those at our own institutions.
Let us
Stand with the lonely,
The sick, the persecuted, those who have been violated.
Let us sit with them,
In our own unease.
Help us listen to these voices.
Help us reflect.
Help us prayerfully act.
Help us rise,
Not to erase our discomfort
But to be fully present,
Seeking solidarity,
Seeking repentance.
Lord, help us wallow in our discomfort,
Let us lean in.
      - Sarah Signorino, Canisius College


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Shake Us From Our Slumber

When our eyes do not see the gravity of racial justice,
Shake us from our slumber and open our eyes, O Lord.

When out of fear we are frozen into inaction,
Give us a spirit of bravery, O Lord.

When we try our best but say the wrong things,
Give us a spirit of humility, O Lord.

When the chaos of this dies down,
Give us a lasting spirit of solidarity, O Lord.

When it becomes easier to point fingers outwards,
Help us to examine our own hearts, O Lord.

God of truth, in your wisdom, Enlighten Us.
God of hope in your kindness, Heal Us.
Creator of All People, in your generosity, Guide Us.

Racism breaks your heart,
break our hearts for what breaks yours, O Lord.
Ever present God, you called us to be in relationship with one another and promised to dwell wherever two or three are gathered. In our community, we are many different people; we come from many different places, have many different cultures. Open our hearts that we may be bold in finding the riches of inclusion and the treasures of diversity among us. We pray in faith.
      - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


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A Litany for Those not Ready for Healing

Let us not rush to the language of healing, before understanding the fullness of the injury and the depth of the wound.

Let us not rush to offer a band­aid, when the gaping wound requires surgery and complete reconstruction.

Let us not offer false equivalencies, thereby diminishing the particular pain being felt in a particular circumstance in a particular historical moment.

Let us not speak of reconciliation without speaking of reparations and restoration, or how we can repair the breach and how we can restore the loss.

Let us not rush past the loss of this mother’s child, this father’s child…someone’s beloved son.

Let us not value property over people; let us not protect material objects while human lives hang in the balance.

Let us not value a false peace over a righteous justice.

Let us not be afraid to sit with the ugliness, the messiness, and the pain that is life
in community together.

Let us not offer clichés to the grieving, those whose hearts are being torn asunder.


Let us mourn black and brown men and women, those killed extrajudicially every 28 hours.

Let us lament the loss of a teenager, dead at the hands of a police officer who described
him as a demon.

Let us weep at a criminal justice system, which is neither blind nor just.

Let us call for the mourning men and the wailing women, those willing to rend their garments of privilege and ease, and sit in the ashes of this nation’s original sin.

Let us be silent when we don’t know what to say.

Let us be humble and listen to the pain, rage, and grief pouring from the lips of our neighbors and friends.

Let us decrease, so that our brothers and sisters who live on the underside of history may increase.

Let us pray with our eyes open and our feet firmly planted on the ground

Let us listen to the shattering glass and let us smell the purifying fires, for it is the language of the unheard.

God, in your mercy…
Show me my own complicity in injustice.
Convict me for my indifference.
Forgive me when I have remained silent.
Equip me with a zeal for righteousness.
Never let me grow accustomed or acclimated to unrighteousness.
     - Dr Yolanda Pierce


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Uproot Racism

Good and gracious God, you invite us to recognize and reverence your divine image and likeness in our neighbor.  Enable us to see the reality of racism and free us to challenge and uproot it from our society, our world and ourselves.

This we pray.

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas


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To End Racism

O Lord our God, in your mercy and kindness, no thought of ours is left unnoticed, no desire or concern ignored. You have proven that blessings abound when we fall on our knees in prayer, and so we turn to you in our hour of need.

Surrounded by violence and cries for justice, we hear your voice telling us what is required, “Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mi 6:8). Fill us with your mercy so that we, in turn, may be merciful to others.

Strip away pride, suspicion, and racism so that we may seek peace and justice in our communities. Strengthen our hearts so that they beat only to the rhythm of your holy will. Flood our path with your light as we walk humbly toward a future filled with encounter and unity.

Be with us, O Lord, in our efforts, for only by the prompting of your grace can we progress toward virtue. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


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Manifestations of Your Light

Good and gracious God,
Who loves and delights in all people,
we stand in awe before You,
knowing that the spark of life within each person on earth is the spark of your divine life.

Differences among cultures and races are multicolored manifestations of Your Light.

May our hearts and minds be open to celebrate similarities and differences among our sisters and brothers.

We place our hopes for racial harmony in our committed action and in Your Presence in our Neighbor.

May all peoples live in Peace.

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas


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Dismantling Racism in My Family of God

Dear God,

In the effort to dismantle racism, I understand that I struggle not merely against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities – those institutions and systems that keep racism alive by perpetuating the lie that some members of our family are inferior and others superior.

Create in me a new mind and heart that will enable me to see brothers and sisters in the faces of those divided by racial categories.

Give me the grace and strength to rid myself of racial stereotypes that oppress some in my family while providing entitlements to others.

Help me to create a nation that embraces the hopes and fears of oppressed people of color where we live, as well as those around the world.

Help me to heal your family making me one with you and empowered by your Holy Spirit.

    Adapted by Debra Mooney, PhD from Pax Christi


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An Examine for Racial Justice:

  • Have I fully loved God and fully loved my neighbor as myself?
  • Have I caused pain to others by my actions or my words that offended my brother or my sister?
  • Have I done enough to inform myself about the sin of racism, its roots, and its historical and contemporary manifestations?  Have I opened my heart to see how unequal access to economic opportunity, jobs, housing, and education on the basis of skin color, race, or ethnicity, has denied and continues to deny the equal dignity of others?
  • Is there a root of racism within me that blurs my vision of who my neighbor is?
  • Have I ever witnessed an occasion when someone “fell victim” to personal, institutional, systematic or social racism and I did or said nothing, leaving the victim to address their pain alone?
  • Have I ever witnessed an occasion when someone “fell victim” to personal, institutional, systematic or social racism with me inflicting the pain, acting opposite of love of God and love of neighbor?
  • Have I ever lifted up and aided a person who “fell victim” to personal, institutional, systematic or social racism and paid a price for extending mercy to the other? How did I react? Did my faith grow? Am I willing to grow even more in faith through my actions?

by To Go Forth – a blog from the USCCB, Department of Justice, Peace & Human Development - inspired by Pope Francis.


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Jericho Road

Introduction: A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. We are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's road side, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. Compassion sees that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.

Let us pray:
Ever present God, you called us to be in relationship with one another and promised to dwell wherever two or three are gathered. In our community, we are many different people; we come from many different places, have many different cultures. Open our hearts that we may be bold in finding the riches of inclusion and the treasures of diversity among us. We pray in faith.

        - Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.


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