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A prayer for racial justice

On Tuesday, June 2, the Stuart community came together in prayer with a service led by Msgr. Greg Malovetz. Below are his words. 

Mary McLeod Bethune wrote, "if we have the courage and tenacity of our forbearers, who stood firmly like a rock against the lash of slavery, we shall find a way to do for our day what they did for theirs." 

Bethune was a civil rights activist, educator and author. She is known as the “First Lady of the Struggle." She died in 1955 just as pivotal moments of the Civil Rights Movement—the struggle for equality—were beginning. Bethune fought the pandemic of racism; today she would weep to see its continued deadly presence. 

I believe that her tears would be matched with the firm conviction of her words over 65 years ago: we must look to the faith, courage, boldness and tenacity of the ones who came before, and together find the way to end the original sin of this country, racism. 

Mary Bethune, Septima Clark, Dorothy Height, Coretta Scott King—these mothers of the struggle look down on us now—on the daughters of Mother Stuart—and say do not give up the fight, find courage in faith and stand with each other, and with those in the struggle. 

As a white man, as a priest of a Church with its own history of racism, I weep in seeing how the privilege of many has inflicted pain, suffering and death upon the many more who have not known that privilege. As I rise now to lead us in prayer, I think of Jesus. I think of Jesus who saw the dignity of every human person. I think of Jesus who stood firmly like a rock against the lash of injustice and cruelty. At this hour we are called to see and stand as he did. 

I think of Jesus falling under the weight of his cross, could have cried, “I can't breathe." 

The Civil Rights Movement has always been motivated and strengthened by faith. Jews and Catholics, Protestants and Muslims, people of other religious traditions and of none have stood together to call out racism and work for real change. They have called upon God. Today we do what our forbearers have always done: we pray. 

We pray for George Floyd, may he live forever in the House of the Lord. And for his family in their unbearable grief; that they will know the spiritual closeness of our nation to them. 

And in our prayer, 

• We ask for the grace to name our fear, our sorrow and our anger. 
• We ask that the grace of compassion would change the hearts of the indifferent and strengthen hearts weary in the struggle. 
• We ask for the grace of courage to use our voices to legislate and vote, to challenge corruption and peacefully protest. 
• We ask for the grace not to despair, but have the conviction to do for our day, what all our forbearers did for theirs. 
• We ask for the grace to be who we say we are: children of God. 

Although we are distanced from one another, at this hour, the Stuart community is united in our sorrow and anger, but even more in our resolve. May we lead—like women and like men committed to the work of God, which is the work of justice, peace and love. And wherever you are the people answer AMEN. 


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