A Prayer for Unity

(gentle piano music) – Good afternoon We are virtually gathered here today to honor the memory of Ahmaud Arbery George Floyd and Breonna Taylor And so many others who have been needlessly killed because of the racism that’s embedded in the very fabric of this country Since the death of the 46 year old George Floyd on May 25th, while in the custody of police officers, there have been outraged discussed in sorrow from all corners of the country Every time there is another senseless black death, there’s a lot of talk but nothing seems to change Peaceful protests and demonstrations have turned to looting and violence in major cities around the country Some believe it’s the only way to get attention as years of talk and peaceful protest have not led to change We received messages of discontent and disappointment from some of our own black students And understandably so, while we have a zero tolerance policy for racism written and verbal expressions of prejudice, bullying, and violence Some of our students alumni are calling us out on our enforcement of this zero tolerance It is safe to say that no university, no organization is perfect And we have to take responsibility for how these members of our shoe community are feeling We have to do better and we will Today we pray for the souls of the victims We pray for their families and friends and we pray for all the citizens of this country We pray for those members of the law enforcement community who have served honorably as first responders We will pray for an end to racism and hatred We will pray that we can shine a bright light into the dark corners where fear and hatred hide I am reminded of the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who said, “I will not tire of declaring “that if we really want an effective end to violence, “we must remove violence “that lies at the root of all violence, “structural violence, social injustice, “exclusion of citizens “from the management of country, repression “All of this is what constitutes the primal cause “from which the rest flows naturally.” We cannot be silent witnesses any longer It’s time to act peacefully and passionately Thank you (gentle piano music) ♪ For every one born a place at the table ♪ ♪ For everyone born clean water and bread ♪ ♪ A shelter a space ♪ ♪ A safe place for growing ♪ ♪ For everyone born a star overhead ♪

♪ And God will delight ♪ ♪ When we are creators of justice and joy ♪ ♪ Yes God will delight ♪ ♪ When we are creators of justice ♪ ♪ Justice and joy ♪ ♪ For woman and a man a place at the table ♪ ♪ Revising the roles deciding the share ♪ ♪ With wisdom and grace dividing the power ♪ ♪ For woman and a man a system that’s fair ♪ ♪ And God will delight ♪ ♪ When we are creators of justice and joy ♪ ♪ Yes God will delight ♪ ♪ When we are creators of justice ♪ ♪ Justice and joy ♪ ♪ For young and for old a place at the table ♪ ♪ A voice to be heard a part in the song ♪ ♪ The hands of a child in hands that are wrinkled ♪ ♪ For young and for old the right to belong ♪ ♪ And God will delight ♪ ♪ When we are creators of justice and joy ♪ ♪ Yes God will delight ♪ ♪ When we are creators of justice ♪ ♪ justice and joy ♪ ♪ For just and unjust a place at the table ♪ ♪ Abuser abused with need to forgive ♪ ♪ In anger in hurt a mindset of mercy ♪ ♪ For just and unjust a new way to live ♪ ♪ And God will delight ♪ ♪ When we are creators of justice and joy ♪ ♪ Yes God will delight ♪ ♪ When we are creators of justice ♪ ♪ Justice and joy ♪ ♪ For everyone born a place at the table ♪ ♪ To live without fear and simply to be ♪ ♪ To work to speak out to witness and worship ♪ ♪ For everyone born the right to be free ♪ ♪ And God will delight ♪ ♪ When we are creators of justice and joy ♪ ♪ Yes God will delight ♪ ♪ When we are creators of justice ♪ ♪ Justice and joy ♪ ♪ Justice and joy ♪ ♪ Justice and joy ♪ – I’m Julie Lawrence, the Executive Director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion Thank you for inviting me to participate in today’s prayers for unity I’ve been asked to read portions of Dr. Martin Luther King’s letter from Birmingham jail dated April 16th, 1963 From the Birmingham jail where he was imprisoned as a participant in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in longhand

a response to public statement of concern and caution issued by eight white religious leaders of the South The following is an excerpt of that letter I’m in Birmingham because injustice is here Just as the eighth century prophets left their little villages and carried their thus saith the Lord far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ practically every Hamlet and city of the Greco Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and States I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly Never again, can we afford to live with the narrow provincial outside agitator, quote unquote, idea Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider You deplore the demonstrations that are presently taking place in Birmingham but I’m sorry that your statement did not express a similar concern for the conditions that brought the demonstrations into being I’m sure that each of you would want to go beyond the superficial social analyst who looks merely at effects and does not grapple with the underlying causes I would not hesitate say that it’s unfortunate that so-called demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham at this time But I would say more empathic terms that it is even more unfortunate that the white power structure of the city has left the Negro community with no alternative Thank you – A reading from the book of Isaiah But as shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse and from his roots a bud shall blossom The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him A spirit of wisdom and understanding A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and a fear of the Lord And his delight shall be the fear of the Lord Not by appearance, shall he judge nor by hearsay, shall he decide But he shall judge the poor with justice and decide fairly for the lands afflicted He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth and with the breadth of his lips, he shall slay the wicked Justice shall be the band around his waist and faithfulness of belt upon his hips Then the Wolf shall be a guest of the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat The calf and the young lion shall browse together with a little child to lead them The cow and the bear shall graze, together their young shall lie down The lion shall eat hay with the ox The baby shall play by the Viper’s den and the child lay his hand on the adders layer They shall not harm or destroy on all my Holy mountain For the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord as water covers the sea – So my friends, I come today really with a very heavy heart And I come deeply troubled And I usually never get up and talk that way ’cause you expect to hear something else from me Briefly I am deeply troubled in this moment as I am sure all of us, in this country are feeling at this particular moment As I look out at this church, it somewhat brings me to tears

because ordinarily this place would be filled with our students, with our faculty, with our staff, that is the sacred heart community We gather in great number at times such as this And I can give example after example, after example of that It’s part of the tradition of this place And so for students who might be watching and faculty and staff and whoever else, I invite you to virtually come into this space and even though you’re not here physically, know that you are in our hearts We wish that you were here physically and let’s join our hearts and our spirits together So we gather in this particular place, this place which is at the very center of the campus and I can’t help, but think of the words of Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, and also a Bishop Budde, who is the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, when they spoke about sacred spaces just yesterday And so, as I was trying to get a few thoughts together, I was thinking of what they said and what sacred spaces should be And we need to be very careful and I need to be very careful to trivialize what goes on here in this sacred space The worst thing that I could say is, I am praying for you and I am supporting you People are sick and tired of hearing that I am praying for you and I’m supporting you Hopefully I am But people are saying, we need you to do more than that So as we come here into this space, for me and I think for the entire sacred heart community, there’s something about this space that is not just brick and mortar There’s life and energy in this space for a couple of reasons One, behind me, you see the image of the risen Christ Friends troubled as we are, troubled as I am, here is our hope In the midst of all this, we wanna hold on to threads of hope it’s our hope is in Christ And it goes beyond that For those of you who are from this campus and those of you are not from this campus and are familiar with the place, if you go outside, on the side of the chapel are inscribed the words that embody the mission of this place And it is the works of mercy, corporate works of mercy, feed the hungry, visit the imprisoned, clothe the naked, visit the sick And the whole point is this that when you come into this place, just don’t say, I’m praying for you and I’m supporting you There’s a message on the brick and mortar of this chapel that tells us what we should be doing once we go out of this chapel In other words, what we’re doing right now is meaningless It’s meaningless, unless the words spill into radical action As we leave this chapel I don’t have the answer to all of the things that we should be doing However, what I do know is this, we need to be praying with our feet and I’m going to give three very concrete examples on how we might do this And they’re these, number one, the discomfort that I’m feeling and the depression, even that I’m feeling in this moment and the frustration and I suspect again, that all of you are feeling as well Please stay with those feelings Stay with them Don’t run away from those feelings Stay with them for a very long time Stay with them What are these feelings telling you? What are they calling you to do? Stay with them, reflect on them, pray with them and take these feelings that are going on inside of us and translate them into action Don’t run from those feelings Don’t sanitize them and stay with them I urge you to do that Stay with them not forever, but stay with them until they roll into action Secondly, we need leadership We need leadership right now We’re dealing with a divided country

Aren’t we? it’s very troubling to me We’re a divided country Where is the leadership gonna come from? And I wanna suggest a few things in terms of where the leadership might come from Certainly from the universities and the colleges throughout this nation We are academic communities who are entrusted with the care of the young It is a sacred trust that has been given to us And so to the colleges and universities throughout this nation, that we have an obligation to transmit the teachings of peace and justice And I assure you, as President Pattillo said, we don’t do it perfectly here in this place We really don’t because nobody does But we’re doing our very best And what I wanna suggest right now as the president and said, “Our very best is not enough.” We need now to go to next steps And I also would suggest that the business communities, not just here in Connecticut but throughout our nation, that the business communities have a great opportunity, a wonderful opportunity to really create cultures of inclusion and also to take the principles of justice and bring it into the workplace We’re counting on you leaders in the business community to do that for our nation And local communities, there’s power in people gathering as groups Gather as groups and have peaceful protests that are not just going on for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, but there’s a power in numbers So local communities, think about the ways that you might do this And finally, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, there’s reading after reading and person after person who teaches us what we need to do We heard from the prophet Isaiah in the reading, Dorothy Day, Dorothy Day, who died in the 1980s Dorothy Day said, “The problem, we’re not fighting atheism.” She says, “We’re fighting racism “and we’re fighting violence.” Dorothy Day, this woman who causes Africanization Who said, “Racism is a sin.” It’s a sin So if you wanna worry and think about what’s the sin? What’s right? What’s wrong? Racism is a sin Why? Because it fractures the human community And so finally we need vaccines We need vaccines Number one, we need a vaccine for COVID-19 I don’t mean to trivialize this, but that’s the easy one So hopefully we’ll have that within a year, even as we suffer through all of this But we also need a vaccine for racism That’s a hard one ’cause we’ve been living with this for hundreds of years We need to vaccine for violence We need vaccines We need to end this And friends, the only way I know of ending all this is for us to make sure that we pray with our feet – Good afternoon My name is Anne Wendell, and I am the Assistant Director in the Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning As a sacred heart community, our staff, faculty and students have always been involved in serving the community in which we live It is important now more than ever to be present to our local and national communities Reflecting on our nation’s current struggles, Oren Jay Sofer writes, “If all we do is reflect and tend to our emotions, “we fail to act “It’s equally important to show up “right here and now where, and when it counts.” There is no simple answer, no one thing for all of us to do But there is something for each of us to do Each of us has a role to play in the healing of our world Loving well means caring for one another and standing up for justice As members of the sacred heart community, we must do this through action Let us move beyond social media posts and hashtag activism Yes, we can engage with peers on social media, using it as a place to learn and listen,

but let us also take the time to research what we’re posting and retweeting and commit to taking action offline Let us donate resources to local organizations and initiatives supporting social justice that help community organizers in their fight against racial inequality Let us challenge our family, our friends, and ourselves about our own biases Let us acknowledge our own privileges and use our position to speak up when we see an injustice in our daily lives Let us not settle for the safety of being not racist, but being intentionally against the racism that is perpetuated in our country Let us educate ourselves about the history of communities of color in our country Read the full text of Martin Luther King Jr’s letter from Birmingham jail and understand the implications it has right now Gather friends for discussions of books, articles or documentaries focused on racial justice Education can start here at SHU by participating in next week’s heart challenges hate online panel discussion Join us in engaging dialogue with other students, faculty and staff on Wednesday evening Education can continue by connecting with our diversity and inclusion office, our Black Student Union and our Multicultural Student Council Let us recognize our university’s mission to recognize the dignity and worth of every person The more clearly we see our shared humanity, the more we’re able to act from love and compassion rather than from fear, hatred or anger – Shalom, I am a Rabbi Marcella Kormis I serve congregation Beth El here in Fairfield and I am the Jewish chaplain for Sacred Heart University According to our Jewish tradition, each human being is infinitely valuable Our sacred Torah teaches that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God Today, the sacred heart community joins together to condemn any and all forms of racism, hatred, and bigotry in our country We collectively mourn the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery Their deaths reflect a painful history and reality within our country African Americans have often been treated as less than fully human and far too many have perished at the hands of prejudice and hate The Jewish community knows all too well how silence, apathy and indifference can be as dangerous as hate Today we stand in solidarity with our African American brothers and sisters and we recommit to our obligation of Tikkun olam to work toward repairing our community our country, and our world In the name of all who have lost their lives to senseless racism and hate, we join together to create a better society based on the eternal values of compassion, empathy, hope, and the pursuit of justice We’re going to close our service today with a prayer I’d like invite you to please rise at home or from any place where you are watching us today Let us pray In this prayer, I was inspired by two of my great colleagues, Rabbi Menachem Creditor, and Rabbi Naomi levy Let us pray God, today we pray to you As our prophets taught us, human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere We rise our eyes to you, knowing that the work is ours to do, black, white, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, young, and old And so we pray to you source of life, raising up our eyes to see you in each other’s eyes To take risks for justice to bring through our unified prayer as we bring more love and compassion to this world Help us to combat the heat and prejudice in our hearts We pray for peace to flow like a mighty stream,

to fill the earth as the waters fill the sea God, When we feel tainted, remind us that we are Holy When we feel weak, teach us that we are strong When we are shattered, assure us that we can heal When we are wary, renew our spirit And when we are lost, show us that you are near Dear God, as we mourn the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, give us the strength to combat despair and fear Show us how to put our pain into perspective Teach us to have faith in the new day that is coming and send comfort and solace to the families of all who grieve as we say, aman My friends lets him go in peace Let’s go outside and let’s make this world a better world for us, for generations to come and let us pray with our feet as we make this world a better place Shalom ♪ One day when the glory comes ♪ ♪ It will be ours it will be ours ♪ ♪ Whoa one day ♪ ♪ when the war is won ♪ ♪ We will be sure we will be sure ♪ ♪ Oh glory ♪ ♪ Glory ♪ ♪ Oh glory glory ♪ ♪ Hands to the heavens no man no weapon ♪ ♪ Formed against yes glory is destined ♪ ♪ Every day women and men become legends ♪ ♪ Sins that go against our skin become blessings ♪ ♪ The movement is a rhythm to us ♪ ♪ Freedom is like religion to us ♪ ♪ Justice is just a position to us ♪ ♪ Justice for all just ain’t specific enough ♪ ♪ One son died is spirit is revisiting us ♪ ♪ Truant living living in us resistance is us ♪ ♪ That’s why Rosa sat on the bus ♪ ♪ That’s why we walked through Ferguson with our hands up ♪ ♪ When it goes down we woman and man up ♪ ♪ They say “Stay down” and we stand up ♪ ♪ Shots we on the ground the camera panned up ♪ ♪ King pointed to the mountain top and we ran up ♪ ♪ One day when the glory comes ♪ ♪ It will be ours it will be ours ♪ ♪ Whoa one day ♪ ♪ when the war is won ♪ ♪ We will be sure we will be sure ♪ ♪ Whoa glory ♪ ♪ Glory ♪ ♪ Oh glory ♪ ♪ Now the war is not over ♪ ♪ victory isn’t won ♪ ♪ but we’ll fight on to the finish ♪ ♪ And then when it’s all done ♪ ♪ We’ll cry glory ♪ ♪ Oh glory glory ♪ ♪ We’ll cry glory ♪ ♪ Oh glory glory ♪ ♪ Whoa ♪ ♪ Selma’s now for every man woman and child ♪ ♪ Even Jesus got his crown in front of a crowd ♪ ♪ They marched with the torch we gon’ run with it now ♪ ♪ Never look back we done gone hundreds of miles ♪ ♪ From dark roads he rose to become a hero ♪ ♪ Facing the league of justice his power was the people ♪ ♪ Enemy is lethal a king became regal ♪ ♪ Saw the face of Jim Crow under a bald eagle ♪ ♪ The biggest weapon is to stay peaceful ♪ ♪ We sing our music is the cuts that we bleed through ♪ ♪ Somewhere in the dream we had an epiphany ♪ ♪ Now we right the wrongs in history ♪ ♪ No one can win the war individually ♪ ♪ It takes the wisdom of the elders ♪ ♪ And young people’s energy energy ♪

♪ Welcome to the story we call victory ♪ ♪ The coming of the Lord my eyes have seen the glory ♪ ♪ One day when the glory comes ♪ ♪ It will be ours it will be ours ♪ ♪ Whoa one day ♪ ♪ when the war is won ♪ ♪ We will be sure we will be sure ♪ ♪ Whoa, glory ♪ ♪ Glory ♪ ♪ Oh glory oh glory ♪ ♪ Oh glory ♪ ♪ When the war is won ♪ ♪ When it’s all done ♪ ♪ Said and done ♪ ♪ We’ll cry glory ♪ ♪ Oh glory ♪ ♪ Oh glory ♪