Nearly 400 people gathered for a prayer service at the historic Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo to mark a National Day of Racial Healing on Tuesday, Jan. 17. The interfaith service was organized by the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable to encourage the community to work toward healing the wounds created by racial, ethnic and religious bias.
"May we each look into our conscience and awaken there, so as to recognize and repudiate whatever seeds of discrimination may lurk there, perhaps often beyond our recognition," said Bishop Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo and a member of the Roundtable. "May God forgive us for the racism of economic disparity and poverty, of superiority and of neglect. May God purify our speech so that words we speak about or to others may always reverence their dignity."
The service joined together Muslim, Jewish, and Christian people from several different denominations to focus on the need to unite the whole human family. "There is no such thing as justice for one of us," said Rabbi Jonathan Freirich, of Temple Beth Zion. "There is only justice when it is shared, when we work together, when we create something bigger than ourselves as we do this evening."
Rev. Darius Pridgen, of True Bethel Baptist Church, compared racism to a virus. "In order to heal, we must acknowledge that we've had some sickness. We can no longer cough it away. We can no longer sanitize it away. We must rid ourselves of the virus of racism. The healing may not come overnight. May we heal a little bit more each day."
Bishop Malone asked those gathered to join him in prayer: "Almighty and merciful God. You have brought us together here to express repentance and beg your mercy and grace in this time of need. Open our eyes to see any evil we have done either by deed or by omission, whether overt or subtle. Perhaps even the sin of simply not noticing. Touch our hearts, Lord, and bring us closer to you and so to one another. Where the sin of racism has divided and scattered, may your love make us one again. Where the sin of racism has brought exclusion or violence, may your power heal and strengthen. Where the sin of racism has brought suffering and death, may your spirit bring healing and new life. Lord, give us a new heart to love you and our sisters and brothers, so that our lives may reflect the image of you, our loving creator. Amen."