Interfaith Prayers for Immigrant Justice

This morning I attended the Immigrant Justice prayer vigil of which I’ve written several times before. It’s been taking place every Friday morning at 7:00 am at a local immigrant detention center to show solidarity with undocumented immigrants as they are in the process of being deported – and to protest the national shame that is our nation’s current immigration policy.

This vigil previously took place at the Broadview detention facility just west of Chicago, but for the past several months undocumented immigrants have been held and processed at the Federal Building on 101 W. Congress Parkway. If you live in or around Chicago, I encourage you to join us.

Though the vigil was originally established by Catholic activists and featured the recitation of the rosary, it has long included attendees of many faiths. Just recently the first Friday of every month has been formally designated to be an interfaith ceremony. Today’s service included Christian, Muslim and Jewish participants – truly an inspiring show of prayerful solidarity.

Some years ago, I wrote and delivered a prayer specifically for this vigil.  JRC member Gonzalo Escobar recently translated it into Spanish and this morning we read a bilingual version of it together. I’ve included it below, along with other powerful prayers that were recited during our ceremony.

Again, if you live in the area, please join us on Friday mornings at 101 W. Congress and help us raise a prayerful voice all the way to Washington…

Prayer for a Vigil at a Detention Center (translated by Gonzalo Escobar):

Espíritu de Todo lo que Vive:

Ayúdanos. Ayúdanos a defender los valores que son tan importantes para lo que somos: seres humanos creados a imagen de Dios. Ayúdanos a encontrar la compasión en nuestros corazones y la justicia en nuestros actos para todos los que buscan la libertad y una mejor vida. Pueda que encontremos la fuerza para proteger y defender la causa del forastero (extranjero) entre nosotros, para asegurar un trato justo para todos los que habitan en nuestra tierra.

Guíanos. Guíanos hacia una ley. Una justicia. Una de las normas de comportamiento humano para con todos. Aléjanos de la ambigüedad que hace honor a la imagen divina en algunos, pero no en otros. Deja que nosotros siempre testifiquemos que la justicia que pretendemos apreciar no es más que una farsa si no defendemos la dignidad humana básica para todos los que moran entre nosotros.

Perdónanos. Perdónanos por la forma inhumana en que con demasiada frecuencia tratamos a los demás. Sabemos, o deberíamos saber, que cuando se trata de crímenes contra la humanidad, algunos de nosotros podríamos ser culpables, pero todos somos responsables. Concédenos el perdón de los delitos de exclusión que siempre cometemos contra los miembros más vulnerables de la sociedad: los no deseados, los desamparados, los no asegurados, los indocumentados.

Danos fuerza. Danos fuerza para encontrar los medios para hacer brillar tu luz en los lugares oscuros de nuestro mundo. Danos la capacidad de descubrir a los que están ocultos a la vista, encerrados y olvidados. No olvidemos jamás que no hay nada oculto y nadie se ha perdido delante de ti. Fortalécenos con el conocimiento de que no hay ni una sola alma humana que sea desechable o reemplazable, que no podemos nunca, por mucho que tratemos, quitarle la humanidad a nadie.

Recuérdanos. Recuérdanos nuestro deber de crear una sociedad justa, aquí y ahora, en nuestros días. Danos la visión del propósito de evitar la complacencia de lo cómodo – y la determinación de saber que no podemos postergar la causa de la justicia y la libertad por un día más. Recuérdanos que ahora es tiempo y el momento de crear tu reino en la tierra.

Que sea tu voluntad. Y para sea que la nuestra.

Y digamos,  Amén.


We pray for those women and men being deported today form all detention centers in the country, especially the ones leaving today from 101 W. Congress.

We pray for families who have experienced the devastation of raids and deportations

For the children who have lost parents;

For the husbands and wives who were left alone to take care of their families;

For all undocumented people who experience fear and live in a state of uncertainty.

We pray that all those connected with the Department of Homeland Security treat our immigrant brothers and sisters with respect. We pray for ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the staff of all detention centers in our country.

We pray for leaders in our country and leaders of all faiths that we may work together with a common wisdom to stop deportations and work toward compassionate immigration policies.

We pray that your spirit of goodness and love be a more powerful witness than the spirit of fear, hatred, and discrimination expressed in anti-immigrant legislation in the country.

A Paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer, modeled after one by Guatemalan theologian Julia Esquivel:

Our Father

Father also for the immigrants, the homeless and all the poor

Hallowed be Your Name

Hallowed more than any hero, idol or saint on earth

Your kingdom come

A Kingdom of justice, peace and equality, without borders, visas or deportees

Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven

When all this will be tolerant of each other and all would welcome the strangers

Give us this day our daily bread

A bread of kindness and mercy, a bread of friendship, humility and generous spirit

And forgive us us our debts as we forgive our debtors

When no longer we would think of ourselves and allow others to be the first in line

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

Help us to remain strong in our convictions, help us to clean our minds of evil thoughts

All: For Yours is the kingdom and the glory and the power forever, Amen.

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