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'This scandal of history must be exorcised'

Haitian priest addresses racism at Night of Prayer with young adults

CORAL GABLES | Young adults from St. Augustine Church's young adult ministry brought their candles to the altar and knelt before the exposed Blessed Sacrament while reflecting on the sin of racism.

“It’s important that we do some soul-searching,” Father Reginald Jean-Mary told them the evening of June 9, 2020.

Notre Dame d’Haiti's administrator delivered an impassioned speech on racism during A Night of Prayer for the end of racism and for peace. He asked everyone to pray for their souls and for their country following protests after the death of George Floyd, an African American killed at the hands of police.

Father Jean-Mary urged the audience to look deep inside themselves. (Hear his complete talk by clicking on the video below.)

Young adults pray before the Blessed Sacrament during a Night of Prayer for the end of racism and for peace at St. Augustine Church in Coral Gables, June 9, 2020.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Young adults pray before the Blessed Sacrament during a Night of Prayer for the end of racism and for peace at St. Augustine Church in Coral Gables, June 9, 2020.

“What kind of attitude do we have toward people who are different from us?” he said. “Racism is an ancestral sin. We shouldn’t be afraid of confronting racism in a healthy, non-violent way. Racism denies the very source of humanity. It denies the image of God in every person. It robs people of their dignity. It’s a flagrant injustice.”

In the 21st century, silence against racism is complicity, he said.

“Many people continue to die,” he said. “We are afraid of addressing the elephant in the room. I have experienced racism. It tends to buy our silence.”

Racism can change through education, he said. We must get to its roots.

“We must commit to fight the social structure that supports racism, a social structure that not only sustains it but promotes it,” Father Jean-Mary said, adding that we are all children of God, brothers and sisters.

“If I need a transfusion, the doctor doesn’t ask if I want blood from a white, black, or yellow person,” he said. “The blood in our veins is all the same color.”

Father Jean-Mary applauded Father Richard Vigoa, St. Augustine Church's administrator, for his decision to host the Night of Prayer.

“This scandal of history must be exorcised,” he said. “In such a mosaic of culture, we must have an open heart.”

During the service, Sarah Seski and Debbie Gedeon read “A Litany of Forgiveness and Healing,” a prayer for sins committed by clergy against their flock.

Young adult Mareesa Nosalik said that she was glad people are uniting for change in society.

“People are realizing that silence must change,” she said. “It’s sad that it took something so tragic. I’m glad we’re uniting to change. Our silence is giving up our prophetic voice bestowed on us in baptism.”

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