Ignatian Social Justice: Refugee Prayer Service

Nov 16, 2022

On a chilly November evening, around 40 people braved the weather to attend the Refugee Prayer Service in the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. This prayer service was a collaborative effort by Ignatian Social Justice, St. Vincent de Paul, and Interfaith Ministries to ask neighboring clergy, faith leaders, and community leaders to come together in story and prayer.

The pastor, Rev. Dennis Yesalonia, S.J., welcomed all to the church for an evening of prayer and reflection. Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate for Ignatian Social Justice, offered opening remarks and a prayer by Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

Melina Gonzalez, Community Engagement Manager/Immigration Services, Little Sisters of the Assumption, East Harlem, began with her own story as an immigrant from Mexico. Melina’s story and prayer in her native tongue of Spanish were heartwarming and inspirational. Meditative music inspired and improvised from each speaker’s talk was played on piano by Bobby Reuter, Associate Director of Music and Technical & Logistics Coordinator at St. Ignatius Loyola.

Then, Kaji Dousa, Senior Pastor from Park Avenue Christian Church, gave a spirited and engaging theological reflection and prayer in a Baptist tradition. Venerable Chang-Hwa Shih, and a Buddhist sister from the Chan Meditation Center in Queens, performed a beautiful chanting prayer. Emre Celik, Executive Director of Peace Islands Institute, gave a reflection from the viewpoint of his religion, Islam. Our final speaker was Fr. Julian Jagudilla, OFM, St. Francis of Assisi, Director of Migrant Center, who offered his reflection through the lens of St. Francis of Assisi.

The speakers’ stories and prayers, along with the meditative music, transcended throughout this sacred space. And as Rev. Mark Hallinan, S.J., closed the eveningwith a prayer, we were left with a peaceful and hopeful outcome.

— Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate