A Prayer for World Refugee Day

29 May 2019|Fr. Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J.

Young girl prayer with hands in front of her face.

Gracious God, help us with St. Ignatius to imagine you looking over the wide world you have created and seeing the plight of your children, the sisters and brothers of Jesus, who have been driven from their countries or forcibly displaced within them.   We are stunned by the number of “our refugees,” greater than ever since World War II.  But you know them each by name–in Iraq and Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, Afghanistan and Myanmar, in country after country in Africa, and now with new desperation in Venezuela and Colombia.

What has become of your world, loving God?  How can it be so cruel to so many of the men and women created in your own image and likeness? What hope is there for them?  In fact, what is happening to them assaults our own hope.

Yes, there are stirring stories of their strength and resilience, their love of their children and the determination to see them in school, the fact that they can still dance and sing.  Anyone who has visited them comes away with a bruised heart but one that also somehow beats stronger. How can this be?

Is it because you despite everything are truly with them, accompanying them as a saving presence even if unseen by human eyes?  That is what your prophets have told us. It is also at the center of the preaching of Jesus.  Help us, Holy Mystery of our lives, to see you looking down in mercy on your poor and homeless.  And then help us to see what our own presence to “our refugees” could be like.  Help us, in all our frailty, to embody in some real ways your own presence.  Their need is a sacrament for us.

Lord, help us, with the blind man of the Gospel, to see.


Fr. Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J.


This prayer is part of JRS/USA’s World Refugee Day Campaign – With My Own Two Hands to celebrate the strength, resilience, and talent of refugees and what they can do and contribute their own two hands. We’ll be sharing stories of refugees who have rebuilt their lives and contributed to their new homes. We’ll also be offering you opportunities to learn more how you can use your own two hands to help refugees not just to survive, but thrive. If you’re in Washington, DC, join us for World Refugee Day!