JRS/USA: Blessed Are the Refugees, for They Are the Presence of God

20 September 2018

Father Leo J. O'Donovan, SJ, JRS/USA's Director of Mission, shares a prayer for refugees around the world

Blessed Are the Refugees, for They Are the Presence of God


O dear God, are you holding your head in your hands,

helpless before the horror of all the refugees and displaced people in your world today?

The long line of refugees crossing hillcrest after hillcrest, hoping for a home.

The overcrowded and often foundering boats of families fleeing across the seas.

The children running through the night to escape the brutalities

of Central America’s Northern Triangle, all the while prey to coyotes and cartels.

Good God, it is the equivalent of the whole population of Great Britain.

We have seen nothing like it since World War II.

Have you?

What is your answer?

Good God, give us an answer.

Forgive the anger in our voices.

Yes, forgive us.

But it is there.

Still more, though: our plea for help for these millions and millions

of your own children, the brothers and sisters of your Word to us,

our own, “our own refugees,”

surely as dear to you as any of us in the comfort of the north.

But you are silent.

So perhaps we are the ones not truly paying attention.

Might that be?

Perhaps you do not have an answer but a presence nevertheless.

Perhaps Pope Francis has given us the clue when he said in Bangladesh,

“The presence of God today is also called Rohingya.”

Perhaps your presence is also called Maria, and Adan and Williams, Sofia and Gabriela, Camila and Elena, Nathan, Victor and Jorge, Juan.

Show us where you are among us, O merciful God.

Let us see truly the homeless who hope in you and in your Word to us.

Let us see the Lord you have given us to bring us together,

to help us be one, a human family, the community of Christ in the Spirit.

Forgive us if we are angry now at ourselves.

Ease our hearts as you open our eyes to see you in our refugees.

Surely then we will know what to do.


Written By: Fr. Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J.


 This prayer is written by Fr. Leo O’Donovan as a part of the publication “Blessed are the Refugees” a book of stories and reflections from children forced to flee from Central America on co-authored  by Scott Rose and the Staff and Volunteers of Catholic Charities’ Esperanza Center.


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