On June 11, 2020, the workplace communities at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers and Saint Vincent’s Hospital Westchester in Harrison, gathered to pray a lunchtime vigil, Here for You in Unity about Racism. The frontline staff encouraged the administration to, in some way, take action on the issue of racism. The result was a respectful and sobering moment of prayer to remember George Floyd and all who have died in the tragic events leading up to that moment in Minneapolis that seemed to awaken the world.

The prayer service included participants reading sections of the prayer to more than 200 who came together on each campus; at noon in Yonkers and at 1 pm in Harrison. It was a moment to process all we have endured these past few months and focus on the experience of inequality we have encountered for centuries.

In Yonkers, New York State Senator and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins spoke to those gathered in front of the Saint Joseph’s Medical Center Emergency Room. The Senator expressed her sincere gratitude to those workers who, for weeks, cared for coronavirus patients every minute of every day, while the rest of us stayed in our homes.

Senator Stewart-Cousins spoke about the coronavirus pandemic and the hope we all hold for an effective vaccine. She then spoke about a “second pandemic” in our midst: racism in our world. The words she spoke of this devastating second pandemic have stayed with me and will remain with me. Looking at the diverse crowd that stood before her, she said, “For this second pandemic, WE are the vaccine!”

I hope that you will pray the vigil prayer below in your homes and local communities. 

–Sister Karen Helfenstein, SC

Download prayer service Here for You in Unity about Racism