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Raising prayers, voices for racial healing

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Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington recently held "A Prayer Service for Peace, Reconciliation and Racial Healing." The service was organized to offer an opportunity for the community to collectively raise their voices and express "sorrow and pain at all the racially motivated violence in our country," said Father Tim Hickey, pastor.

As a historically black parish, Father Hickey said it is very important for the church community to engage in conversations about structural racism, and to "be a support for our African-American sisters and brothers who are very much under siege in many ways."

In his homilies over the past few weeks, Father Hickey has encouraged everyone to have "at least one significant conversation about racism in America with their co-workers, family members and neighbors."

The service was primarily in response to the recent shooting deaths of African-American men Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as five police officers in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge, La.

"We felt we needed to come together just around that," Father Hickey said.

The intent was to provide a "safe space" for people to come together to express their prayers and concerns and "raise them up together to God."

Approximately 125 people attended the prayer service, some traveling from parishes in Washington. It lasted about 40 minutes, and upon its conclusion, participants were invited to stay in silent prayer. Father Hickey said more than 50 people remained in prayer "for quite some time after the official service ended."

The church has held similar services in response to other tragedies in the past, and Father Hickey said they are looking to offer future services on the topics of racial injustice and violence.

Husar can be reached at mhusar@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016