On April 17, 2021, Catholic Charities of Oregon and Zomi Catholic Community Portland (ZCCP) hosted a multi-faith prayer service for the Zomi community. Leaders from the Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, and other Christian denominations joined the Zomi community in Oregon and other refugee communities, as well as Catholic Charities of Oregon, state senators and local representatives for the prayer service.
The Zomi community has suffered increased violence and oppression since the military junta in Myanmar staged a coup d’etat on February 1, 2021. Tragically, children and youth have been disproportionately attacked and killed. At the multi-faith prayer service, we prayed for an end to the political unrest occurring daily in Myanmar, the country from which most of Oregon’s Zomi community have immigrated.
Here are the remarks, as prepared by Catholic Charities Executive Director, Deacon Rick Birkel, Ph.D., delivered at the multi-faith prayer service:
“I want to add my welcome to Francis’ [Kham] and thank him and the ZCCP for bringing us all together today.
I would like to thank Father Ted Prentice and the St. Joseph the Worker community for hosting this prayer service.
I want to thank all of today’s speakers, community leaders, elected officials, and faith leaders for their presence and solidarity in lifting up the people of Myanmar in prayer.
We believe that when people of different religions and ethnic groups and faith traditions come together in prayer and reflection – we are taking a small step towards the goal of peace and recognizing ourselves as one human family.
Today, we want to send a healing message of Love to the people of Myanmar—our brothers and sisters—wherever they are—in their home country, in refugee camps, in exile or in prison, or here in Oregon—YOU are in our prayers, YOU are loved, and we stand with you in solidarity as we eagerly await a season of peace.
So, my sincere thanks to all of you gathered here today.”