Published January 21, 2013
It began with 'Let us pray,' and it ended with 'Señor Presidente.'
The Rev. Luis Leon, who in 2005 became the first Latino to give an inaugural benediction, delivered his blessings and prayer on Monday at the 57th presidential inauguration in U.S. history.
Leon, 63, is a Cuban exile and head of the historic John's Episcopal Church in Washington D.C., known as the "Church of the Presidents." He also gave the benediction in 2005 when President George W. Bush took office, becoming the first Latino to do so.
The Episcopalian pastor spoke in front of hundreds of thousands and began with a message about unity.
"With the blessing of your blessing we will see that we are created in your image, whether brown, black or white, male or female, first generation or immigrant American, or daughter of the American Revolution, gay or straight, rich or poor," he said.
Leon ended his speech in Spanish.
"Señor presidente, señor vicepresidente, que Dios bendiga todos sus días. Todo esto lo ruego, en el más santo nombre, Amén," he said in Spanish and then translated it in English. "Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, may God bless you all your days. All this we pray, in your most Holy name, Amen."
“It’s an honor to be a part of such a milestone in American history, as all inaugurations are. And it’s a special honor because as an immigrant, this is the only country where something like this could happen to me,” Leon told The Miami Herald last week.
Leon is known as a Pedro Pan, in reference to Operation Pedro Pan in which 14,048 Cuban children were whisked away from Fidel Castro's communist movement in 1961. Leon was 11 years old when he arrived in the U.S. without his parents.
The pastor has a wife, Lu, and has two grown daughters.
Full Benediction Below
Gracious and eternal God, as we conclude the second inauguration of President Obama, we ask for your blessings as we seek to become, in the words of Martin Luther King, citizens of a beloved community, loving you and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
We pray that you will bless us with your continued presence because without it, hatred and arrogance will infect our hearts. But with your blessing we know that we can break down the walls that separate us. We pray for your blessing today because without it, distrust, prejudice and rancor will rule our hearts. But with the blessing of your presence, we know that we can renew the ties of mutual regard which can best form our civic life.
We pray for your blessing because without it suspicion, despair, and fear of those different from us will be our rule of life. But with your blessing, we can see each other created in your image, a unit of God's grace, unprecedented, irrepeatable (sic) and irreplaceable.
We pray for your blessing because without it, we will see only what the eye can see. But with the blessing of your blessing we will see that we are created in your image, whether brown, black or white, male or female, first generation or immigrant American, or daughter of the American Revolution, gay or straight, rich or poor.
We pray for your blessing because without it, we will only see scarcity in the midst of abundance. But with your blessing we will recognize the abundance of the gifts of this good land with which you have endowed this nation.
We pray for your blessing. Bless all of us, privileged to be citizens and residents of this nation, with a spirit of gratitude and humility that we may become a blessing among the nations of this world. We pray that you will shower with your life-giving spirit, the elected leaders of this land, especially Barack our president and Joe our vice president. Fill them with a love of truth and righteousness, that they may serve this nation ably and be glad to do your will. Endow their hearts with wisdom and forbearance, so that peace may prevail with righteousness, justice with order, so that men and women throughout this nation can find with one another the fulfillment of our humanity.
We pray that the president, vice president and all in political authority will remember the words of the prophet Micah, "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and always walk humbly with God?"
Señor Presidente, señor Vicepresidente, que Dios bendiga todos sus días. Todo esto lo ruego, en el más santo nombre, Amén.
Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, may God bless you all your days. All this we pray, in your most holy name, amen.