The Mother Cabrini Shrine Outreach Committee sponsored an information gathering session on the topic of Human Trafficking with the focus on Colorado and the local counties. Kelly Zebroski from Child Protection Services and Gregg Slater from the County District Attorney Office were the speakers. Thirty-three people attended and took with them twenty English/Spanish name cards with the trafficking hotline number to be distributed in their areas. Attendees also took with them a copy of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart Corporate Stance on Human Trafficking.
For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for National Migration Week 2017 draws attention to Pope Francis’ call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us. In the homily given at his first Pentecost as pope, he emphasized the importance of encounter in the Christian faith: “For me this word is very important. Encounter with others. Why? Because faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others.”
With respect to migrants, too often in our contemporary culture we fail to encounter them as persons, and instead look at them as others. We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious of their intentions.
During this National Migration Week, let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as children of God who are worthy of our attention and support.
~ from the USCCB website
To learn more and for further resources, please visit: http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week
Informed by his Franciscan Community of an important Lenten advocacy campaign for slave-free seafood, Fr. Edwin Robinson, OFM, Director of Pastoral Care at Cabrini of Westchester, was compelled to raise awareness. He shared the Lenten initiative led by the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT) with Patricia Krasnausky, President and CEO, and, together, they brought the campaign to the Cabrini community.
In honor of the Year of Mercy, Ms. Krasnausky ordered and distributed over 500 hundred pre-paid postcards addressed to two of the largest distributors of seafood: Costco and Starkist. The message on the postcards read: “Catholics want slave-free seafood this year, and will be vigilant about this as we observe Lent. We, therefore, kindly urge you to do all in your power to ensure that your supply chains are free of the taint of forced labor.”
Ms. Krasnausky had the postcards signed by many employees of Cabrini of Westchester as well as those in attendance of the Cabrini Day of Prayer, Restoration and Renewal held at Cabrini College. Many were stunned to learn that the United States imports 80-90% of its seafood, and tens of thousands of people are exploited at every link in the seafood harvesting and production chain.
As a result of Cabrini’s participation, we received the following feedback from CCOAHT. “Over 15,000 cards were mailed, which exceeded the goals of the campaign. As a result, the National Fisheries Institute contacted the US Bishops Conference and a meeting is scheduled to occur in May. This contact means that the mail campaign had an effect. The initial meeting is the first step in the effort re halting the human trafficking situation in shrimp and fish farming.”
Therefore, all the individuals who signed and mailed in postcards made a significant contribution to the campaign. Thank you, and God bless one and all!
In recent years, Americans have grown increasingly aware of human trafficking – a modern day form of slavery. The victims of this crime suffer greatly – victims ranging from children to young teens and mature individuals, are sold into prostitution, hard labor, or both. Feeling hopeless, they can lose their sense of optimism and self worth.
Anti-human trafficking organizations and support networks have been created in response to the spread of human trafficking. Through the support these organizations provide many victims of this heinous crime have found solace and a fresh outlook on life. In turn, trafficking survivors have the opportunity to share their stories and join in the effort to save others.
One such advocacy organization is Dawn’s Place, a shelter in our area, – a sanctuary, really, – for women who have fallen victim to human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Their staff members provide these women with a home-like environment where they are accompanied in their transition back into society.
The Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition (CAAC), with its Cabrini Closet initiative, has worked to provide stylish, contemporary clothing for victims of human trafficking. Concerned and generous individuals have donated new and gently used clothing, household items and gift cards to CAAC to enable the Coalition to assist organizations in helping these victims to recover. Many victims of human trafficking, at the time they are rescued, have nothing but the clothes on their backs.
To enhance their ability to assist these shelters and sanctuaries, the Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition recently hosted a sale at Cabrini College, where Coalition members and volunteers sold donated designer purses, belts, shoes, scarves, and jewelry to help fund CAAC’s efforts.
The CAAC chairperson and sale coordinator, Karol Brewer, with the help of her coalition members Cassie Woestman and Ruby Remley, said that the funds raised were beyond their expectations. They were grateful that so many people, who had no particular affiliation to the Coalition or to the College, attended the sale. While they were on campus, visitors asked members enjoyed being able to educate others on the issue, as well as their work, all while raising money to continue their efforts.
Since the Cabrini Closet’s resources are often called upon in times of emergencies, Karol says it is “a good feeling to [be able to] fulfill those needs right away.” CAAC will donate a a portion of the sale’s proceeds to the women’s shelter Dawn’s Place.
When we hear the words human trafficking we think of the horrors foreign women and children go through in their countries. From rape, to torture, to prostitution, and even death. But what not many people are aware of is that human trafficking is a practice common not just in poorer countries but in wealthy countries like the U.S. Human trafficking is not just the dark and dingy picture portrayed in films. American children and young adults being forced into prostitution and into working for someone else’s profit is human trafficking. The King of Prussia Mall, located in suburban Philadelphia, and many other malls, and concerts and sporting events in the U.S. are playgrounds for traffickers. They target runaways and vulnerable young people.
Cabrini freshman, Christian Vazquez, had a basic understanding of human trafficking from learning about it at his high school, but he admits that he was not aware of how close to home this occurrence is. Because of the assumed “…tough laws…” that the U.S. has, many Americans like Christian have no idea that human trafficking is an international occurrence and not just another misfortune third world citizens have to endure.
Thankfully, the Cabrinian community continues spreading awareness on social justice issues and providing for those in need. The Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition is an MSC ministry that promulgates the MSC’s two corporate stances: to SUPPORT the rights and dignity of all immigrants and STOP human trafficking once and for all.
“The coalition was formed to do whatever we [could] to stop human trafficking,” current chairman, Karol Brewer explains. Karol began her work with the Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition many years ago, and because of her dedication to helping the most vulnerable, the MSCs asked her to chair this initiative.
Karol is also the founder of The Cabrini Closet, “a trendy Goodwill” — as I call it — which specializes in providing human trafficking victims with new and contemporary attire to better accommodate them in their transition into society once again. She began this work after forming a friendship with an FBI agent who worked solely with trafficking victims and hearing the stories of what these people go through. “We have to do something — we can do something!” Karol recalled telling herself. So she took matters into her own hands and thought: “Why not do this on our own?” And so, The Closet was created!
To further spread the word on The Closet and promote awareness as well as support for Human Trafficking and its victims, the Cabrini Action and Advocacy Coalition will be hosting a sale to raise funds for the cause. The sale will take place on Wednesday, March 16th in the College’s Grace Hall Atrium from 10:00 am-3:00 pm. (See flyer on page 6.) They will be selling designer purses, shoes, belts, and many more items, which were donated to The Closet by generous people from all over the country. These items will be sold at reasonable prices.
Karol has reached out to top designers to ask them to donate at least one of their bags. She has sent out about 15 requests to designers ranging from Michael Kors to Ralph Lauren and even Coach. She is still waiting for replies but is hoping at least one agrees. Being as though this is the first fundraiser the coalition has hosted, she expressed her nervousness for the turnout of the sale. But she was enthused about the Cabrini community and their support of the cause. Though she admits that it is a lot of work, Karol finds it all to be exceptionally “gratifying…[and] wonderful that [we] get to do this.”
All proceeds will go directly towards the Coalition to provide funds and gift cards for trafficking victims, and to Dawn’s Place, a shelter in Southeastern Pennsylvania for women who are victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse.
Monday, February 8
End injustice with prayer and action
A Catholic sister and former slave, Saint Josephine Bakhita is for many a companion in the fight against human trafficking. Her feast day coincides with the U.S. Bishops’ Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Human Trafficking. In 2013 when this day was inaugurated, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo called upon the church to “lift our voices loudly in prayer, hope, and love for trafficking victims and survivors” and emphasized awareness and action on their behalf.
Dear Cabrini Friends,
We just received an emergency call from a Victim Assistance Specialist with Homeland Security. She is working with 4 young men from Honduras who are the victims of child sex tourism.
She said, “Because of their cooperation and victimization, they are eligible to move to the US, which they will be doing immediately following sentencing of the perpetrator. I am trying to get things in place for their arrival next week (for trial) and want to ease the transition and have been having a very tough time. I’m hoping you can help… Some of the things I am looking for are:
- Warm clothing to include hats, gloves, pants, shirts, boots, etc. (the boys only have very minimal clothes suitable for a warm weather climate like Honduras).
- The boys are in their early/mid 20’s and they are all on the smaller side. All wear a size Small for shirts/jackets and here are the rest of the sizes:
Victim 1—Pants- 30×32, Shoe size 8
Victim 2 – Pants- 32×30, Shoe size 7 ½ or 8
Victim 3 – Pants- 30×30 or 30×32, shoe size 9
Victim 4 – Pants- 28 or 29×30, shoe size 7 ½
- Miscellaneous items such as dishes, sheets, towels, mattresses, food,
- toiletries, etc.
- Gift cards to stores such as Walmart, Target, food stores: Giant, Acme
Please let me know if you can help in any way.
Cabrini Action & Advocacy Coalition email@example.com
18 Cabrini College students made 38 lobby visits Friday on behalf of our brothers and sisters around the world who are refugees fleeing war, experiencing climate change, or hoping to live a fully human life. So proud of these students, as well as several hundred Cabrini students in prior years, who have risen to the challenge to master difficult material, negotiate political differences, discover their core values, overcome nervousness, in order to speak truth to power.
Well done! Wanda Hernandez, Cabrini Mission Corps Rachel Recolcolin, Julia Alexis, Sarah Davis, Cabrini Missioner Morgan Perry, CRS Ambassador Casey Semenza, Cabrini Missioner Vanessa Miranda, Katie Montella, Cristabel Ruiz, Mike Burrell, Jordan Floyd, Alissa Oliveras, Kiley Sharp, Jerome Bailey, Steve Halko, Leonard Brock, Amina Etienne, Kalle Blindenbacher
They spoke with aides to Senator Pat Toomey, Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.,Congressman Joe Pitts, Congressman Robert Brady, Congressman Chaka Fattah, Congressman Patrick Meehan, and Congressman Brendan Boyle
Supporting the work of Catholic Relief Services and CRS University, they delivered 400 letters supporting CRS’s #IAmClimateChange campaign and the Green Climate Fund. They spoke in support of $1 billion in additional funding for Syrian refugees, as well as to maintain or increase poverty-focused development assistance.
Beginning in 2008, students each semester have traveled to our nation’s Capitol to meet with our elected representatives in conjunction with Catholic Relief Services and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to “Confront Global Poverty.” This year, Pope Francis has placed special attention on Caring for Our Common Home and climate change, and these students responded by discussing climate change with congress during the very weeks leaders from around the world are meeting in Paris to come to an historic agreement.
Similarly, in this contentious time, these students also bravely spoke about Syrian refugees and our duty to protect refugees seeking safety.
These students truly continue the work of St. Frances Cabrini, the patron saint of immigrants, after whom Cabrini College is named. #JusticeMatters
More photos at https://www.flickr.com/ph
“We are here to create something NEW”
…These are the words of MSC General Superior Sr. Barbara Staley, spoken as she offered her opening remarks at the 2015 Provincial Assembly currently in session in Florham Park, New Jersey.
Missionary Sisters and lay leaders from the Stella Maris Province were united in an Assembly for the first time with the Missionary Sisters from Mexico and Central America. In the near future, the MSCs from Mexico and Central America will join the MSCs of the Stella Maris Province in forming a new entity.
Sr. Barbara reflected, “we are living the dreams and visions of our sisters of the past. We are building the future, which we look to with hope. Sisters and brothers, we are living in the rivers of grace and mercy; a grace that comes to us through charism.”
Fittingly, as the Stella Maris Province unites with the region of Central America, the theme of the Provincial Assembly is “interculture-ality”. To explore the implications of this new entity – this new union – Dr. Arturo Chavez, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas, led the Assembly in interactive exercises designed to consider the many dimensions of culture.
Taken from the work of Edward T. Hall and Eric H.F. Law, “culture is the particular way in which a human group interprets life and relates with nature, God, the world and other peoples. Culture is lived and expressed through traditions, relationships, food, music, religion, beliefs, thought patterns, myths and how we act. It is not only how we are, it is who we are. It is our history, our ethnicity, how we think about our families, who we include in our families, how we speak and when we speak, how we think about God and how we relate to God. It is how we relate to each other and how we relate to the stranger.”
Dr. Chavez asked the Assembly to consider the “Iceberg Analogy of Culture” created by Hall and Law. In doing so, sisters and laity contemplated the internal and external aspects of culture. The Assembly was invited to share in conversation about individual family heritage and traditions – how these serve to form an individual and his or her perceptions of others and of the world.
The first step in building an intercultural community, posited Dr. Chavez, is to get to know our own hearts. Being aware of our own heart, we come to a better understanding of our own power and how cultures have formed us.
One session of the Assembly focused on the way in which Cabrinian ministries are addressing the pressing issues of immigration, migration, refugees, asylum seekers and human trafficking. It is through these responses that we see how the Cabrinian charism is living and active in the world today.
Woven into the Assembly program were times for prayer and reflection each highlighting a different country present at the Assembly. Liturgies at the Assembly were offered in Spanish and English in honor of the new reality. In a further spirit of celebration, during Monday’s liturgy, Vicky Lucio renewed her commitment as a Cabrini Lay Missionary (CLM).
Nothing transcends culture like music and dancing. Therefore, no Assembly is complete without its own fiesta! With smiles and laughter, Missionary Sisters and laity shared the floor dancing to the beat of Latin, Swazi and American songs…united as one. For more photos visit: www.mothercabrini.org