Missionary Sisters, CMC missioners, Cabrinian collaborators and community members gathered at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini shrine in New York City on the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita to pray for the victims of human trafficking. Approximately 50 people were in attendance for this special prayer service.
The service was led by Cherie Sprosty, a liturgist with 25 years experience in the LA Archdiocese, and opened with a moment of silence for the millions of people who are enslaved around the world. Attendees were invited into the seemingly hopeless and desperate world of those enslaved with a dramatic reading of Psalm 10:12-18 by Josh Guerrero, a Washington Heights community member who is very passionate about ending human trafficking, and Kris Reed, Director of the St. F.X. Cabrini Shrine. CMC missioner Jenay Smith continued the journey into the darkness with a reading from Exodus where Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he did not let God’s people go. Ethan Applegate, a professional singer and actor, served as cantor. His baritone voice singing the words of Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me,” brought chills to many.
Sr. Veronica Piccone, MSC shared the heroic story of St. Bakhita, who defied her owners in order to gain her freedom and serve the Lord as a Canossian Sister. At this point all sang, “The Lord is my light and my salvation,” thus honoring the faith and courage of those who are able to become free from slavery. Michelle Soto, Pastor and CEO of Fierce Woman Found Ministries, provided a truly powerful and inspiring homily. Her call to action was rooted in scripture and encouraged all to make the world a more just place for all. CMC missioner Melanie Paccillo provided some practical suggestions as to how one could help survivors of human trafficking. Samantha Inesta, Founder and Executive Director of CAAC partner organization Be a Sister 2 a Sister, led the prayers of the people with a clear passion. The service ended with all praying the Prayer for the End of Human Trafficking and the hymn, “We Are Called.” The mood of the prayer service was grounded in the beautiful music, provided by Cabrinian collaborators Robin Larkins and Lorraine Campanelli.
Guests remained after the service to enjoy refreshments and fellowship. Sr. Patricia Spillane, MSC spoke with a family who emigrated from Ecuador. The family of three traveled from Queens, NY especially for this prayer service.
All who attended had a beautiful and prayerful afternoon. A special thank you is in order to all who participated as well as those who offered prayers and well wishes for the success of the event. May the prayers of the holy team of St. Frances Cabrini and St. Josephine Bakhita be with those involved in the fight against human trafficking. May the end of slavery come about through their powerful intercession and God’s amazing grace.