Benedictine College Launches Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign

Benedictine College has launched a human trafficking awareness campaign for the spring semester, beginning with a showing of the film End It. The campaign is being hosted by the Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassadors at Benedictine College. After the film showing, students were given an opportunity to write to their congressman as a call to action. The campaign will continue throughout the rest of the semester, hosting events such as a solidarity vigil and a lecture given by trafficking abolitionist Dr. Shalina Stilley.

President of the CRS Benedictine chapter, Hannah Voss, noted that “The campaign’s motto is ‘I am the cause, I am the solution.’ It ties in our solidarity as individuals and our roles.”

Read more in Benedictine’s student newspaper, The Circuit.

International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking

Today is the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking and feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, a former slave. Catholic Relief Services provides more information and ideas on how to raise awareness to the issue.

A Prayer for an End to Human Trafficking (from Catholic Relief Services)

Oh God, we didn’t see them.

But you did—

The hundreds and thousands of human beings

Trafficked each year to join the millions who are trapped in

modern-day slavery

Under terrible conditions, they work in factories, plough fields,

harvest crops, work quarries, fill brothels, clean homes, and

haul water.

Many are children with tiny fingers for weaving rugs

and small shoulders for bearing rifles.

Their labor is forced, their bodies beaten, their faces hidden

from those who don’t really want to see them.

But you see them all, God of the poor.

You hear their cry and you answer by

Opening our eyes, and breaking our hearts

And loosening our tongues to insist:

No mas. No more.

Amen.

National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea and Maritime Human Trafficking Information

In conjunction with the secular holiday National Maritime Day on May 23, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced that the U.S. Church will observe the annual National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea. All are encouraged to pray for and remember all those “who are seafarers, fisherman, and those whose occupations require them to spend most of the year away from their families, in the high seas, and sometimes facing dangerous situations,” remarked Bishop J. Kevin Boland.

As 90% of the world’s goods are transported by sea and the waterways, it is important to remember the 1.2. million seafarers worldwide that make this possible. In addition to praying for and remembering them, we must also be aware of the harsh conditions and danger that they sometimes face.

According to the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT):

modern slavery at sea […] occurs at all stages  of the seafood supply chain, from catching the fish to processing and shipping it for export. The virtually unregulated fishing industry in many countries, coupled with the global demand for cheap seafood, create the lawless condition under which trafficking at sea flourishes.

CCOAHT reports that trafficked workers are subject to extremely long work-days, hazardous conditions, starvation, disregard for medical needs and injuries, beatings, torture, and even killings. Workers can be lured into modern slavery “by false promises of living-wage and incur crippling debts that then become their trafficking situation,” and migrants are especially vulnerable.

The National Day of Prayer and Remembrance will include special Masses on Friday, May 20 at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. at 12:00 p.m. and on Saturday, May 21 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. at 12:10 p.m.. In addition, on Sunday, May 22, pastors are encouraged to use the text for the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea.

Below are three ways to get involved:

  1. Learn practical ways of becoming an ethical consumer of seafood.
  2. Learn about and join USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services’ anti-trafficking efforts.
  3. Donate or take action with Apostleship of the Sea, an Catholic charity that seeks to “provide practical and pastoral care to all seafarers, regardless of nationality, belief or race.”
  4. Pray with us:

Our Lady, Star of the Sea, Mother of God and our Mother, you know all the dangers of soul and body that threaten mariners. Protect your sons and daughters who work and travel on the waters of the world, and protect also their families that await their return. Star of the Sea, Mother of the Church, give light and strength to those chaplains and lay ministers who bring the love of your Divine Son among mariners. Fill their hearts with a supernatural and life-giving zeal for the apostolate. Star of the Sea, light shining in the darkness, be a guide to those who sail amid the storms and dangers of life. Enlighten the hearts of ardent disciples and bring us all to the safety of heaven’s port. Amen. – Apostleship of the Sea

How does your college or university engage with anti-maritime trafficking efforts? Let us know! 

CCOAHT Launches Lenten Postcard Campaign

During Lent, Catholics are called to abstain from consuming meat on Fridays to be in greater solidarity with those in need, leading many to eat more fish throughout the season. This year, the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT) has started a campaign to call for the end of exploitative labor in seafood harvest and production.

CCOAHT’s Lenten Postcard Campaign is an easy way to get involved with anti-human trafficking efforts this Lent.  The campaign was launched in an effort to encourage “greater vigilance on the part of our suppliers to ensure that the seafood we eat is not tainted by slave labor.” The postcards, ask that seafood suppliers “do all in their power to guarantee that their supply chains are free of forced labor.” The two suppliers CCOAHT has chosen to target are Costco and StarKist.

Anyone can download the postcard to Costco here, and the postcard to StarKist here. To have printed and stamped postcards sent to your parish, school, or social justice ministry please contact CCOAHT at cljunquist@usccb.org.

How is your college or university engaging with anti-human trafficking efforts? Let us know! 

International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking

In the spirit of the recent Joint Declaration of Religions Leaders Against Modern Slavery, signed by Pope Francis, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops officially invites you to participate in the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking. On February 8, 2016, the world will join in prayer for victims and survivors of human trafficking and an end to the atrocity.

For those of you in the Washington, DC area, you are all invited to join the USCCB Anti-Trafficking Program for an Interfaith Prayer Service on Monday, February 8. The event will take place at St. Gabriel’s Church in Washington, DC.

For those of you who will not be able to attend, please visit the Program’s website for promotional fliers and links to resources so that you can promote the Day of Prayer and host your own local event.

If you plan to attend or host a local event or have any questions about the Day of Prayer, please contact the Anti-Trafficking Outreach Coordinator at cljungquist@usccb.org. The Program would love to hear about all the local activities going on.

What is your campus planning for the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking? Let us know!