Tuesday, October 3, 2017

1st Annual Sr. Antona Ebo Social Justice Conference

The Archdiocese of St. Louis hosted their first annual Sr. Antona Ebo Social Justice Conference on Saturday, September 29, 2017.  The Conference was named after Sr. Antona Ebo, a Franciscan Sister of Mary and St. Louis native who is a long time witness and advocate for civil rights and social justice.  The conference included an opening keynote talk by Rev. Starsky Wilson, pastor of St. John's UCC and former co-chair of the Ferguson Commission which helped author the report "Forward through Ferguson" of policy recommendations for addressing the systemic racism and injustice throughout St. Louis city and county.  Rev. Starsky reflected on the "unfinished business" of the Christian community in reclaiming our call to be Jesus' witnesses/disciples in the world today.
JPIC Office Assistant Director
introducing the workshop
on human trafficking.

The conference was broken into two sections of breakout workshops focusing on the areas of the death penalty, poverty, human trafficking, care for creation, the school to prison pipeline, issues of health, and immigration.  Jennifer Reyes Lay, Assistant Director for the CCVI Congregational JPIC Office, was invited to moderate the panel on human trafficking and share about Catholic Social Teaching on human trafficking. She shared excerpts from bishop's statements and the past three popes who have all spoken out against human trafficking as a sin that violates human dignity.  She also shared about her work with US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking and the recent conference in Bogota, Colombia.  The other presenters on the human trafficking panel included a survivor and current advocate, a prosecuting attorney, and a DHS/ICE official who focuses on cases of human trafficking.

Overall there was a diverse group of approximately 300 people in attendance at the conference.  The lunch time panel focused on the "young church doing social justice" and was energetic and inspiring for all to hear about the initiatives led by teenagers and young adults throughout the diocese, putting their faith into action.  This was a common theme heard throughout the conference of encouraging participants to take their faith and worship out of the sanctuary and into the streets, giving witness to the work for justice we are called to as disciples of Christ.

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