Sunday, February 7, 2016

Press Release: San Antonio Sisters Continue Their Work To End Human Trafficking

For Immediate Release

Contact the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word:
Jennifer Reyes, Assistant Director of JPIC Office

On World Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking

San Antonio Sisters Continue Their Work to End Human Trafficking 

In 2015 Pope Francis declared Feb. 8th World Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking, a day which coincides with the Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint for survivors of human trafficking.  As this day approaches for the second time, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio, TX will participate with prayer and reflection, as they re-commit themselves in their work to end human trafficking and support survivors of human trafficking.  In 2015 the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, comprised of approximately 289 Sisters throughout the United States, Mexico, Peru, and Zambia, approved a Corporate Stance Against Human Trafficking (see attachment).  This Corporate Stance connects to the Sisters’ charism “to make real the love of God, as shown in the Incarnation, a real and tangible presence in the world today.”

Human Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery that entraps millions of people around the world each year, including in the United States.  In 2015, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 1,437 people for human trafficking and rescued nearly 400 survivors in the U.S. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center reported 330 cases of human trafficking in Texas alone in 2015.  Just a few weeks ago Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the creation of a new human trafficking unit for Texas.  

This is an important issue that calls for everyone to respond and do what they can to end trafficking and support survivors.  Since taking the Corporate Stance in 2015, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word have joined national networks of religious working on this issue including U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) in the U.S. and the Red Kawsay in Peru.  They have hosted educational workshops in the U.S., Mexico, and Peru, including a workshop last October in San Antonio focused on educating health care workers about how to recognize the signs of human trafficking and how to respond to potential victims.  The Sisters have also been active in advocacy efforts, with Sr. Katty Huanuco appearing before the Peruvian Congress to testify on the issue of human trafficking, and a group of Sisters and their staff participating in a lobby and education day at the Missouri State Capitol.  The Congregation’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office also maintains a blog with regular posts related to human trafficking education and action items.  

As the Congregation reflects on its commitment to end human trafficking, it is also making plans to expand its efforts in the future.  Recently Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, a professor of Religious Studies at the University of the Incarnate Word, was awarded a $3000 grant from the Lilly Fellows Program to create faith-based faculty conversations that can promote service learning and engaged scholarship on human trafficking.  The Congregation is connected to other schools and health systems including CHRISTUS Health, and is looking forward to collaborating with them to expand the work against human trafficking and support of survivors.  The Sisters invite and encourage others to join them in this work to end modern day slavery. 


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