The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration designated February 8 as an annual day of prayer for survivors and victims of human trafficking.
February 8 is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. Once Josephine was freed, she dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering.
“On that day, we will lift our voices loudly in prayer, hope, and love for trafficking victims and survivors,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the Committee. “If just one person realizes from this day that they or someone they know is being trafficked, we will have made a difference.”
The USCCB’s Anti-Trafficking program is encouraging Catholics to host or attend prayer services, to reflect on the experiences of those who have suffered through human trafficking and exploitation. Catholics are invited to pray for the emotional, physical, and spiritual healing, and make a personal commitment to work against human trafficking. Catholics are also encouraged to host awareness-raising events educating their parishes and communities about human trafficking in whichever way they choose, be it a Mass, a film screening, or an information session.
In early 2014, USCCB will work to educate parishes throughout the country on human trafficking, with release of educational materials during National Migration Week (January 5-11) and the Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Human Trafficking.
USCCB’s Anti-Trafficking Program advocates for better protection for victims of human trafficking, provides training and technical assistance to service providers, and educates the public on the prevalence of human trafficking. In 2013, USCCB launched the Amistad Movement to empower immigrants and local leaders to prevent human trafficking in their communities.
USCCB is a founding member of the Coalition of Catholic Organizations against Human Trafficking, whose main goals are to educate Catholics about human trafficking, to promote responsible consumer practices, and to support national legislation that combats human trafficking.
More information on the work of USCCB’s Anti-Trafficking Program is available at: www.usccb.org/about/anti-trafficking-program/.