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Boston Area Women Religious Host Prayer Vigil for 5th National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Brighton, MA : Local Catholic Sisters representing congregations in the Greater Boston area gathered on January 6 to commemorate the sixth annual National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Over 125 sisters, associates, friends, and neighbors joined in a prayer vigil for an end to the evil of modern-day slavery.

This event was organized by the Anti-Trafficking Coalition [ATC] of the Boston Unit of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious [LCWR]. The mission of the ATC is to raise awareness of the reality of human trafficking both locally and globally, and to alert concerned people about how individuals can make a difference in eradicating human trafficking.

Human Trafficking is modern-day slavery. While many call it a hidden crime that exists throughout the world, it exists right here, right now in the Boston area.

This prayer vigil is celebrated annually on the Sunday before January 11 because of the resolution passed by the U.S. Senate on June 22, 2007, marking January 11 as a day of awareness and vigilance for victims of Human Trafficking across the globe. In addition, President Barak Obama proclaimed January as national Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In June 2009 Pope Benedict XVI lauded the commitment made by women religious to put a stop to human trafficking and rebuild the lives of those victimized by this phenomenon.

The vigil began and ended with prayer. Many participants processed outside. As motorists, cyclists, and the 57 bus passed by vigilers stood in silence holding dozens of signs proclaiming one message: Stop Human Trafficking!Others remained in chapel where they participated in silent prayer for all whose lives are affected by human trafficking.

Roman Catholic women religious have been key leaders in the national and international movement to stop human trafficking. The ATC is a group of eight sisters and associates from various congregations of women religious in the Boston area whose mission is to raise awareness and create action plans to attempt to eradicate this tragedy. Sunday’s event is one example of furthering that mission. While the sex industry claims a big percent of human trafficking, incidents of slave or bonded labor have been reported in virtually every industry of our consumer society. On Saturday, April 6, 2013, the ATC will host its sixth symposia at Fontbonne Academy, Milton, MA. The centerpiece of this year’s symposia will be in the form of a performance of Soul Cry, a dance presentation by the Accendo Dance Company based on a true story about human trafficking.

The Boston Unit of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious includes twelve Congregations representing over a thousand women religious in the greater Boston area. Members of LCWR are Catholic women religious who are leaders of their orders in the United States. The conference has approximately 1500 members, who represent about 95 percent of the 67,000 women religious in the United States. The conference develops leadership, promotes collaboration within church and society, and serves as a voice for systemic change. Visit their website www.lcwr.org.


Background Information

Human Trafficking is modern-day slavery. While many call it a hidden crime, it exits right here, right now in the Boston area. The goal of the Anti-Trafficking Coalition [ATC] is to raise awareness of the reality of human trafficking both locally and globally and to alert concerned people of good will about how individuals can make a difference in eradicating human trafficking.

Roman Catholic women religious have been key leaders in the national and international movement to stop human trafficking. In the past three years the Boston area ATC has sponsored three symposia attended by well over 200 participants who want to be part of the initiative to end this crime against humanity. Another symposium addressing the issue of Human Trafficking is planned for May, 2012.

An estimated 850,000 people are trafficked annually worldwide, according to the U.S. State Department, 20,000 of them into the United States. Human trafficking forces men, women, and children into pornography, prostitution and other sexual exploitation, as well as labor exploitation. In 1998, the realization that trafficking was a growing problem around the world—and that it was being largely unaddressed—led to the formation of a, broad-based coalition of women's organizations, faith-based groups, children's groups, labor groups, and health groups. This bi-partisan coalition determined that they would do something about human trafficking. Together, they drafted and helped pass the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. The law provides a comprehensive approach to elimination of trafficking in persons through a three-pronged strategy—prevention, prosecution, and protection. In 2003 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Services began educating segments of the public about the horrors of human trafficking. The effort began with members of women's religious communities who have the potential to educate and influence others on behalf of victims of trafficking.

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Sister Martha Ann Kelley holds “Stop Human Trafficking” sign near Cambridge Street bus stop.

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Opening prayer service in Chapel of Sisters of St. Joseph

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A few of the vigilers with signs outside the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph on Cambridge Street.


Contact: Katelyn Dwyer, Director of Communications and Publications, Labouré College 
617.296.8300 ext. 4004 Katelyn_Dwyer@laboure.edu

Joanne Gallagher, CSJ, Director of Communications for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston 
617.746.2110 or Joanne.gallagher@csjboston.org

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