Soon after his election in 2013, Pope Francis held his first workshop on human trafficking, and I went to the Vatican to take part in it. Before I left Paris, I asked the “survivors” living in our shelter what message I should give to the Holy Father on their behalf.
They didn’t give me an envelope with a written message, but a mosaic depicting an empty boat in front of a lighthouse. It represented the island of Lampedusa, one of the primary points of European entry for many migrants. It weighed heavily in my bag!
On the first day of the workshop, we had the joy of meeting Francis. Gathering all my courage, I presented the mosaic to him and explained who had made it.
I took photos of the encounter back to the shelter to share with the residents. After that, the young woman who had made the mosaic was baptized and had her son baptized.
I am a sister in the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. The organization of our congregation into provinces had kept us more focused on the national level. But as part of a “European Circle of Sisters in Apostolic Situations,” we had been meeting regularly to see how we could work together on the European level.
During one of these meetings, maybe in 1994, we read a newspaper article that said 500,000 women from Eastern Europe were victims of trafficking in Western Europe. As Good Shepherd Sisters, dedicated to the service of vulnerable women, we could not ignore that information!
We reported to the council of our congregation that we wanted to make trafficking the topic of our next meetings, but it had not been among the priorities of the previous General Chapter. Not discouraged, we continued insisting — and the next General Chapter made the fight against trafficking its first priority!
One of the sisters of the province had been called to be part of a European group that was being formed — under the aegis of the Union of International Superiors General (UISG) and under the leadership of Consolata Sr. Eugenia Bonetti. But soon, that Good Shepherd sister was elected provincial, and asked me to replace her for this mission.
Tags: Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, Pope Francis
Category: Catholic Church