U.S. Sisters Mark 10 Years Fighting Human Trafficking, Ready To Continue ‘For A Long, Long Time’

May 8, 2023

(OSV News) — Just over 10 years ago, Sister Margaret Nacke — a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas — was living in Belleville, a Kansas town known as “the crossroads of America,” where U.S. Highways 36 and 81 intersect.

On a December day in 2012, she was pondering a particular question.

“I said to myself, ‘What are religious sisters doing across the country to stop human trafficking?’” Sister Nacke told OSV News. “So I picked up the phone and called the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.”

Sister Nacke told Sister Ann Scholz, a School Sister of Notre Dame and associate director for social mission at LCWR, that she wanted to establish a collaborative data bank through which sisters could pool their knowledge on trafficking. Sister Scholz, she said, promised to raise the idea at the LCWR’s upcoming meeting and to alert the organization’s point persons for justice and peace initiatives.

“I started hearing from sisters all over,” said Sister Nacke.

LCWR represents the majority of the almost 39,000 women religious in the U.S.

In April 2013, several Catholic sisters were invited by the Obama administration to attend the release of its policy priorities, which included addressing an epidemic of human trafficking in the U.S.

Today, Alliance to End Human Trafficking (AEHT), as the coalition came to be known, counts more than 115 congregations of women religious, individual members, faith-based coalitions and secular organizations.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Human Trafficking Force of the Diocese of Orlando, Florida, and the Catholic Health Association are among the members of AEHT, which in turn is part of Talitha Kum, an international umbrella organization of anti-trafficking efforts by women religious, based in Rome and named for Christ’s words in Aramaic (“Little girl, arise”) at the raising of Jairus’ daughter (Mk 5:41).

AEHT has created a robust website featuring an array of resources for advocates and survivors, and since 2003 has published the monthly “Stop Trafficking” newsletter, launched by Salvatorian Sister Jean Schafer and currently edited by Felician Sister Maryann Mueller.

Read the full article by Gina Christian on OSV News.