“This Good Work” is the Congregation’s bi-monthly e-newsletter to give witness to Precious Blood Spirituality through the lens of social justice, rooted in Gospel values and Catholic social teaching. In it we share real, legitimate information and ways Sisters are thinking about and living out many issues of peace, justice and ecology. This is curated by Peace, Justice and Ecology Coordinator Jen Morin-Williamson and features articles by Sisters.
Human Trafficking 101
By Sister Rita Rogier, CPPS
I was privileged to attend a workshop on human trafficking issues in September. One of my main learnings was the degree of misunderstanding regarding this very crucial issue. The workshop, which was presented by Dr. Tony Talbot of Abolition Ohio, clarified many aspects of this issue for me.
First, human trafficking is a violation of fundamental human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948, asserts in Article 1 that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Read More
I happened to note that this idea complements Catholic Social Teaching, which also asserts that “human life is sacred and … the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society.”
When grappling with human trafficking, it is paramount to frame it within the context of human rights because it puts the victim at the center of the discussion.
I also learned that labor trafficking brings in more money than drug trafficking. Victims are often lured into labor trafficking with the promise of a better life with a good-paying job. Unfortunately, these promises do not pan out, and victims are forced to work for little or no pay. The victims work for the benefit of another person’s profit.
To be considered trafficking, federal law requires three characteristics: FORCE (victims are beaten or chained), FRAUD (victims are told they have to pay off a debt), and COERCION (family or friends of the victims are threatened).
These are only some of the many eye-opening facts that I learned at the workshop. Abolition Ohio, an anti-human trafficking coalition, is a great source for getting the correct information on this very real and timely topic.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month
By Sister Martha Bertke, CPPS
Human trafficking is the second-largest crime in the United States. It is appalling that the average age of entry into trafficking is between 12 and 14 years old.
As of June 2022, Ohio ranks fifth in the nation for human trafficking cases.
SOAP — Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution — is a volunteer-driven organization. Their mission is to end human trafficking by mobilizing communities, providing prevention education and advocacy, and facilitating restorative experiences for survivors. Their outreach is a unique, hands-on community program that allows groups of any size to fight human trafficking locally and potentially recover victims. Read More
Save the date! On Saturday, March 4, 2023, there will be a SOAP Project event at the Human Rights Center at the University of Dayton. It’s scheduled for 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (Watch for registration information on Eventbrite.) The morning will begin with a short informational presentation on human trafficking followed by training on how to spot the signs of human trafficking. Then volunteers will go to Dayton area hotels and motels to distribute bars of soap and makeup removers labeled with the human trafficking hotline, along with educational and outreach materials and local missing teen posters.
Sisters of the Precious Blood help in “this good work.” For several years, a number of Sisters have volunteered through an organization called “Dear Dinah” to be a prayer partner for someone who is a survivor of human trafficking. Sisters also write notes of affirmation and encouragement to a woman who has been traumatized and needs healing. These notes let the person know she is valued and supported. These notes can convey that God created them for a beautiful purpose and can share a sense of love and hope. These women in crisis, whose names are kept confidential, and those who support them, really appreciate the prayers and notes and rely on strength from God. What an honor it is to be a Sister who prays for a woman as she continues to heal and move toward freedom.
How will you help to end human trafficking?
Identity, Bias and Dignity
By Jen Morin-Williamson, Peace, Justice and Ecology Coordinator
Often at the start of a new year, people take time to reflect on themselves and set goals in an effort to become a better, happier person and to live in a way that is in right relationship with God and God’s creation. It’s kind of like pushing a reset button. Intentional, self-reflective practices have been a gift to me in growing my relationship with God as I understand more deeply my authentic self and the inherent dignity I have as God’s beloved child.
While Social Identity Theory has been around since the 1970s, there has been a renewed interest in applying this concept as a way to think about bias. I like to think of my identity like I am a planet with countless moons revolving around me. Sometimes a particular moon is closer to me and sometimes it is distant. Sometimes a particular moon remains undiscovered for a while. And sometimes, I just want to ignore a moon or two for a while. There are many factors that contribute to how various identities resonate with us at any moment. Time is a factor in two ways — time in life and time in the history of humanity. Physical geography and local culture affect how we identify ourselves. Family, friends and social relationships impact our view of who we are. And of course, there are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health aspects of our identities. Read More
Some of my identities are: woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, Catholic, Christian, maker (creative person), white, Midwesterner, Ohioan, Daytonian, able-bodied, mentally and physically healthy, economically stable, intellectual, problem-solver, educated, helper, social justice activist and minister.
Let’s look at that first identity: woman. In my email signature, I put “(she/her)” after my name. This is confusing to some, and I’m often asked to explain this. I am biologically a woman, and I identify with the traits that the culture in which I live associates with “woman.” This is not the case for all people. So, when I use “she/her,” it lets others know that they can use those pronouns when they refer to me. When I interact with others, I want to use the pronouns that they feel identify them. They can self-identify to me, and then I will use those pronouns. To me, this is a respect issue. I don’t have any reason to question them about this identity.
You may also notice that I identify as both a Catholic and a Christian. For me, it is important to name both. My identity as a Catholic has for me many parts — the institutional church and the Church or the people of God. I also recognize “Christian” as a separate identity because it reminds me of my primary or foundational faith — being a follower of Jesus Christ. This also helps me relate to other Christians and even to people of other faith traditions.
These are just two examples of how my identities help to shape my concept of myself as an individual, a member of society and a beloved child of God. As each of us continues to recognize and define our identities, bias (or prejudice) works as an opposing force that threatens to dismantle identity structures for everyone.
Bias is when we deny part of other people’s identity or deem it not as good or valuable as our own. Bias is exacerbated when we turn away from even trying to understand or respect other identities. The Thanksgiving lore perpetuated the negative perception of American Indians. Similar ideas that underpin social structures contribute to systemic racism toward people of color. As well, sometimes this response goes beyond being disrespectful and turns hateful and violent, as in the November shooting at the Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ club.
God created us, and we participate in that creation by being aware of our identities. They are part of the dance we do with the Divine. When we expand our understanding of who we are and why we are, we can more fully see the reflection of the Divine. The dignity of individual is the foundation of Catholic social teaching. Precious Blood spirituality underscores this call to respect people and their identities. Jesus shed his blood for everyone.
Colorado Springs statement
In November, the Sisters of the Precious Blood issued the following statement in response to the mass shooting in Colorado Springs:
We, the Sisters of the Precious Blood, stand with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in their response to the November 19 mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As we are committed to being a life-giving, reconciling, Eucharistic presence of Christ in our fractured world, we are called to stand with those oppressed especially when they become the targets of violence. We believe that we all are created in God’s image. All identities are opportunities to live more fully the person God created us to be and the life God has called us to live. We stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community as we stand in solidarity with other people — Black, Indigenous, Latino or Asian American — who are victims of violence because of their identities. Read More
We pray for all victims and families of other mass shootings which have occurred in November in Oklahoma, Virginia, Florida and Maryland — and we pray for all those affected by individual shootings and other forms of violence that occur every day, all over the country. We must urge our lawmakers to refrain from making public statements that encourage division, hatred, or violence of any kind toward LGBTQ+ persons and other marginalized groups and to pass laws that will reduce violence, beginning with banning assault weapons and providing stricter background checks. We must speak out against hatred in all forms, from physical violence to cruel words to compassionless attitudes. We must begin with love and peace in our own hearts.
By Sister Joyce Kahle, CPPS
Creator God, in your Divine love and graciousness, you blessed us each with our own identities and yet we are all created in your image and are part of one human family. You love each one of us unconditionally and have given us the potential to be unique reflections of your great love. We praise you for the Mystery that you are and the splendor of your creation. Help us to grow in our knowledge and love of our own uniqueness and gifts so that we may reflect that special aspect of your love to those around us.
Christ Jesus, Eternal Word of God, you walked among us, proclaiming the good news of God’s love and showing us concrete ways to love our neighbor. You shed your precious blood out of love for each one of us without exception. Open our hearts to love one another as you taught us and to accept the identities of others without bias or judgment. Read More
Holy Spirit, you were sent among us to guide us and inspire us to live as Jesus taught. Give us the vision to see others as God our Creator sees them. Inspire us to be witnesses of love and acceptance of others. Give us the courage to speak out against prejudice, bias, hatred and violence toward any minority group. Embolden us to proclaim God’s love and to be a reconciling presence in our fractured world. Amen.