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Human Trafficking: Words from Sister Denise

Sister Denise Wilkinson, general superior, addressed the Sisters of Providence, Providence Associates and others who attended a Communications Night in Providence Hall on Dec. 7, regarding the human trafficking issue. Here are the highlights.

Human Trafficking is an on-going issue. Why are the Sisters of Providence giving it the attention and focus here and now?

Four reasons:

  1. The upcoming Super Bowl in Indianapolis gives the Sisters of Providence the opportunity to work together to speak out and take action against the social sin of human trafficking.
  2. An organization to which the SPs belong and participate – CCRIM (Center for Corporate Responsibility, Indiana, Michigan) has invited all its member religious congregations to join the effort to extend the reach and impact of the actions and prayer it has planned.
  3. The Chapter commitment of the SPs to “free ourselves to better respond to urgent global issues especially those impacting women and Earth,” agreed to this past summer, supports us getting involved and taking action against human trafficking.
  4. By extending the message to our SP members, associates, colleagues and friends we can have a much wider impact on the issue and all work in a planned, coordinated way to insure the focus has the widest, deepest impact possible.

Sister Mary Jo Swift, a Daughters of Charity sister from San Antonio, Tex., will share information about trafficking and the actions to be taken to raise awareness about it and to combat it in regard to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

Sisters Dawn Tomaszewski, general officer, and Lisa Stallings, vicar, will share with us local plans for the Sisters of Providence participation in the actions – here on the motherhouse grounds and in Terre Haute. I am grateful to Sisters Dawn and Lisa for organizing not only tonight but future activities and for coordinating our local efforts with CCRIM’s efforts.

I have in my office a poster with which many of you may be familiar. It depicts what Gandhi identified as the Seven Deadly Social Sins – two of these seem apt to our efforts against human trafficking: Gandhi believed these two are social sins: “commerce without morality” and “pleasure without conscience.”  Certainly the trafficking of humans for sexual exploitation at a major sporting event qualifies as social sins defined in these ways.

Finally, I remind us of the words of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, when she experienced the selling of humans in New Orleans. She wrote: “Every day in the streets at appointed places, negroes and negresses in holiday attire are exposed for this shameful traffic, like the meanest animal at our fairs. This spectacle oppressed my heart. Lo! I said to myself, these Americans, so proud of their liberty, thus make game of the liberty of others. … I would have wished to buy them all that I might say to them, “Go! Bless Providence! You are free.”

In this moment, we have an opportunity – by our prayer, words and actions – to do what we can to set free these captives – and so further the loving plans of Providence for all people and for Earth.

Sister Denise Wilkinson

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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