The Sisters of St. Vincent’s, Indianapolis, hosted a major conference on Human Trafficking on April 12, 2010.  Motivated by  the local communities Common Plan for 2009/10 the Sisters undertook something they had never done before as a local house –they planned and implemented a gathering of various professions and publics throughout the Indianapolis area.  89 individuals attended during two sessions on 4/12 and 100 high school students in a separate session on 4/13.

The Sisters called on the talents of Sister Mary Jo Swift, D.C. and Ann Delaney as their conference speakers.  Sister Mary Jo works full-time, through Catholic Charities of San Antonio, in the ministry of human traffic advocate, giving educational guidance to groups throughout the county to awaken the awareness of our society to the realities of the horror of this 21st century form or slavery.  Ann Delaney is the Executive Director of the Indianapolis Julian Center, a domestic violence shelter that has been selected to work with the Department of Justice in providing a safe-haven for individuals who had been rescued from trafficking.  Sister Mary Jo began with a global and national understanding of the issues involved in human trafficking.  Then Ms. Delaney spoke of issues facing the local community in Indianapolis, sharing what is current in State Law as well as efforts being undertaken through coalitions and advocacy groups at a local level.  It was heartwarming to know that Indianapolis is very active in addressing the issues and problems and has lots of grassroots efforts in place.

Response for the audience was amazing as individuals volunteered to join the various coalitions; invited Sister Mary Jo to return to speak to other groups around the community; and wanted to form a speakers’ bureau to take the message throughout our community.  The audience was a real cross-section of staff for several campuses of St. Vincent Health, members of the St. Vincent DePaul Society, area Law Enforcement, Health and Human Service Agencies, the Attorney General’s Office, and Students from Local Colleges.  Students from Brebeuf Catholic High School had their own conference on Tuesday, 4/13.   (Coincidentally, the evening of the conference the local law enforcement agencies raided 12 massage parlor in Indianapolis, finding 30 individuals who were being trafficked.  It seems God gave us a clear sign of why advocacy is so needed.)

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