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Standing for human dignity and against human trafficking

Working toward the enablement of persons and the promotion of human dignity, we contribute to positive systemic change in society.

– SSND Constitution, You Are Sent (YAS), GD 33

By Tim Dewane, JPIC Director

School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) work on a variety of issues concerning the preservation of basic human rights and human dignity, few are as compelling as the issue of human trafficking. Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. It is a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry that employs force, fraud and coercion to exploit tens of millions of women, children and men for profit here and throughout the world.

Human trafficking occurs in every community in which SSND sisters minister. In the U.S., trafficking happens in big cities, small towns and even rural areas. Labor trafficking occurs in food processing facilities, restaurants, the construction industry, farms, housekeeping and nail salons. Children, women and men are exploited through sex trafficking – both in-person and online. Traffickers lure their victims in with false promises of good jobs, education, economic security and love. Once enticed, traffickers keep their victims from seeking help through means such as threats of violence against the victim or their family, physical or psychological abuse and confiscating identification documents.

Pope Francis describes human trafficking as “a crime against humanity” and “a deep and open wound in the body of Christ and in the body of all humanity, which affects each one of us.” Here in the Central Pacific Province, sisters work on the issue of human trafficking utilizing three paths – awareness building, advocacy and engagement at the local level and with corporate businesses to influence best practices that protect workers and prevent human trafficking.

Awareness and advocacy

To help build awareness and advocate for engagement on the issue of human trafficking, SSND partners with other women religious to sponsor the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking initiative and the Stop Trafficking! monthly newsletter. Many sisters have written letters and contacted their elected officials about doing more to address human trafficking and provide support for survivors. SSND has collaborated on the development of an anti-human trafficking toolkit and the presentation of a variety of webinars. Tools and webinars can be found on our website, Human Trafficking resources.

2023 enews Jan issue image of SSNDs and asssociates with certificates of completion for an online class, Human Trafficking 101.

Local and corporate engagement

While human trafficking is present everywhere SSND live and minister, so too are community programs and collaborations to address it. At the local level, we have some sisters and associates involved in employer and community-based anti-trafficking efforts. The road to recovery is often a long one for human trafficking survivors and the need for community support services is critical. That is why SSND provides volunteer and financial support for efforts like the St. Josephine Bakhita Catholic Worker House and the Benedict Center Sisters Program South initiative in Milwaukee.

“The gift of our internationality sharpens our consciousness of universal needs and call us to foster within ourselves and others a responsible concern for the people of the world.” (YAS, GD 36) One way SSND reflect this is through our collaboration with other faith-based investors (through the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility) to engage in shareholder dialogue with publicly held companies about steps they can take to eliminate forced labor and human trafficking from their global supply chains.

What you can do

Everyone can play a role in addressing human trafficking. Help build awareness and engagement in addressing this “open wound in the body of Christ and in the body of humanity.”

And please, do not forget the power of prayer. Download the SSND Prayer For an End to Human Trafficking.


Want to learn more?


School Sisters of Notre Dame

320 East Ripa Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100



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