We were so honored to have Sisters Rosemary Powers and Josie Chroniak, both Sisters of the Humility of Mary, with us at our Mary of Magdala Celebration in Cleveland. Describing human trafficking as “a hidden problem,” these women have made it their mission to pull this modern day form of slavery out of the darkness and into the light.
Through their work with the Collaborative Initiative to End Human Trafficking, Josie and Rosemary are bringing their message to high schools, college campuses, and groups like ours. Besides making their audiences aware of the problem, they gently call everyone who will listen to conversion. They noted that “high demand” is the reason human trafficking is such a problem in our world, pointing out that much of the demand was for the laborers who make our clothes, clean our hotel rooms, do our nails, make our candy, and harvest our food — not just sex. In fact, the demand is so high that two human beings are sold into modern day slavery every minute. They pointed us to slaveryfootprint.org to help us see how we may unknowingly and unwillingly may be contributing to the demand.
Their message was all the more poignant within the context of our touching Mary of Magdala prayer service. As we heard the first-person accounts of victims of human trafficking paired with the John’s complete account of the exchange between Mary of Magdala and Jesus at the tomb.
And as I sat with the image of Mary at the empty tomb I couldn’t help but think of all the ways the victims are entombed by this modern day form of slavery: cut of from family, cut off from dignity, denied food, refused medical care, physically abused, raped, threatened with harm should they try to escape. All of them waiting to be pulled from the tomb. All of them waiting for their “easter moment.”
And I couldn’t help but think of the tomb of relative ignorance of the this problem that keeps all of us in the dark.
Yet, the message of the Resurrection is one of hope; that the tomb is not the end of the story. I pray and hope that the work of Josie and Ruthmary, modern day Magdalas and disciples of Christ, will one day break the world free from the tombs of busy-ness, ignorance, inaction, and self-centeredness that allow human trafficking to be the “hidden problem” that it is. And more importantly, I hope that their work shines a light onto the systems and structures that allow for the entombment of these victims in this modern day form of slavery.
Like Mary Magdala, Sisters Ruthmary and Josie are visiting the tomb, equipped not with herbs and oils, but with knowledge, wisdom, and a mission. Let us pray and make the changes needed in our lives that one day they and the others who do this fine and important work arrive at the tomb of human trafficking only to find it empty.