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On Saturday, April 29, there was a March in Washington, D.C., for Climate Change. People who could not travel to D.C. were encouraged to have their own marches. Here in Milwaukee, the organizers had us gather at Escuela Verde School on Pierce St. so time could be set aside for education on climate change and recycling from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
At 1 p.m., the people gathered outdoors for the march, which went down the Hank Aaron Trail all the way to the Mitchell Park Domes on 27th Street, then back around to Escuela Verde School.
(L to R) Sisters JoAnn Schmitz and Margaret Kruse, Associate Cathy Nunez from San Diego and Jan Parrott (Fund Development) met before the walk.
Homemade signs were everywhere.
Several sisters from Clare Hall and the surrounding area were present at a Milwaukee court hearing on Friday, April 28, for the sentencing of a sex trafficker.
We arrived early and our wait in the corridor outside the courtroom allowed us time for conversation with a victim of sex trafficking. This woman freely spoke about how easily anyone can be caught and trapped in this business.
She described her ordeal as “an experience of hell.” She said that the offender exercises total control over all his women. In this woman’s case, she was a slave in her own home. The pimp moved in and brought other victims in with him. All victims were branded, as if they were cattle. This brand mark was the picture of the pimp’s face tattooed on the neck of each person that he claimed. The woman who spoke with us had a large red rose tattooed over hers to covered the branding that she was given by the pimp. And she assured us that she was going to have a lot to say in her testimony.
Later, as we sat in “the gallery” of the courtroom, the perpetrator was brought in. I saw how this young woman, who spoke so freely in the hallway, now seemed to be traumatized by just catching a glimpse of this sex violator. I noticed that she cringed and seemed distraught.
When the judge called her forward to testify, she could only state that what she experienced was hell. She was unable to utter anything else.
Our presence and support for this victim was very important. The judge knew that we were there to see that justice was done. In the end, the offender was given a 15-year sentence, far more than was expected.
There will be more such cases in the future. Let us not hesitate to stand up for justice. Let us be ready and willing to serve in this “Ministry of Presence,” even in a courtroom. The future of religious life is about responding to the now moment. Let us not overlook what is right in front of us today and every day.
Sisters Kathy Kreie & Margaret Kruse went to the Immigration March in Milwaukee on Saturday, January 14. People gathered at Voces de la Frontera at 11 a.m., for prayer and speeches, and then began the march to the downtown courthouse.
At the courthouse there was a skit and more talks were given. The day event concluded at approximately 1:30.
A group of OSF sisters and friends joined the School Sisters of St. Francis at the SSSF Motherhouse on January 15 to spend a half hour in public prayer for peace. It was called “Circle the Cities with Love.” This is a movement begun in Cleveland, Ohio, last summer by Sr. Rita Petruziello, CSJ, who was inspired to circle the city of Cleveland in contemplative meditation during the Republican Convention so as to be a sign of a peaceful presence.
The response was phenomenal. Milwaukee is now part of this movement already established in over 40 cities and two other countries to Circle the City (Milwaukee) with Love at a time of great need for healing, peace and justice around the inauguration of our new President. This is not a “religious” nor a partisan movement. It is open to anyone who “wants to bring peace and love into the universe, because we need it.”
On October 2, Sr. Margaret Kruse went to St. Peter Parish in Slinger, Wisconsin, to give a presentation on human trafficking. This was part of the parish adult education program. Between 25 and 30 people were in attendance, and Sr. Margaret noted that here was great interest in learning more about this issue. Some had exposure to trafficking, but were very curious about what is happening now in Milwaukee and the surrounding area.
All the parishes in Wisconsin received a Toolkit last November, so interested persons can request information or a human trafficking presentation at a local parish. The kit includes a DVD – “Chosen,” a sheet on human trafficking resources for Wisconsin parishes, statistics on sex trafficking and labor trafficking, business cards with a hotline number, a business card listing the “red flag” signs of trafficking, and a flash drive containing a presentation on trafficking.
JPIC Directors and Communication Directors of LCWR’s Region 9 are creating a toolkit on human trafficking for parishes and schools. Components of the toolkit consist of: a power point presentation on trafficking, the DVD “The Chosen,” a fact sheet with action items and resources, a one page visual chart on sex and labor trafficking, a business card with the hotline number for victims (888-3737-888), and a business card to “Know the Red Flags.” Sisters Margaret Kruse and Ann Kelley have volunteered to speak in parishes in the Milwaukee Archdiocese on this topic.
For many months a group of sisters and associates have been meeting to discuss the feasibility of providing a house of hospitality/drop-in center for victims of human trafficking / prostitution on the south side of Milwaukee. Founding members of this group include the School Sisters of St. Francis, the pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church, Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, and the Sisters of St. Joseph – Third Order of St. Francis in Stevens Point. The house would be a center where women could find respite, community resources and advocacy, spiritual guidance, holistic healing and moral support. Debbie Asbury facilitated a process to determine how members of the Hospitality House Committee and the Benedict Center’s Sisters Program could collaborate to serve potential clients. Sisters Diana De Bruin and Margaret Kruse attended the day of processing.
One way that all sisters and associates can get involved in the human trafficking issue is to pray for the reduction and eventual elimination of this modern day form of human slavery.
What we also know at this point is that legal incorporation for this endeavor is in process and there are several non-profit agencies, a Lutheran pastor, and the Benedict Center (a non-profit organization already working with women in another part of the city that is willing to help with programing on the south side), that are interested, along with additional congregations of women religious. The proposed plan is to rent a house in Police District 2 on the south side of Milwaukee. As OSFs we will have to decide the extent to which we want to commit to this project. Funding, personnel and volunteers are all avenues for our participation.