DE PERE — India, Kenya, Brazil and the Czech Republic are worlds away, but the epidemic levels of human trafficking experienced there and in other countries are also experienced in Wisconsin, said a religious sister whose mission it is to end what she calls the “second worst crime in the world,” human trafficking.
Sr. Celine Goessl, a Sister of Mercy of the Holy Cross, travelled to Ingenbohl, Switzerland, in September with her colleague and fellow Holy Cross Sister, Kathy Lange, to attend the International Conference on Human Trafficking held at their religious community’s motherhouse.
The two women religious who live in De Pere were part of a group of 12 sisters from four continents sharing their stories, statistics and prayers to try to eradicate this crime.
It was nine years ago, during another visit to Switzerland, that Sr. Celine learned about the magnitude of human trafficking. “My heart was just on fire … with passion to do something about it,” she said. One of the strongest messages she heard at that meeting was that trafficking is going on everywhere in the world.
This year’s conference presented Sr. Celine with some eye-opening facts. She learned that Germany, Austria and Switzerland have legalized prostitution and that forced marriage is prevalent in Western Europe. In Uganda, child marriage is prevalent, and elsewhere on the African continent, neglected children, school dropouts and homeless young women may be taken for marriages.
In India, Sr. Tresa Paul has become a civil lawyer, working with cases in Delhi.
“She is a young woman and me an older one, now walking the journey together on a road that stretches thousands of miles apart, but our footsteps remain in sync,” Sr. Celine said in a report she wrote about the conference. “Our journey is so similar, giving us a prophetic response to a demanding mission of our community.”
Sr. Celine also presented her story and mission. She and Sr. Kathy have given more than 74 presentations about human trafficking at churches as well as civic and community organizations. She also works closely with Eye Heart World, an organization which recently opened The Rose Home, a safe house in Brown County for female victims ages 18-25. The women enter a rehabilitation program that lasts nine to 15 months.
While fighting human trafficking is an ongoing mission, Sr. Celine is looking ahead to January, which is national Human Trafficking Awareness Month, when she hopes to share her message to all who will listen.
In standing up for human dignity, the conference only strengthened her passion for ending human slavery, Sr. Celine said.