As a Church, we react to human suffering and try to aid those in need. However, many in Wisconsin are not aware of a pervasive blight in our state that preys upon women, children, and men. It coerces and tricks individuals into performing uncompensated work often in degrading circumstances and with dangerous consequences. This scourge is human trafficking, and it is on the rise in Wisconsin and throughout our nation.
Many believe human trafficking is a problem that only exists in other places, such as garment factories in Asia or brothels in Eastern Europe. Those who have experienced human trafficking know it is happening in many areas along major highways in our state. Where there is a major concert event, festival, or sporting event – there is human trafficking. Where there are individuals struggling with addiction, abuse, or isolation – there is human trafficking.
If you doubt this, I encourage you to join me for an event on March 28 and hear from Colleen Stratton. Colleen is a wife, mother, writer, and survivor of human trafficking. Her compelling story will provide insight into one of the gravest offenses against the human family. However, her keynote address will also be a story of hope. One that shows how, with God’s love, we can aid those suffering in the shadows.
Colleen is the keynote speaker for Catholics at the Capitol 2017, an event hosted by the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, along with many other Catholic organizations. This daylong event in Madison gives living witness to our Catholic presence, not just in the fight against human trafficking, but in all matters that affect the life and dignity of the human person. Catholics at the Capitol takes place every two years at the outset of our Legislature’s biennial session and provides an opportunity to better understand the Church’s teaching as it applies to public policy in Wisconsin. Catholics representing the five dioceses of Wisconsin come together at this unique event to share in fellowship and formation.
The day will begin as we begin all things – in prayer. The Morning Prayer service is followed by the keynote address and breakout sessions, which will examine ways to foster ethical research, address poverty, aid the immigrant and refugee, heal the pain of racism, ensure access to clean water, and promote quality education.
Experts from around the state will be on hand to examine issues that advance the common good and offer suggestions on how to engage in effective advocacy. As our public policy voice, the WCC staff will also highlight certain provisions within the state’s proposed biennial budget and offer tips on meeting with lawmakers, which all are encouraged to do at the conclusion of the day’s events.
It’s a truly unique experience. One where Catholics throughout the state – parish and diocesan staff, religious men and women, Vincentians, Knights of Columbus, Councils of Catholic Women, Catholic school leaders and students, health care leaders, advocates, Catholic media, college students, and individual Catholics – come together to witness with a common Catholic voice. It is the Body of Christ made visible to all.
Whether you have gone before or have never been, please join me for this day of prayer, formation, and advocacy. Come to Catholics at the Capitol on March 28! Registration and detailed information is available at www.wisconsincatholic.org.
+James P. Powers
Bishop of Superior