Cleveland — After Sr. Angélica Segoviano, an Oblate of the Most Holy Redeemer, wakes up at 5 a.m. and gets dressed for the day in Guatemala City, she goes to the chapel for an hour of silence. Here is where she restores her mind and heart, she says, a form of self-care and preparation for what awaits her that day.
Then she visits the brothels.
Introducing herself as a social worker to the man in charge, Segoviano is able to visit the women who are prostituted, gaining their trust before they open up to her about their lives and worries. They often ask her to pray with them so that they get clients that day, which to them means being able to feed their children or care for their sick mother.
"They give me the money and say, 'Buy medicine for my son, buy his diapers, buy him milk,' " Segoviano says. "And I say, 'What about for you?' 'No, nothing. For my children. Take it, please.' "
Though Segoviano's typical daily ministry is done solo, the Central American anti-trafficking network of women religious, Red Ramá, provides her and other sisters in this ministry with training and formation, including news and information on the issue in her region.
Similar networks of women religious combating human trafficking dot the globe, united under the umbrella of Talitha Kum, an intercongregational network of networks that facilitates collaboration between consecrated men and women in 76 countries. (Next year is its 10th anniversary.)
At a Cleveland retreat center Oct. 24-27, the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking network brought together women religious throughout the Western Hemisphere to connect on their shared ministry. Presentations from all the networks, survivors as guest speakers, virtual classes, and group reflections allowed participants to share best practices and strengthen connections across borders.
"You can talk to them on the phone, that's one thing," said Margaret Nacke, a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia and a co-sponsor of the U.S. network. "But what this has given us is a flavor, to look at who we are together in this hemisphere and how we can help one another."