| July 7, 2017 | The Catholic Spirit

Working with women who’ve been trafficked can take a toll on those who hear their stories and try to help them rebuild their lives.

That’s why staff members from two Minnesota organizations that work with victims of sex trafficking and other violent crimes gathered at the Carondelet Center in St. Paul June 2-3 for a necessary break.

Ten women from Breaking Free in St. Paul and one from Terebinth Refuge in St. Cloud attended an overnight self-care retreat hosted by Congregation of St. Joseph Sisters, Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Lay individuals and organizations donated money to make the retreat possible.

The all-female staff received massages, created “truth boards” meant to help them examine their lives, journaled and prayed together, all while receiving support from parishioners of Annunciation in Minneapolis, St. Ambrose in Woodbury and St. Peter in Richfield. The latter two made prayer shawls for the women.

“In a small way, we’re trying to support them and [are] encouraging them to take care of themselves,” said Marty Roers, co-director of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet’s Justice Office. “Not only did they take care of themselves, but it also helps them to work better together as a team and better serve the people they’re working with.”

Throughout the retreat, Annunciation parishioners prayed for participants, and the nine retreat leaders read notes from parishioners of all three churches, letting the women know of their support for them. At the end of the retreat, each participant received at least a dozen prayer notes; one Breaking Free staff member posted them all in her office and reads them regularly.

“These were powerful. We don’t get thank-yous for what we do — ever,” said Terry Forliti, executive director of Breaking Free, whose staff members often speak in Catholic parishes and schools.

The Congregation of St. Joseph sisters hosted the retreat to coincide with its 10th anniversary. Planning began last September after each province was encouraged to coordinate a service project.

Although the timing of the retreat — the weekend of Pentecost — was coincidental, leaders wanted to maximize the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Read the full article on The Catholic Spirit website at: http://thecatholicspirit.com/news/local-news/religious-sisters-host-retreat-women-working-trafficking-victims/ 

July 11th, 2017