The following comes from a Rorate Caeli blog post:
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” (Mark 9: 37).
In our day, a well-formed Catholic can see the attack on the family from rampant lust: The objectification of women, artificial contraception, abortion, pornography, and prostitution. The gift of procreation — the greatest gift to our nature — suffers under this vice. It has broken lives through the centuries and today lust is even more free to break souls. The counter attack is to build up the family, live the virtues of modesty and chastity, and work for a virtuous culture.
One group that suffers the most, that are the most broken, are the sex trafficked. These are people who have been coerced – usually psychologically – into prostitution. And often the initial entrapment occurs during the teenage years — 15 years old is the average initial age. Trafficking does occur, but is it really a big problem? In larger cities it is on par with professional sports — hundreds of millions of dollars per year. In a city like San Diego, a recent study estimated 4,000 to 8,000 people working today in the sex industry have been trafficked. It is a big business that benefits from using the young.
Usually, sex trafficking is thought of as smuggling people from oversees – these are the stories that make it into the news. The reality is that 70% of the trafficked are US citizens. Why, then, don’t they just leave? The trafficker ensnares them by manipulating and exploiting their vulnerabilities, leaving them no way out of the life. With nobody else in their life who shows any care, the trafficked victim has no place else to go. What can be done?
In the mid-1600’s, St. John Eudes encountered a similar difficulty in France. When preaching his missions, he would hear confessions and had many penitent women coming to him, wanting to leave their life of prostitution, but who had nowhere to go. He encountered so many women that a congregation of religious women was established to house, serve, and evangelize these penitent women. The community was called the Institute of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge. All the women seeking refuge at the house were greeted by religious sisters bound by a fourth vow — to work with all of their might for the conversion of their penitents. It was a vow the saint often summarized as zeal for souls.
Today, a woman at the FSSP parish in San Diego, Grace Williams, is working for the salvation of these souls. She has discerned a call from God and is inflamed with a zeal for these souls – doing today for the sex trafficked what St. John Eudes did in the 17th century. Three years ago in 2013, she founded a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called Children of the Immaculate Heart. They are helping three adult women and their ten children transition from the life. It is a difficult process. The women have no job skills and have endured years of psychological manipulation. They need housing, therapy, and education. It is sex trafficked minors, however, that are the aspiration of Children of the Immaculate Heart.
Grace’s goal is to open a residential treatment facility for sex trafficked minor girls in the next year.
These are girls 14 to 17 years old who have been manipulated into the life of prostitution and have no way out. Even in California there are no programs to help these girls. If they do appear in the juvenile court system, there is often a short jail time and they are back on the streets. It usually takes a few years for a girl to recover from being trafficked. A facility is needed to offer a live-in safe environment with counseling and high school education. This is critical need not only in San Diego but every city in the country.
Grace has lived under a private vow of chastity, obedience and Christian simplicity for the past three years, but her ultimate desire — if it is God’s Will — is a congregation of women religious dedicated to the sex trafficked. The congregation would be attached to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite.
It would be independent of the FSSP, but share in the liturgical life at the FSSP parish in San Diego. Until that time she will continue working with those souls most broken by the lust in our society.
To make a tax-deductible donation to Children of the Immaculate Heart, please click here.
Any young lady interested in testing this active vocation is welcome to contact Grace and schedule a visit. She can be reached at childrenoftheimmacualteheart AT gmail.com or (619) 431-5537
More information about this special work can be found on website of Children of the Immaculate Heart.