By Sister Judith Sheridan smsm
Bridget Stephenson is a Senior at Classical Academy High School who has become a champion for victims of human trafficking. After educating herself of the horrors and reality, she knew that she needed to educate her classmates. Bridget started an anti-trafficking club at her school to do awareness education and to support Mary’s Guest House and other victims, by fundraising, outings, and friendship.
I am also a “senior” – having been a Marist Missionary Sister for 56 years now! I am presently serving as the Director of Mary’s Guest House shelter for victims of human trafficking. We two "Seniors" spent two days at Mater Dei High School leading the 150 members of Senior classes in awareness of trafficking and how they can help their fellow friends and classmates to keep safe.
Seeing us side by side as co-presenters was enough of a novelty to get their attention. Hearing the passion of Bridget and seeing her PowerPoint and club portfolio challenged them to ask what they could do. “Sister” exhorted them to be counter cultural: to make “respect” for boys and for girls and for their sexuality a mission. How do they talk about one another? What do they ask each other to do? e.g. post naked photos to boyfriends?, casual use of pornography?, etc. All of these actions contribute to the evil of human trafficking. We need to support each other in taking a stand as Catholics for respect in a Society which is degrading sexuality.
A group of students signed up for Human Trafficking as a Justice project. They will try to spread awareness in the school through messages at tables in the court yard at lunch break, offering to give presentations in their underclassmates’ religion classes, doing fundraising for Mary’s Guest House on internet and selling T-shirts.
It was a two-day marathon with 7 hours of input but was met with such an enthusiastic response that we knew this was a “moment whose time had come.”
Stay Committed, Mater Dei Seniors, we are depending on you to carry the message! It is especially important since Sexual exploitation of children (minors under17) puts San Diego in the top 3 offenders in the U.S.
Hope we can continue this campaign with other schools and to help make our young people champions for a better world. Thank you Mater Dei, and the Teacher who made this possible, Ms. Dalene Ditammaso.