In 2010, Deacon Fred Molina of Resurrection Parish in Winter Garden was invited to attend a human trafficking awareness session along with the other deacons of the Diocese of Orlando. What he learned that day about the hidden atrocities happening in Florida cities and neighborhoods inspired him to take action.
“I wasn’t aware of what they taught, it caught my attention,” remembers Deacon Molina. “I really didn’t know about human trafficking and the facts were very disheartening. These things bothered me and I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to get involved.”
Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery in which people, often children, are forced into servitude or to perform sexual acts against their will. It is particularly a problem in Florida where the tourism and agriculture industries create a high demand for human trafficking victims and its geographic location makes it easier to bring in people from Latin America and the Caribbean.
After representing the diocese at the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force and attending ongoing trainings with the Department of Justice for several years, Deacon Molina felt called to bring awareness of this serious issue to the parishes and the faithful of the diocese. Training workshops were held in October 2014 with nearly 300 people attending. From those participants looking for the next step the Diocese of Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force has begun to take shape. They will hold their first meeting on August 15: for more information contact Deacon Fred Molina at 352-638-4097 or email@example.com.
“The awareness of how human trafficking has taken hold in the world has become very evident,” says Deacon David Gray, director of the permanent diaconate. “It is clear that there needs to be both an increase in awareness and a plan of action within our communities to address this issue.
“Deacon Molina’s passion to make a difference in this fight against human trafficking has led to a number of key events that has broadened our understanding of the issue and has connected Catholics throughout the diocese to other task forces in the nine counties throughout the diocese.”
Working with county task forces throughout the nine counties of the diocese and with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Coalition of Catholic Organizations against Human Trafficking, the diocesan task force will stay up to date on current legislation and activities happening around the state. Once members receive certification, they are able to offer awareness sessions at area parishes and provide a deeper understanding of the causes of human trafficking, the warning signs and the work that is being done to both rescue and prevent human trafficking.
“People are not supposed to be used and abused as slaves,” says Deacon Molina. “Every human life, every human being is supposed to be treated with respect and dignity.”
What You Can Do To Prevent Human Trafficking
Deacon Gray explains that whether a member of the Diocese of Orlando task force or not, there are ways that everyone can be involved, including:
- Become informed –Read books, watch documentaries, join campus, community/professional anti-trafficking organizations. Attend and/or host Anti-Trafficking briefings or training sessions in the parish or community.
- Become an advocate – Support laws that do not treat victims as criminals and that do address the traffickers and the demand for trafficking.
- Donate or raise funds that support rescue and rehabilitation centers that reach out to those who are trafficked.
- Volunteer your services as a translator, to provide or organize local trainings, or use your professional or specialized skills to help local efforts.
- Pray – This is not a fight we can win without the intercession of the Holy Spirit. Pray for the victims, the traffickers, and our communities.
If you are interested in joining the Diocese of Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force or would like more information, contact Deacon Fred Molina at firstname.lastname@example.org
Christ Calls Us to Care for our Sisters and Brothers
Pope Francis urges all people of good will to take action to stop human trafficking. In his new encyclical, Laudato SÍ, which is about caring for creation, he writes:
“A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted” (#91).