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Weekly Pause & Ponder

Love [people] even in [their] sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you have perceived it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  www.meditations@cac.org


Sex Trafficking

This is a topic that’s difficult to talk about.

As a father with a beautiful daughter of my own, just reading the words “sex trafficking” is enough to turn my stomach.

But I beg you not to turn away. Every single day, innocent and vulnerable Canadian girls are lured into Canada’s rapidly growing underground world of sexual slavery. It’s a psychological game played by master manipulators and the effects are long lasting and deeply damaging.

If you’re having a hard time believing this could happen in Canada, please watch Amy’s story here to see how easy it is to become a victim.

Amy was just like any girl you know – a regular teenager who liked to talk on the phone and hang out with her friends. But like some girls her age, she was gripped with low self-esteem.

Amy yearned for love and approval. She met Ryan and he changed her life, but in the worst way possible. His once kind and thoughtful actions turned into demands and violent threats once he ensnared her in the world of sex trafficking.

These predators are slick manipulators. They understand that many girls can struggle with body image, self-esteem and self-identity. These girls are then vulnerable to luring and falling for a false sense of affection.

Sex trafficking in Canada is primarily a domestic problem. Some 90 per cent of victims are female and most are Canadian girls as young as 13, and on average 17. Police have identified Toronto as a major trafficking hub and estimate the number of victims could be in the thousands. These girls come from all over the country and are from every background. In the last four years, Covenant House has seen a 300-per cent increase in our caseload for victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking.

As a Catholic agency, Covenant House follows the church’s values in our work with the most vulnerable, recognizing the value of each person. Since opening our doors in 1982, we have welcomed almost 95,000 homeless and trafficked young people, ages 16 to 24, from all parts of Ontario, Canada and the world.

When a youth enters our doors, we make a covenant to support them every step of the way to independence. We achieve this with the support of our donors, volunteers and through sector partnerships, however, it mustn’t end there. Broad collaboration amongst community members is essential for ensuring our young people, and victims of sex trafficking in particular, truly receive the wraparound support they need to recover.

In Amy’s case, she had the courage to leave her trafficker on her own and seek out the support she needed to rebuild her life but we can all, as full members of our community, help victims while preventing greater victimization.

We cannot, as people, flourish in isolation and as Pope John Paul II said, “…a community needs a soul if it is to become a true home for human beings.”

It is only together as a community that we can create a home of love and compassion and effectively combat this devastating crime which touches us all.

Please help us raise awareness by educating others about this issue. If you suspect someone is being trafficked or groomed for trafficking, alert your local police.

Guest Bloger Bruce Rivers
Executive Director, Covenant House Toronto





"We Are Not Your Incompetent Children"

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended that Canadians educate themselves about the history of aboriginal people in our Country. Alicia Elliot, a writer from the Six Nations Community located near Brantford, Ontario and author of a forthcoming book: A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, gives us a good starting place in “Finding a Way” published in the January 6, 2018 edition of The Globe and Mail. I lived and worked for many years among the Dene and Metis of the Northwest Territories yet this article caused me to realize that I have failed to fully understand how aboriginal people were left on the sideline as Canada unilaterally made decisions about land ownership, independence, and governance, decisions which had an enormous impact on their lives.

The author describes the frustration, weariness and mistrust among our indigenous population with the many changes to the bureaucracy dealing with aboriginal issues.  Changes have been cosmetic rather than substantive and have failed to alleviate underlying issues.  There are signs of progress:  Universities, school boards, CBC, The Globe and Mail, have invested in educating us.  The Federal Government has initiated many initiatives to right past wrongs, including the division of INAC (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada) in August 2017.  Yet despite its laudable goals, the replacement of INAC was imposed without consultation or involvement of aboriginal organizations. Once again there is denial and lack of consent.

Ms. Elliot compares the “consent and denial” of sexual exploitation highlighted in the “Me Too” movement to the history of indigenous people in our Country.   The author cites concrete examples of the Canadian Government overriding the rights of our 634 First Nations in Canada.  First Nations have been prevented from making meaningful changes in their communities, establishing self-determination, and forging their own futures. The article references land grabs, exploitation of natural resources, and imposition of colonial government.  But it is Elliot’s account of the Six Nations history which makes real for me the injustice of Canada’s actions, provides knowledge of a history I was never taught, and gives insight which renders the anger and frustration of our indigenous population understandable.

I congratulate Alicia Elliot for her article and The Globe and Mail for publishing it.  I recommend that this article be widely disseminated.  You may access it through the link given below.




Weekly Pause & Ponder

Whatever affects one directly, affects all directly.  I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

Martin Luther King Jr.  www.christiananimalethics.com/martin-luther-king-jr-quotes



Faith and Ecology Retreat

“Discipleship for the 21st Century: Living in the Spirit of Laudato Si’”

The retreat will begin on May 28, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. and end Sunday, June 3, 2018, at 1:00 p.m.

Combining spirituality and ecology, this retreat invites us to explore prayerfully and in a practical way, the integral relationship between faith, care for the Earth and for most vulnerable persons. The experience incorporating the beautiful natural setting at Villa St Joseph in Cobourg ON, silent times for reflection, Scripture, the letter of Pope Francis (Laudato Si’) and writings from a wide range of faith traditions will enable us to see these interwoven elements as essential for our call to discipleship in the world today. The retreat will be facilitated by Sisters from across the Canadian Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

All welcome: For further information or to register please contact Sr. Loretta Manzera at the Federation office p: 519-642-7029 or e: can.csj-fed@bellnet.ca

The cost of the retreat is $425 (a deposit of $50 would be required at time of registration. Space is limited.

Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada
Federation Ecology Committee



Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.