Last month, Bishop Estevez asked St. Paul’s to participate in a unique and meaningful partnership involving the Avodah Collective and Her Song, to combat the evils of global human trafficking.
The Avodah Collective is a Catholic organization based in Denver whose mission is to provide space for women survivors of sex trafficking, families, and young people to find restoration through the creative act of farming, compassionate and supportive housing, with the integration of teaching and prayer. They currently operate in five cities across the United States.
Her Song is associated with the Tim Tebow Foundation and was founded in 2013 in Jacksonville, operating three residential homes in the region that have assisted more than 1,900 trafficking survivors.
The U.S. Department of Justice calls Interstate 10 a “super highway for human trafficking,” a coast-to-coast “slave route” with proximity to the U.S./Mexico border, the most common entry for international traffickers.
St. Paul’s has been blessed with the opportunity to host four Sisters of St. Louis from the Avodah Collective, who will work with Her Song to minister to local survivors of this inhumane practice.
Sr. Janet, Sr. Rosaline, Sr. Faith and Sr. Bridget opened a shelter for human trafficking survivors in Lagos, Nigeria and operate the home for up to 20 women.
They came to the United States last October to establish a safe home and assist adolescent and adult survivors. Each has amazing educational and training credentials, in addition to their boundless love of God.
After a 30-day discernment period, they will live in the convent and be part of our daily life on the St. Paul’s campus. During the discernment period, parishioners Anne and Jason Spencer and Janine and Mike Ondina have opened their hearts and homes for the Sisters, and Joan and Chuck Wingfield have graciously donated a vehicle for their use.
As parishioners, we ask for your prayers during this discernment period that God will bless the ecumenical partnership between Avodah and Her Song so that the scourge of human trafficking may be defeated in Northeast Florida.
We ask that you pray for the Spencer, Ondina and Wingfield families, who are such a blessing to our parish.
And we ask everyone to warmly welcome the sisters into the St. Paul’s family—invite them to dinner, bring them to social outings and get to know them and their tremendous joy.
The outpouring of generosity and offers of assistance from St. Paul’s parishioners has been overwhelming; we will provide specific guidance on how you can help at the end of the discernment period.