Forced to beg, working in slavery conditions, sexually abused, sold to the army and for matrimonial purposes, deprived of body organs – they belong to 27 million women, men and children on whose behalf ‘God asks: where is my slave brother and sister? We cannot pretend that we know nothing (…). We cannot be indifferent which is humiliating’ (pope Francis).

Friday, 4 February 2017, Warsaw, the basilica of the Holy Cross. The church of hospitable Missionaries Priests gathers people at various age – students, nuns, monks. Families, priests, elderly people. In darkness the church is getting filled quickly. They have arrived from: Katowice, Łódź, Przemyśl, Kraków, Grodzisko Mazowieckie, Gdańsk, Drohiczyn – from the near and the far for the night re-action. Among them there are volunteers who have their assigned task for this night – some are greeting guests, others are taking care about the order, preparing the liturgy, hot tea and coffee, and are reliable as usually.

Nobody wants to be indifferent to violence and cruelty. What should our reaction be like towards evil done? MERCIFULNESS!

A lot of visitors joined the nationwide initiative ‘Change the night into the power of mercifulness!’ every month. Every first Saturday at 3 a.m. a prayer for mercifulness was said in the intention of victims and culprits of their suffering. Now, it is the first time, participants of this initiative have been together. They see their faces. They see how many of them there are. They know that even if there were only a few of them, their prayer will have POWER. Also sisters from cloistered congregations and those who could not arrive for various reasons.

Why night?

s. Joanna lipowska FMM, the chairperson of the Bakhita Network answers: - A lot of evil is committed at night. Victims experience the worst humiliation. At night tears of shame, torment, helplessness are flowing, tears of nostalgia for lost freedom. At night there are struggles and spiritual fights…. But we believe that the world and all kinds of authority and power belong to God! Therefore at night we get up and say a prayer so that the power of merciful God would reveal in the life of all enslaved people.

Lord, I am entering Your presence….

The Eucharist begins in the intention of everybody from 27 million sisters and brothers, who were deprived of the most valuable gifts – freedom and dignity, which God did not take away from the man even after the first sin! – Jesus wanted to be a slave to identify himself with everyone of those little – said bishop Grzegorz Ryś to the gathered with whom he was praying. – It is important that each of us would get belief from Jesus about dignity of everybody who is a slave today. We are here – said the Bishop – to ask that the suffering of our brothers would become a paschal event. We are here to see our responsibility in the light of the Word: Has anybody said anything? Has anybody protested? Has anybody prevented this event when there was still time? Has anybody come out?

Arek, a participant of the vigil, moved by the word of the Gospel and homily, shared his reflection: ‘St. John the Baptist was killed ‘because of fun and dance’. I thought about how much ‘fun’, often accepted by the society, causes slavery and even death of others.

The Hour of Voice – let their cry become ours

The participants of the vigil showed their respect and great concentration when listening to testimonies of 5 people, abused, destroyed and overused in various ways by egoism of others. These people did not arrive personally, it was impossible. They were deprived of their names, faces, and, instead they are struggling with their painful memories, despite the passing time they live in fear. That evening they wanted to share their thoughts. They gave the participants of the vigil their most painful secrets.

Volunteers used their voices, so that the victims could tell us about their tragedies which they had experienced.

Every testimony was accompanied by prayers of participants of the vigil. – Our consideration and though can also comprise so many women, men and children whose life was burdened by slavery, in its various forms (…), whose pain was not cuddled and tears are not consoled – Justyna and s. Joanna FMM were encouraging for a prayer. So, a fervent prayer of solidarity, shared pain and sympathy flowed towards Crucified Jesus. Hands were raised high and words were said: ‘Father, here are Your children, not slaves’, which made an impression and were piercing through hearts.

The last testimony was the voice of s. Anna Bałchan SMI, running the Association for Help and Power. The sister serves to women every day – the victims of violence, prostitution and trade. Her moving testimony, full of simplicity and particular things, can be summarized in the sentence: the man is to be loved, not to be used.

I have always thought that such things happen in other countries, the poorer ones (…). Now I see how wrong I was – said Dominika (aged 17), a participant of the vigil.

I have not been aware how serious and universal danger is the trade of people. Only when did I get engaged in the project of the Bakhita network, I began to be aware of it – a volunteer Maciek admitted.

It is ‘better’ to live in unawareness but now I know that I have a possibility to do something for this matter – said a participant of the vigil (by accident) as he defined it.

Change shackles of slavery into the burden of friendship

For this matter one can do something at once. Participants of the vigil could undertake spiritual adoption with a prayer for one of people experiencing the painful process of getting healed from experiences of slavery in protected houses. The message: ‘I am with You; I remember; I pray for You’ – will get to people in: Poland, Germany, Romania, Albania, Italy and Kenya thanks to the Bakhita Network. The symbol of this adoption were joined armbands, one of which was given to every participant of the meeting, another one – was given to a person, accompanied spiritually by a participant of the vigil for the nearest year.

– I have undertaken prayer of solidarity (…), I will try to persist. I saw a lot of people coming up to receive somebody in prayer (…). We can be one in love to the man, which would not be possible without God’s love and grace – emphasized a participant of the vigil meeting.

An hour of Mary

– On a painful way of victims of trade of people there must be Mary – Mother of tender love, Mother of mercifulness, Mother of consolation – said Paulina from the Alliance of Mercifulness. Reflecting on sorrowful mysteries of Christ’s Road and of roads of violence victims interweaved into one sorrowful reality. The prayer of Psalms, painting with sand and moving music of the betrayal scene, whipping, humiliation and pain and other testimonies took participants of the vigil into the mystery of suffering to which one can respond only with a prayer. – Prayer is a great rescue for people who do not have any hope – noted Aneta (aged 17) from Przemyśl.

Thanks to Your Blood I live in light!

This is an hour of adoration and worship of God in His goodness, care, in His way of reaching to all contemporary slaves, breaking their yoke of slavery. It is just a suitable moment to call them so that their sufferings would become a paschal event. Fr. Janusz Chwast OP and the Community of a good villain, responsible for this time, help the participants of the vigil enter the open Heart of God who reliably leads everyone out of every house of slavery. Not only slaves need healing. We hear: - Every man has got a wound for healing, shame for cuddling, dignity for redeeming, poverty which cries for mercifulness.

The crowning of the vigil was a prayer which has united people for many years, in their calling for the contemporary slaves – the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The prayer for God’s mercifulness was flowing not only from the basilica. This hour united a lot of people who could not arrive at Warsaw that day.

The vigil ended but the desire to be close to enslaved sisters and brothers brings hope that the participants of the vigil will change many more nights into the Power of Mercifulness.

Everyone who is touched by the fate of enslaved brothers and sisters and wants to join the prayer action, is invited by the Bakhita Network to send his/ her desire on: www.siecbakhita.com.

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The Bakhita Network for Violence Prevention and Helping the Victims of the Contemporary Slavery Forms for the Conference of the Superiors of Feminine Convent Congregations is an inter-convent network of cooperation and support, aimed at preventing the trade of people and helping victims of the procedure.


„Niedziela” 08/2017

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl