Shelter to offer trafficking victims a safe haven, life and job skills

Friday, May. 19, 2017
By Catholic News Service
BATON ROUGE, La. (CNS) — Pope Francis has targeted eradication of human trafficking as one of his papacy’s highest priorities, and the popular pontiff is hoping the solution runs directly through the Diocese of Baton Rouge.
As testimony to the importance he places on what he calls modern “human slavery,” the pope dispatched one of his top advisers, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez-Sorondo, to Baton Rouge for the dedication of Metanoia Manor, a one-of-a-kind shelter for young trafficking victims.
 Staffed by four Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy, with Sister Normita Nunez as director, the home is the vision of Father Jeff Bayhi, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Zachary and will provide a safe haven for female victims under age 18.
 It will house 16 girls who will be home-schooled as well as taught life skills and job skills. They also will be allowed to stay as long as necessary.
“We need to recognize this crime against humanity and to combat this crime,” Bishop Sanchez-Sorondo said at the April 26 dedication. “I think this is a grace of God to do all we can do to resolve and eradicate this form of slavery.”
Human trafficking has become an international concern, Bishop Sanchez-Sorondo noted, forcing an estimated 50 million victims into prostitution, sex slavery and other abusive behavior. He said 80 percent of the $32 billion generated annually through human trafficking is rooted in prostitution, with some of the girls as young as 12 and 13.
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