This morning, the last day of our mission here at St. Charles Borromeo, the school children were at the 8.30 Mass and participated beautifully in the liturgy. I spoke about St. Josephine Bakhita who was kidnapped and sold into slavery as a 7 year old girl in the Sudan, in Africa, around the year 1876.
She worked around the kitchen, cleaned the house and took care of the younger children of her African slave owners. Later, she was bought from them by a European family living in Africa then, and did the same things for them.
The family moved to Italy and brought Bakhita with them. One of her tasks was to take a younger child of the family to a Catholic school, where he became acquainted with the Daughters of Charity, the religious women who taught there.
When the family decided to return to Africa, Bakhita refused to go. The sisters and others made her aware that she didn’t belong to that family. She was a daughter of God who had rights of her own. In fact, Italian law forbade slavery.
Bakhita was freed and took the name Josephine. She was so impressed with the sisters that she joined their community. She died in Italy in 1947 and was canonized a saint in 2000.
I told the children and others there at Mass that our church upholds human rights. We want all people to enjoy “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Jesus came that people should be free.
Wonderful story to tell children. There should be no slaves in our world. Our church has been given a mission by Jesus: that all have rights to be free, to have a place to live, a family, food, medical care.
St. Josephine lived a holy life till she died. St. Josephine pray for us and help all those who are enslaved. Help us work for human rights.