Sister Margaret Nacke works to unite others against human trafficking

December 26, 2012 by

Article courtesy of the Sisters of St. Joseph Federation

Sister Margaret Nacke gives a presentation on human trafficking at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene Dec. 4 as part of the Kansas Town Hall series.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery.  While many find it hard to believe that slavery exists in the United States, Catholic sisters know that it is all too real. They continue to organize to affect the problem at the local, state, national and international level.  A new website, created by a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia, pools their knowledge and seeks to expand the circle of people involved in this critical issue for our time.

Sister Margaret Nacke’s  ongoing interest in the many ways that women are oppressed, from her experience at a shelter for abused women to her work with oppressed sisters in Eastern Europe, has helped her to see the underlying issues that make human trafficking the scourge that it is. Standing for the dignity of the person and working to alleviate the oppression of women has led her to this next phase of her life’s work.

Sister Margaret, who lives in Belleville, Kan., founded the Bakhita Initiative. Its goals are to create a specific nationwide network of Catholic Sisters involved in efforts to end human trafficking. She wrote for a grant that enable her to develop a database that includes 90 congregations of sisters, networks and collaborations where there is a strong presence of sisters who address human trafficking. Then she created a website that can connect these efforts.

Now the project hopes to expand resources, encourage congregations to become more involved with efforts to end human trafficking, and engage a broader circle of people to work together. This circle can share resources, identify areas that are resource poor, strengthen connections across geographic areas,  and educate people about this modern day tragedy.

Sister Margaret notes that many sisters have been educators all their lives. Her involvement in the eradication of human trafficking began when she took it upon herself to use those skills to educate a broader public about human trafficking. She says she has found a receptive audience for the more than 30 public talks she has given so far. Many senior citizens are concerned for their grandchildren, who are so vulnerable to strangers on the internet. Sister Margaret believes that the Sisters of St. Joseph can make a big difference by bringing this message to junior and senior high schools.

The website contains information to help sisters and the general public becomes educated about human trafficking.  It has links to wonderful tools and processes for schools and parishes.

The project gets its name from Sister Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave-turned-nun who was kidnapped at the age of 7, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita. Josephine was sold several times and was brutally treated until she eventually met and joined the Canossian Daughters of Charity in 1893. At her canonization Mass in 2000, John Paul II said, “The history of her life inspires not passive acceptance but the firm resolve to work effectively to free girls and women from oppression and violence and to return them to their dignity in the full exercise of their rights.”

The website can be found at

More from Sister Margaret Nacke:

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking month.

We commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation that became effective on Jan. 1, 1863, and the 13th Amendment that was sent to the states for ratification in February 1865. Slavery supposedly was abolished. Today, however, slavery is very much alive throughout the world, including the United States, which is considered the #1 destination for child sex trafficking (State Dept. Bureau of Justice Statistics 2008). Trafficking tears at the social fabric of society and is the great human rights issue of our time. To confront this evil, we must stand together.

The Heartland is not immune from this assault on the dignity of persons. The internet, valuable though it may be, acts as a global brothel. It allows for the buying and selling of persons — most often young women and young girls. Human trafficking victims cannot walk away. They are exploited and held in service through force and fear.  Last year in Kansas there were 636 reported runaways. They live on the street and within 48 hours of living on their own, one-third are recruited into prostitution.

For group presentations: Sister Margaret Nacke



One Response to “Sister Margaret Nacke works to unite others against human trafficking”

  1. Loretta A. Jasper, csj on December 18th, 2012 6:00 am

    thanks, Margaret for participating in the CSJ Senate Enactment related to Human Sex Trafficking.

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