International Justice Mission of Notre Dame organizes “Night to End Slavery” Prayer Service
Thomas Murphy | Thursday, August 30, 2018
The International Justice Mission of Notre Dame (IJMND) will be holding a “Grotto Prayer Night to End Slavery” prayer service Thursday evening.
Founded in the spring semester of 2018, the organization is a chapter of International Justice Mission (IJM) and seeks to bring an end to modern slavery through prayer, advocacy and fundraising. IJMND co-presidents and sophomores Ella Wood and Malia Marshall said the club hopes in its second year to solidify its place on campus and begin holding regular events.
“We’re hoping to gain a solid membership base, to have a lot of people who are regularly coming to club meetings, basic club stuff like that,” Wood said. “To have people interested, have people talking with their friends, raising awareness … is really important.”
“Hopefully through our events we can also start fundraising more for IJM and the work they’re doing around the world,” Marshall added.
The work of ending modern slavery receives little attention in a country that formally ended slavery over a century and a half ago, Marshall said.
“General slavery now is not something we see in front of us every day,” she said. “In the past, before the Civil War, it was just around people and what they lived around. But now slavery is underground. It’s a huge industry that makes millions of dollars, but it’s underground, at least in the U.S.”
While slavery is still prevalent, “we tend to think of it as a past thing,” Wood said.
“We think the U.S. has been done with slavery since all slaves were emancipated a long time ago. We think that we’re good to go,” she said. “What people don’t know is that sex slavery, forced labor, all of these sorts of things are still a problem. Even in the U.S., but around the world as well.”
Wood said modern slavery should be especially concerning to the Notre Dame community because of the way it violates human dignity.
“As a Catholic school, it’s our calling to promote Catholic Social Teaching … that harkens back to social dignity — protecting it, making sure that everyone in the world has it,” she said. “It seems like something so basic to us because we live with it every day and get upset at even the tiniest infractions. We can’t even imagine having it taken away. Protecting human dignity around the world is the job of everyone. As Notre Dame students, we have a responsibility to care for the world.”
Students in particular have a responsibility to stand in solidarity with victims of modern slavery, Marshall said.
“At school we [students] have a voice that we’re given,” she said. “A lot of people around the world lose their voices as they go into slavery, so we have the chance to raise this topic and to say, ‘This still exists and I want to do something about it and I think it’s important that our government does something about it.’ Around the world there are people who can’t do that and we’re very lucky here at Notre Dame that we have the chance.”
Though students may feel unable to manifest actual change in the world, Wood said there are still ways to take action.
“Every student has, first of all, the opportunity to learn about these issues … there’s a lot of information out there,” Wood said. “Second of all, advocacy doesn’t require you giving money, it just requires making known the fact that you care about slavery. It’s calling your officials, it’s trying to get laws passed in congress that help prevent slavery and prevent the US from giving money to countries where slavery exists.”
Marshall said monetary donations are not the only way to get involved.
“College students — although most of the people at Notre Dame are relatively well off — a lot of them are not necessarily willing to spend money and everyone is super busy. It’s understandable,” she said. “There are a lot of different ways you can help, whether you want to donate money, which is awesome, or whether you just have time to go to a prayer service every now and then.”
Wood said the “Night to End Slavery” prayer service — which will be led by Fr. Timothy Mouton of Fisher Hall and will begin at 8 p.m. — is an important way to begin fighting modern slavery.
“As Christians, we believe that while we are the ones who are God’s hands in the world, we have to ask God for His help so He can then help us along — where to go, where to be to do His work,” Wood said. “Obviously, we can’t hope to end slavery with one prayer night, but [the event is] the beginning to get people interested and get people aware of the problems.”