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St. Irenaeus Catholic Church Hosts Solidarity Walk to Honor Victims of Human Trafficking

Former Cypress Councilman Mike McGil (back), second row (l-r) Donna Kriesel, Monica Kovach, Carol Reed, Janet Bica, Cypress Mayor Stacy Berry, Terry Arenz; (front) Mary Tkach. Photo by R. Lewallen.

By Rosemary Lewallen

St. Irenaeus Catholic Church hosted Catholic Relief Services’ “Turn on the Light” Solidarity Walk for victims of human trafficking this past Friday Feb. 8 to shine a light on the human toll of human trafficking.

The goal was that through education and prayer, parishioners would take action to fight human trafficking.

The evening was both spiritual and practical in nature with St. Irenaeus’ Parish Administrator Fr. Binh Nguyen welcoming over 60 people, followed by poignant meditational and informational sessions in the church.

Attending the event was State Senator Ling Ling Chang (D-Diamond Bar), Cypress Mayor Stacy Berry, and Cypress Councilman Paulo Morales.

February 8th was both the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking as well as the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of human trafficking victims.

The Los Angeles and Orange County areas are a hotbed of human trafficking; runaway teens are prime victims, as well as kids released from the foster program.

Human trafficking can take the form of forced labor or sexual exploitation; girls as young as eleven are basically sold as sex slaves, the average age of kids trafficked is twelve.

Senator Chang spoke to the group about a bill that she sponsored that reinstated $10 million in funding to help human trafficking victims, offering them legal services and assisting in finding them internships.

Senator Chang has also initiated a Bill to form a Human Trafficking Task Force (SB-35) to get data and demographics on trafficking to help identify and combat it.

If you have any questions, contact Monica Kovach, Health Ministry Facilitator at 310-490-6113.