Wisconsin Sister Wears Many Hats to End Human Trafficking

by Emily Anderson, Communications Director, Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother

Sister Celine Goessl’s newest role in her quest to end human trafficking in Wisconsin is that of being an “on-call grandma.”

She was recently asked to help mentor and guide victims of sex trafficking who will reside and heal at the Rose Home, a residential treatment program of Eye Heart World, based in Brown County, Wisconsin.

As always, her answer was “yes.”

“I’ll be a friend, a mentor, a guide…a shoulder to lean on,” said Sister Celine. “I’ll be there for them for whatever they need.”

Sister Celine has been spreading awareness and educating the public about the realities of human trafficking in Wisconsin for nearly ten years. She has been instrumental in educating and training a wide range of professionals, including police, teachers, firemen, EMTs, and medical doctors, nurses and staff. She also speaks to civic groups, community clubs and other parties interested in becoming involved in the movement to eradicate this horrific crime.

“I heard the call of God deep within my heart to do this work,” said Sister Celine. “Then, I hit the road.” She has traveled thousands of miles, primarily across Wisconsin and surrounding states, but as far as St. Louis, Mo., and Baton Rouge, La.

In fact, she recently gave her 70th seminar on human trafficking.

And, she has eight more presentations lined up for 2017, with more requests coming in weekly.

Sister Celine began her ministry in human trafficking in 2008, when she heard one of her fellow Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross speak in Switzerland at their Motherhouse. The Italian Sister urged her fellow members of the Congregation to get out there and help spread awareness of this horrific crime. “During her talk, something sparked in my heart,” said Sister Celine. “I came back to Wisconsin, and began my research immediately.”

When she “retired” from her leadership position with the Holy Cross Sisters in 2012, she was appointed as the U.S. liaison her Congregation’s Anti Human Trafficking Committee, which consists of 14 Sisters representing 14 different countries. This propelled her even further into her new ministry to spread awareness and educate the public about human trafficking, in particular, sex trafficking of children.

One of the pivotal points in her ministry was when she did a seminar at St. John the Baptist Church in Howard, Wis, in early 2016. There were more than 400 attendees from all denominations, and the audience was eager to learn and poised for action. “After that event, there was a swell of consciousness and activity about the issue in Green Bay and the surrounding areas.”

At times, her ministry can be heartbreaking. “There is a deeper tragedy that is happening that is leading to this crime, and that is the breakdown of family life in our culture,” she stated. “So many of our children don’t get the love and attention they need and deserve. This compels me to work even harder to save these children from becoming victims.”

In June of this year, Sister Celine was honored by the Franciscan Federation in Buffalo, N.Y., for her work educating young and old about the dangers and consequences of human trafficking.

At 83 years young, there is nothing that will slow down this amazing Sister in her quest to put a stop to this violent crime against children. Next month, she will travel again to her Motherhouse in Switzerland to meet with the Holy Cross Sisters’ very active Anti Human Trafficking Committee to continue planning initiatives that will spread awareness and help victims and survivors worldwide.

“I’ve been blessed to have the time, energy and backing of my religious community to follow this calling,” said Sister Celine.

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US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking is a 501-c-3 not-for-profit organization. We welcome your tax-deductible contribution to support our work.

New USCSAHT brochure available!

We have just completed production of a new brochure, which provides information on our organization and much more. It highlights the many valuable resources on our website, and provides general information on human trafficking for those who are new to this issue.

Members are encouraged to download and print copies of the brochure, which is 11” x 17”, from the attached pdf file. Help us spread the word far and wide about USCSAHT, and encourage others to support our work!

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