Sister Kathleen Power, a Sister of St. Joseph and assistant vocations director for the Diocese of Orlando, Fla., talks with other speakers July 9 during the 2016 conference of the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Orlando. (CNS photo/Andrea Navarro, Florida Catholic)
ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) — The U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph celebrated 50 years of advocating for the dignity of the human person, made in the image of God, with a July 9-12 conference in Orlando.
Over 700 individuals participated in the four-day conference, including college students who attend schools operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph, lay ministers, volunteers, and members and associates of the 16 communities of sisters.
The federation includes the sisters in all the Sisters of St. Joseph congregations in the United States who claim a common origin in the foundation of the religious order at Le Puy, France, in 1650. In the U.S. there are 4,465 sisters, 2,919 associates and 16 congregations.
Officials of the federation say it seeks to be an influence for positive change in the world while the sisters live out their vocation in their everyday ministries. A major commitment of the Sisters of St. Joseph is to improve the lives of survivors of human trafficking — a work that began five years ago in St Louis.
Florida is listed as third in the United States in human trafficking, behind New York and California.
The theme for this year’s conference was, “Our Emerging Story of Being ONE … God’s Love Unfolding,” reflecting the sisters’ charism: to love God and to love their “dear neighbor.”
Presentations focused on raising awareness of labor trafficking and the exploitation of farmworkers. The presentations also showed the participants how to advocate for victims.
Conference leaders gave attendees a call to action: to urge the Wendy’s restaurant chain to join the Fair Food Program launched by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in 2011.
The Fair Food Program is a partnership among farmers, farmworkers and retail food companies that ensures humane wages and working conditions as basic as shade and water for workers who pick fruits and vegetables on participating farms. It gives farmworkers a voice in the decisions that affect their lives and helps eliminate abuses.
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