2022 Assembly


Bakhita Day reflections: Spain


Report by Sr. Begoña Iñarra

“Weaving Networks” for the eradication of human trafficking organized a “circle of silence” (1 hour prayer)

Marifran Sánchez with the other members of “Weaving Networks”, a Spanish network at national level with: Caritas, Justice and Peace, the Conference of Religious (CONFER) and the department against human trafficking of the Spanish Episcopal Conference organized a “Circle of silence” online ( ) the 21st of January to pray for victims and perpetrators of Human Trafficking .

This was the poster to announce it:

The Vigil of St Bakhita in MADRID organized by the Madrid Diocesan Comission against Human trafficking of which Pilar González Cano, Maria Francisca (Marifran) Sánchez and Begoña Iñarra are members.

The Vigil on St. Bakhita day, 8 February 2023 was celebrated in most Spanish dioceses. The Commission against Human Trafficking of the Archidioceses of Madrid (of which both Pilar Gonzalez Cano and Begoña Iñarra are members), organized the prayer in St Cayetano parish in the heart of the traditional borrough of Madrid. There were about 80 people in attendance. It was very symbolic, with a young lady and a man representing the victims of human trafficking and two other women and twomen representing the perpetrators. These ones tied a big belt around the victims with pieces from where they hung different ribbons  that had written in big letters.

A beautiful image of St. Bakhita was at the center.

We put up four posters with the words “freedom and dignity”, “care paths and dignity”, “care pathways”, “inclusion” and “empowerment”, which we will use in the third stage of our journey.

Throughout the prayer service, we made a representation to help us better visualise and become aware of what “binds” the victims of trafficking, the chains that prevent them from living in freedom. In the first stage: eyes open, we met the victims and their perpetrators. A woman and a man put themselves in the “skin” of the victims, while three men and women represented the perpetrators. These, tied a big belt around the victims and hungribbons from it containing the words: WAR, VIOLENCE, POVERTY, RAPE, ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS and ECONOMIC CRISIS. A big candle was lit at the feet of St. Bakhita. While the group came slowly walking from the door to the middle of the Church, the assembly listened to the readings, prayed, kept silent and sung. We let ourselves be provoked, engaged, touched by their lives. We placed them in the presence of God and we prayed for the HEALING of the victims and the CONVERSION of the perpetrators, asking God to accompany their processes.

2nd stage: attentive heart to DISCOVER the daily paths of thousands of people in search of freedom and dignity, paths of care, inclusion and empowerment. Four people took the posters next to the image of St. Josephine Bakhita with the words “FREEDOM AND DIGNITY”, “PATHS OF CARE”, “INCLUSION” and “EMPOWERMENT” and went to meet the group of victims and perpetrators and accompanied them towards the altar. The 2nd candle was lit at the foot of the image of St. Bakhita. The assembly prayed for the men and women in the Church who want to discover the paths of our brothers and sisters who are caught in the chains of war, violence, poverty, rape, environmental climate and economic crises, and seek freedom and dignity, ways of care, inclusion and empowerment, listened to God’s Word, kept a prayerful silence and sung.

3rd stage: guiding our feet to PROMOTE anti-trafficking actions that make us rediscover dignity, awaken joy and liberate hope, letting ourselves be inspired by the youth creativity and spiritual strength. Some people from those assembled together went towards the group of victims and perpetrators to untie the ribbons: war, violence, poverty, rape, environmental crisis and economic crisis, which oppress them as victims of trafficking. At the same time those carrying the words “freedom and dignity”, “pathways of care”, “inclusion” and “empowerment” lift them up and when all the ribbons are untied, they put them back at St. Bakhita’s feet in front of the altar. A pair of SANDALS is brought to the altar as a symbol of our walking with integrity in total respect for the unshakeable dignity of the human being and the love of God. After the reading of the Word of God, those assembled together asked the God of tenderness to teach us to welcome the pain of so many victims and to accompany the healing processes of the survivors.

4th stage: Stage 4: Join hands walking together to BUILD a culture of encounter that leads to the conversion of inclusive hearts and societies, capable of unmasking stereotypes and protecting the rights of every person. On the altar are the two people who represent survivors of trafficking, six the perpetrators, five who help to untie what oppresses and four who represent “freedom and dignity”, “pathways of care”, “inclusion” and “empowerment”. They and all those assembled together joined hands and formed a circle around the altar. The image of St. Bakhita with the symbols and the candles lit are at the centre of the circle, where the symbol of this 4th stage, the GOSPEL is brought in and placed at the feet of St. Bakhita. This showed our commitment to let ourselves be enlightened by the power of the Word. At the end of the vigil St. Bakhita’s song accompanied our greetings and embraces as we bid each other farewell.

Begoña Iñarra in the name of the RENATE members from Spain.

In conjunction with this event, Sr. Begoña Iñarra, on behalf of the Human Trafficking Commision of Madrid Archdiocese, will also travel on February 21st to Montpellier College, to talk with 2 classes of secondary school boys and girls about human trafficking and advise them on their end of year school projects.