Tuesday 21 July 2020

Josephine Bakhita - Jean Olwen Maynard - CTS Biographies

Josephine Bakhita: A Survivor of Human Trafficking
CTS Biographies
Jean Olwen Maynard
Catholic Truth Society
eISBN 9781784692988
CTS Booklet B667

Over the last few years I have read over 150 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. I have read a six different volumes by Jean Olwen Maynard. And recently I decided it was time to give this one a read. I knew parts of it would not be easy to read, and I was correct. But it was an important read, especially in the world today. Reading this little volume was of great benefit. This book was first published in 2002, revised in 2015, and the eBook was released in 2017. The description of the book is:

“St Josephine Bakhita was a trafficked child: abducted from her home and family by slave raiders, sold and re-sold, and horribly abused. To a succession of cruel owners she was a thing, not a person, and even her name was taken from her. Yet her discovery of Jesus Christ, her true master, gave meaning to her appalling suffering.”

And the chapters are:
What is human trafficking?
Out of Africa
Another Bakhita
Passed from hand to hand
In the house of Our Lord

The beginning of the Introduction states:

“Slavery is supposed to have been abolished, but it’s come back. Today we call it trafficking, and it’s alive and well and thriving in the 21st century. Traffickers prey on the poor and powerless, using force or deception to abduct and imprison them, or otherwise establish control over them and deprive them of any freedom of action. Often the victims are removed to distant places, far from any family members or social networks that could protect them, and it is common practice to smuggle them across national borders. Huge profits are generated for organised crime by exploiting and selling the sexual services, labour and organs of trafficked human beings.

Trafficking wrecks the lives of millions of women and men, girls and boys across the world today. In 2013 a group of religious women met with Pope Francis to ask him to establish a worldwide day of prayer for victims of human trafficking. When he asked them what date they thought would be most suitable, they proposed the feastday of St Josephine Bakhita: 8th February, and so it was agreed. Herself a trafficked child who not only survived to tell her story, but went on to find inner healing and true happiness, Josephine Bakhita brings home to us the horror of trafficking, yet also offers a message of hope to its victims.”

As mentioned, this story was not an easy read. Nor are the new accounts of human trafficking today. But Saint Josephine Bakhita story is one that we should be aware of. And a Saint we should be praying to in these times. The story follows her from a happy childhood, to capture you will read of her changing hands a number of times, and abuses heaped upon her. But you will also read about her becoming a catechumenate. Her love of Jesus. Her devotion to Mary. And her living to serve others, even once she was freed. 

This is a deeply moving and powerful story. It is another great biography from the Catholic Truth Society. An excellent read, I highly recommend it. But not for younger readers. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For other reviews of CTS Biographies click here.

Published work by Jean Olwen Maynard:
Privately published by religious orders/parishes:
Greyfriars Convent, Elgin (2006)
A History of St Mary and St Michael’s Parish, Commercial Road, East London (2007)
Sisters of Mercy Bristol (2008)
150 Years of Mercy: A History of the Sisters of Mercy Commercial Road East London (2009)
The Saint of Hoxton (2011)
Saint Monica’s Church Hoxton Square (2018) 
150th anniversary history brochure for Parish of Guardian Angels, Mile End (2018)
150th anniversary history brochure for Parish of Our Lady and St Catherine of Sienna, Bow (2020) 
Immaculate Heart of Mary and St Dominic, Homerton 1873-2023 – 150 Years: A History of the Parish (2023)

CTS Booklets:
Isidore Bakanja 
Joseph Vaz

Between Christendom and Islam, The Martyr Mystic Christian de Chergé and the Atlas Cistercians in Algeria, in: Catholic in Religious Dialogue: Monasticism, Theology and Spirituality, ed Anthony O’Mahoney and Peter Bowe OSB, Gracewing, 2006
Campaign for the Catholic Workhouse Children, in: British Catholic History, Vol 31: Issue 4 Oct 2015

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