This year’s Faith Formation Conference (FFC) is being held in conjunction with the National Catholic Conference for Youth Ministers (NCCYM), Connect in Christ, at the San Jose Convention Center from December 1-3. In preparation for this joint conference, the focus of the Catholic Network to End Human Trafficking (CNEHT) for the past year has been working with the high school youth in our Diocese and helping them to address the issue of human trafficking.
To that end, CNEHT will hold a pre-conference workshop on Human Trafficking featuring youth from our Catholic High Schools. The students will hold a panel discussion on human trafficking and talk about some of the projects they have been working on both inside and outside the classroom. We encourage those of you attending either or both conferences, whether you are a youth minister, student, teacher, parishioner, or just an interested citizen, to register for workshop P-06, “Human Trafficking: Our Modern Slavery” on Thursday, December 1 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon to hear directly from these students about their projects.
In 2016 each issue of CNEHT’s Network News featured stories from our Catholic High School students who have been working to address this important issue. The following are highlights from some of these stories and a preview of the type of human trafficking projects you will learn more about at our pre-conference workshop.
Joaquin Schmidt, now a senior at Bellarmine College Prep, will be back to participate in this year’s pre-conference workshop on human trafficking, just as he did at the 2014 and 2015 Faith Formation Conferences. During his sophomore year at Bellarmine, Joaquin joined other students and teachers who formed the Justice League. When he joined, Joaquin says, “I didn’t really know much about human trafficking. But plenty of opportunities came up.” After helping at the 2014 FFC, Joaquin and CNEHT’s Sr. Marilyn Wilson shared their experiences in front of the Bellarmine student body during the school’s Justice Summit Week.
Vedya Konda, currently a sophomore at Archbishop Mitty High School, will join fellow student da-Sol Kim to participate in the pre-conference workshop. She is part of the Mitty Advocacy Project. Last January, Vedya took part in Mitty’s Social Media Youth Campaign. The two-hour awareness campaign was organized for Bay Area Catholic Youth to bring tablets, laptops, and other electronic devices to Mitty to help spread online awareness for two hours prior to Super Bowl 50 last January at Levi’s Stadium.
Mikaela Fenton, a panelist at the 2015 FFC will also return this year. Now a senior at Notre Dame High School, Mikaela is on the leadership team for the SAMS club (Students Against Modern Slavery) where she has developed numerous projects and events to educate fellow students about human trafficking. Mikaela is currently working with fellow classmate Caroline Chmielewski-Anders on their Senior Service Project by creating a video documentary in which they interviewed leaders in our community who are working to end human trafficking. The students hope to show a preview of their video at this year’s pre-conference workshop.