Caritas Nigeria marks Feast of St. Bakhita
Caritas Nigeria marked the feast of St. Barkhita, Patron saint of victims of human Trafficking and those who fight to combat it, with special activities in different parts of the country.
At St. Gabriel’s Chaplaincy Durumi, Abuja, domicile of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria and its allied agencies, the afternoon mass was well attended by staff of the Secretariat and members of the catholic community in the neighbourhood.
Caritas Nigeria Executive Secretary, Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey delivered a very touching homily that expounded the life and virtues of Josephine Margaret Barkhita, an African from Sudan who suffered the travails of child abduction and sale into slavery and an eventual conversion into Christianity in Italy where she died as a Catholic nun. During the mass, a special intercessory prayer composed to mark the annual event was recited by all and afterwards, a set of candles were lit at the altar by selected members of the community.
In Benin City, Edo State, the base of the Anti-human trafficking program, Caritas Nigeria collaborated with COSUDOW (Committee for the Support of the Dignity of Women), JDPC Benin and the parish JDPC of St Paul’s Catholic Church. Activities began with intercessory prayers and a candle light procession from the church to the King’s Square, the heart of the town.
With over 70 persons in attendance and adequate police security coverage, the occasion provided an avenue to raise awareness on human trafficking as well as enlighten the public on the bitter reality of life in Europe for those held in captivity over illegal migration and human trafficking-related offences.
The feast of St. Barkhita is commemorated February 8 every year. The date is marked officially in the church as INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER AND AWARENESS AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING. The institutionalization of this feast day is part of the achievements of Caritas Nigeria who has been in the vanguard in the fight against human trafficking in Africa and beyond. St Barkhita is the Patron Saint of Sudan and is very popular in most African countries including Nigeria.