{presentation text} Thank you, Father. I am Lisa Murphy, and I have been a parishioner here since 2006 when my husband and I converted to Catholicism. We have five beautiful children who all came to us through adoption. I am also the founder of Open Hearts for Orphans, our family’s beauty from ashes ministry formed in 2016 in memory of our precious little angel in Heaven named Daniel.


In the two years we’ve been at it, thanks to your generosity and many others, we’ve been able to issue 14 of our “Say Yes” adoption grants, we’ve helped fund heart surgeries for orphans, we’ve provided life-saving medical equipment for orphans, we've saved lives through orphan prevention, we’ve met the most basic of needs, we’ve advocated for special needs children, and most recently – we’ve begun an orphan sponsorship program.


In these recent months, the Lord has laid a two-word burden very heavily on my heart: child trafficking. And when I asked Monsignor Tom if there was a particular area in which he wanted us to focus this year, he replied asking me to touch upon “the numerous orphans that fall into the hands of human trafficking.” I knew the Holy Spirit was calling us to this cause.


If I’m being real, I struggled with what to say today. Those two words (and what lies behind them) are so incredibly hard to digest. As busy people, most of us live our days trying to bury issues like this because they are just so sickening to think about.
 
Not surprisingly, orphaned children are among the most at-risk population to be preyed upon. The possibilities for abuse are frightening. Children are sold as cheap labor. Some may end up in the dark world of prostitution, their innocence torn from them. There are even stories of traffickers harvesting human organs for sale on the black market. Children like yours and mine. Children like your grandchildren.
 
Children in orphanages can be easy targets for traffickers. They are especially vulnerable due to the lack of stable parental figures. The schedules and isolation of orphanages makes it easy to coerce children to leave and find ways to exploit them. Even when orphaned children age out of an institution, vulnerability continues as some of these evildoers will sit and wait for those children to leave.


What we can express with confidence is that God designed the family as the best environment for children. Safe, permanent, loving family must be our goal whenever possible. And when it isn’t, we must support solutions that are as close to that as possible, such as foster care. When a child experiences the protection and love of at least one consistent, caring adult relationship, evildoers are far less likely to pursue them.


Child trafficking is a documented global problem that defies borders. This evil does not discriminate in age, race, or skin color. In fact, 170 countries have now engaged in the war and according to UNICEF, over 1 million children are victims each year. If we care about human trafficking, we must care for orphaned children and foster youth wherever the need may be.


I know it's easy to sit here and wonder how we can even make a dent in this issue. I’m here to give you my commitment to stand up to child trafficking and fight for those kids. But I need your help. Because I might have the passion, but I don’t have the money.
All of the funds raised this weekend will be used for the sole purpose of prevention through stable foster care programs and healing of victims of through successful safe havens created to protect God’s children.
 
In the midst of such devastating circumstances, these children must feel so forgotten, but we know that our Lord’s heart must truly break over the injustices they suffer. WE are the hands and feet here on earth, friends. Please help us defend these vulnerable children!
In addition to your donations, we are seeking monthly sponsors for the twelve children in foster care who've been designated to OHFO. We’d like them to stay there. If you sign up, we’ll send you home with a heart full of hope and a special photo to pray for and remember your child. We’ll also provide you with a “Thanks-for-giving” family discussion guide that will make this Thanksgiving one of your most meaningful. Please keep the forgotten ones in your prayers.


You have my heartfelt thanks for your continued support of our missions. Thank you and God bless.

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Orphan Sunday 2018