by Sister Maryann Agnes Mueller, CSSF
(reprinted with permission from January 2020 “STOP Trafficking!”)
“As I reflect back over the years of this ministry of preparing issues of “STOP Trafficking!” it reminds me of the parable of the mustard seed – a small first step that grew and grew into a large network of persons and organizations able to use the information in the newsletter to spread the awareness of and convince others that they too can be involved in anti trafficking efforts wherever they are. I am so grateful for that growth!”
Jean Schafer, SDS, founder of “STOP Trafficking!” Newsletter, has retired from the newsletter she has published for the past 17 years.
Jean is a member of the Sisters of the Divine Savior (SDS Salvatorian Sisters) and currently resides in California. In 1989 she was elected Superior General of the Congregation’s 1200 members serving in 27 countries. She served in that capacity for 12 years.
As a member of the Rome-based International Union of Superiors General (UISG) Jean became aware of the global scourge of human trafficking. Her Order, along with many other women’s religious orders, undertook a ministry of educating people about human trafficking and working as advocates for its victims. Returning from the central Mother House in Rome in 2002, Jean took sabbatical time and then relocated to California to begin anti human trafficking efforts.
She started the “STOP Trafficking!”’ e-newsletter, now in its 17th year, and co-directed SDS Hope House, a home for women coming out of situations of enslavement. In 2016, management of the home was transferred to another faith-based group. Jean then took up ministry to refugees, tutoring English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) to women in their homes.
Currently she serves as secretary/treasurer of the Salvatorian Advocacy for Victims of Exploitation (S.A.V.E.) Inc. Board, which is undertaking advocacy for Native American women in the northern California area. Jean was a member of a women’s group that established a Blue Ribbon Commission charged with conducting research to validate the need for a County Commission for Women and Girls in Sacramento, Calif. Jean serves on the Board of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) and chairs its Survivor Services Working Group.
In addition to these ministries, Jean has been an active member of various Salvatorian-related committees nationally and internationally. She has volunteered at various non-profit agencies that serve refugees, homeless and trafficked survivors.
Jean earned a Ph.D. in Human Physiology and taught at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wis. for a number of years, until she was elected to the Provincial Leadership Team of her Order. In that capacity she was responsible for vocation promotion and mission advancement.
When Jean initiated the “STOP Trafficking!” newsletter, few people knew about the scourge of human trafficking. Her work has served to significantly increase public awareness of the trafficking of human beings in the United States and globally. Moreover, through the newsletter she has provided a forum for advocacy and action to eradicate modern-day slavery.