Spirit of Hope – In the story below we see some of the values we wish to see in our students and our broader society today. We live in an age obsessed with living on grudges borne of past injustice. But when Jesus said, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead’ (Matthew 8:22), he was in part suggesting that we should not allow the past to cripple us in the present.
St Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of Sudan and of victims of human trafficking, is someone who had experienced first-hand the evil injustice of slavery.
Bakhita was introduced to the central tenets of Christianity: love, faith, and – especially in her case – the Spirit of hope.
In 1890, Bakhita was baptised Josephine Margaret Fortunata. Six years later she took her vows as a Canossian Sister, a vocation she embraced for the rest of her life. ‘Those holy Mothers instructed me with heroic patience,’ she said, ‘and brought me into a relationship with God whom, ever since I was a child, I had felt in my heart without knowing who he was.’
Had Bakhita become bitter and full of hatred for her enslavers, we would not be surprised. Instead, when asked what she would do if she met her kidnappers again, Bakhita generously replied, ‘I would kneel and kiss their hands. For, if these things had not happened, I would not have been a Christian.’
FREEDOM OF SAINTS
On 10 February 1993, in Sudan, Pope John Paul II celebrated the (then) Blessed Bakhita, echoing St Paul’s mighty thought: ‘The daughter of Sudan sold into slavery as a living piece of merchandise … (is) … free with the freedom of the saints!’
For Bakhita, like many a saint, was driven not by vengeance or a search for recompense, but rather, hope: ‘I am definitely loved, and whatever happens to me – I am awaited by this love. And so, my life is good.’
St Josephine Bakhita
Feast day: 8 February
Patron saint of victims of modern slavery
Ref P. Fleming Australian Catholics
Mr Craig Holmes, Principal