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Peace & Justice Education

Through a survey on Peace and Justice Education, the Yankton Benedictine Sisters chose to focus on the issues of human trafficking and the abolition of the death penalty for our peace and justice efforts for 2016-2017.  These topics were reaffirmed  for 2017-2018.  The Social Justice Committee was asked to assist with these choices, as the community continues its education and discusses possible actions.

Below, the Social Justice committee will share information that they have found helpful.  We hope that this will help you to grow in awareness of these issues.

Human Trafficking 

February 8 , 2018 — International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking

We observed the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking St. Josephine Bakhita Image| Peace & Justice Educationon February 8, the memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita.

“​The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General has designated February 8 as an annual day of prayer and awareness against human trafficking. February 8 is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. Once Josephine was freed, she became a Canossian nun and dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering. She was declared a Saint in 2000.​”

We celebrated this day at Sacred Heart Monastery by

  • ​​Spreading awareness on social media
  • Remembering this intention at Mass
  • Providing living groups with a handout of information and a prayer you might use at noonday prayer or compline​
  • Asking each sister to pray for an end to human trafficking
  • Suggesting that we individually choose a way to fast for the end of trafficking. Penance can remind us of the suffering of those who are not free to eat, drink, and rest as they would like.

This prayer card and other information can be found at on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.A Prayer to St. Josephine Bakhita | Peace & Justice Education

Human Trafficking 

How we got started:  The Monastic Council distributed a questionnaire about social justice areas that we at Sacred Heart Monastery as a community would be interested in focusing on 2016-1017.  As a community we decided to focus on human trafficking and the Death Penalty.  The Social Justice Committee was asked to assist with these choices, and we share some of what we have learned on this webpage. We encourage others to become educated about this national and state problem, to be aware of one’s surroundings and those who are suspicious, and to get involved in helping stop this crime.  Click here to learn more about how Sacred Heart Monastery Sisters have raised awareness on Human Trafficking Issues. One of the educational resources the Sisters used was this YouTube video, which focuses on human trafficking in South Dakota.

The YouTube “Hidden in Plain Sight” about trafficking in South Dakota.  Click the picture to enlarge.

Please note that this video does have some graphic images. 

Death Penalty

Bill passes SD House, Killed in Senate Judiciary committee

February 20, 2018 — House Bill 1123.  The purpose of this bill is to prohibit persons suffering from a severe mental illness from receiving capital punishment.  The entire bill can be read on-line. After passing the South Dakota House, the bill was “defered to the 41st day of the 40 day legislative session” by a 5 to 2 vote of the Senate Judiciary committee. We wish to thank South Dakota Alternatives to the Death Penalty and all who worked for this measure, our Representatives Hunhoff and Stevens, and especially Senators Kennedy and Rusch who supported it in committee.  God bless all of you involved in this effort!

SDADP Conference Talks

Below are the talks given by Dr. Paula Caplan , Scott Langley, Phyllis Arends, and Traci Smith at the October 7, 2017 conference of South Dakota Alternatives to the Death Penalty, held at the University of Sioux Falls. A bill will be discussed in the South Dakota legislature this winter outlawing the death penalty for the intellectually disabled and those who committed the crime while in a psychotic state. For more information, go to To learn more about Catholic teaching, as well as opportunities to take action, go to

For a young man on death row, taking an intelligence test is a matter of life and death.  Click here to link to the video, “THE TEST” by Paula J. Caplan, based on the true story of Jerome Bowden.

For information about efforts to free those on death row who were wrongly convicted, learn about the work of Cornell University Law School and The Innocence Project.

Conference of Benedictine Prioresses – 2017 Statements

Peace & Justice Education

The Conference of Benedictine Prioresses advocate for Peace & Justice Education.

One of the organizations that offers great support to a prioress in this country, and in turn to her community, is the American Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, which meets annually in late January or February. At the 2017 CBP meeting forty-eight prioresses and federation presidents from the US, Mexico, the Bahamas, and Canada gathered to pray, reflect, and dialogue. An important item on their agenda is Peace & Justice Education. One important consideration was approval of a statement on racism, in response to this on-going social sin and its effects.  It is from the Benedictine practice of hospitality and respect for every person that the prioresses wrote this statement and now share it with others, to encourage awareness and to promote personal conversion and systemic change

Prioresses’ Statement on Racism

Peace & Justice Education | February 4, 2017

In the spirit of the centuries-old Rule of Benedict which urges us to listen with the ear of the heart and to respect the gifts of each person as unique individuals, we, the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, recognize the injustices caused by racism in our society.  Our communities have made many efforts to address this injustice as a social sin in which we take part.  We recognize that our society, culture, and country are at a time when many implications and effects of racism are emerging on every side. The conversion called for is pervasive. In solidarity with other religious/faith leaders, we recognize that racial injustice is social sin –

 To speak of social sin means in the first place to recognize that, by virtue of a human solidarity which is as mysterious and intangible as it is real and concrete, each individual’s  (and corporate) sin in some way affects others. ...Every sin has repercussions on the entire ecclesial body and the whole human family.” Pope John Paul ll, December 2, 1984.

(Click here for the full statement in PDF form).

Conference of Benedictine Prioresses – 2013 and 2008 Statements

Here are three other recent statements written by the American Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, on immigration , gun violence and human trafficking. While acknowledging differing views on contemporary social concerns, we share these statements to promote reflection, prayer, and dialogue about issues affecting all people in the United States and beyond our borders. In these days of great division and much uncivil discourse, let us pray for peace and work for understanding, as we engage in the social concerns of our time.

Immigration Statement

Peace & Justice Education | February 4, 2013

We, the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, join our voices with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), with Network, and with the bipartisan legislative effort to create a comprehensive immigration reform.


As immigrants themselves, our Benedictine fore-mothers understood the needs of immigrants coming to this country.  They served well and nurtured faith in this new land. In our time of numerous migrations, we acknowledge the rich contribution made by immigrant people and decry the unjust treatment they are too often compelled to endure …

Click here for Word Document or Click here for PDF of full version. It is not a download.

Gun Violence

Prevention of Gun Violence: A Statement of the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses

Peace & Justice Education | March 21, 2013

As Benedictine monastic women we stand united in a 1500 – year tradition, rooted in Gospel values of peace and non-violence.  Our Benedictine way of life requires us not only to be people of peace but also “to foster peace in the society around us.” That peace is based on right relationships and mutual respect.  Any violation of the rights and integrity of people, of the land, and of the environment is an act of violence. A definite culture of violence is pervasive in our society in movies, television programming, video games, music and advertisements.  The proliferation of guns, both legal and illegal, has contributed to a significant increase in violence in the United States and in the drug wars in Mexico. …

Click here for Word Document or Click here for PDF of full version. It is not a download

Human Trafficking

Statement of corporate stance on human trafficking: Conference of Benedictine Prioresses

Peace & Justice Education | 2008

Committed to the Benedictine motto of PAX and to personal and social transformation of our culture of fear to a culture of love and right relationship, the membership of the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses, a group of fifty-seven monasteries representing 2620 women religious, denounce the practice of human trafficking and commit to the work of bringing about the elimination of this evil practice.  We invite all who are drawn to this cause to join with us by continuing to learn and to raise the awareness among family, friends and co-workers.

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Benedictine Sisters
Sacred Heart Monastery
1005 W. 8th St.
Yankton, SD 57078

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