September 18, 2020

‘God moment’ leads couple to help start anti-trafficking ministry in archdiocese

Deacon John and Ada Hosier pose for a photo at Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis. The couple has been influential in recently starting an anti-trafficking ministry in the archdiocese. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

Deacon John and Ada Hosier pose for a photo at Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis. The couple has been influential in recently starting an anti-trafficking ministry in the archdiocese. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy

In the life of a married couple, it can be revealing when a husband and wife reach the same conclusion independent of each other.

When it happened in a special way to Ada and Deacon John Hosier, she even viewed it as “a God moment”—a moment that has led to a new outreach ministry in the archdiocese.

For Deacon John, that moment began to unfold when he felt God was calling him to use his “brokenness” of being abused as a child to help others—a calling he wasn’t sure how to follow until he attended a panel discussion on human trafficking in Indianapolis.

“I was struck when I heard a woman who had been a victim of trafficking for many years,” he recalls. “The one thing she said that stuck with me was that she hadn’t been in a relationship for years because she felt if she got angry at that person, she would kill him. That just floored me. After that, I felt this is the ministry I was called to.”

Around the same time, Ada had been listening to the radio when she was stunned to hear a report about a center in Indianapolis that helps victims of human trafficking—people who have been coerced, abducted or deceived and then exploited sexually or forced into essentially working as a slave.

“I’ve been a mental health therapist for 36 years,” she says. “Hearing about women who are victims of human trafficking, I thought of the trauma of the clients I work with. I thought this is something I can help with.”

So when Deacon John came home and shared his idea of approaching the archdiocese about starting an anti-trafficking ministry, Ada immediately told him she wanted to help.

“It was a God moment,” she recalls. “It was God’s timing. There are no coincidences with God.”

And so from his call to use his brokenness and from her desire to help people who are broken, the married couple of 39 years is at the forefront of the archdiocese’s efforts to make a difference locally in the global tragedy of human trafficking. (Related stories: Survivors of human trafficking inspire work of new outreach ministry | Resources available)

‘It was an answer to a prayer’

“It amazes me that I’ve been in the field for over three decades as a social worker and I knew very little of this tragedy,” Ada says. “If this is my experience, I could only imagine the lack of knowledge many people have on this topic. It’s a billion dollar or more industry that doesn’t know any income level, any race, any gender. For the victims, there’s a lot of manipulation and shame. They target them when they’re young.”

She pauses for a moment before she says, “The more you learn about it, the more it’s hard to believe people can be so evil.”

Deacon John adds, “So many people don’t think it happens here. The assumption is that it happens in Third World countries, not in rural areas, not in Indianapolis. The reality is it happens here every day.”

The Hosiers know that there are about 25 million men, women and children around the world who are victims of labor- or sex trafficking, according to estimates from the International Labour Office.

The couple is also aware that more than 22,000 trafficking victims and survivors were identified in the United States in 2019, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The hotline’s data also noted that 157 human trafficking cases were reported in Indiana last year.

Wanting to help victims and make Catholics across central and southern Indiana more aware of this tragedy, Deacon John took his hope of starting an anti-trafficking ministry in the archdiocese to Theresa Chamblee, director of social concerns for Catholic Charities in the archdiocese.

“She said, ‘I’ve been waiting for your phone call.’ And that put me in a panic,” the retired engineer says with a laugh. “She laid out her idea that we’d both be in charge. I thought, I want to volunteer, not be a co-chair!

“We plan, God laughs.”

Once they had the plan, they needed the approval of Archbishop Charles C. Thompson to go forward with it.

“I remember when I got the e-mail that the archbishop had approved it,” Deacon John recalls. “It was an answer to a prayer. I really felt joy.”

Chamblee had a similar reaction when the Hosiers told her they wanted to devote their time and energy to the ministry.

“I was very excited when Ada and John approached me and said they felt this has really been placed on their hearts,” she says. “Through their passion, they have been instrumental in bringing this to the forefront of our archdiocese. It’s very exciting to me that this is moving forward, that this is a priority for our archbishop, Catholic Charities, our archdiocese.”

‘Our faith is our anchor’

One of the foundations of the Hosiers’ marriage is that they’ve always served their Church and their parish as a team.

The parents of three grown children were co-chairs of the festival at their parish, Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Indianapolis. They worked together on bringing the Christ Renews His Parish program to their faith community. They’ve also mentored engaged couples for 37 of their 39 years of married life. And they were part of the Marriage Encounter program in central Indiana for four years.

“In working with couples, one thing we’ve always told them is that our faith is our anchor,” Deacon John says. “And from that, we go outward.”

As her husband was preparing to be ordained a deacon in 2017, Ada wondered if their team approach could continue.

“It’s always been nice to work together,” she says. “When someone becomes a deacon, the Church encourages the wife to become involved, too. You don’t just get the deacon, you get the deacon’s wife, too. I’m glad this ministry lets us continue to work together. Because of the pandemic, I was able to attend every meeting and give my advice as a clinician.”

Deacon John notes, “She has so much insight into this from all her years as a social worker. She’s seen what I call ‘man’s inhumanity to man.’ As we were learning different things about human trafficking, I really got to see that the people she helps are suffering.”

Now, the couple is focused on the archdiocese’s efforts to help the victims of human trafficking and educate others about this crisis. The ministry began its efforts with an educational virtual webinar in August.

“We’re starting with education and the ways parishes can help,” Ada says. “We want to make everybody in the archdiocese—from middle school students to adults—aware of the evils of human trafficking.”

In the face of such evil, Deacon John acknowledges, “It’s easy to lose hope. It’s easy to become overwhelmed.” Still, he’s found hope and strength from two defining relationships in his life.

“Working with Ada on this has actually drawn us closer,” he says. “We also pray together for the victims of human trafficking—and the counselors and social workers who help them.

“And for me, hope always rests in Christ. It’s hope eternal. To see victims get to a point of healing is a sign of that hope.” †

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