Deacon aims to heal those affected by porn, human trafficking - Catholic Courier

Deacon aims to heal those affected by porn, human trafficking

Soon after Deacon Michael Kristan began his ministry as a permanent deacon at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral in 2018, the Jeffrey Epstein scandal broke.

“I was outraged. This (human trafficking) is happening all around us. How is it going unchecked?” he recalled thinking at the time.

His outrage prompted him to connect with such local organizations as Brightstar Community that seek to help women and children affected by human trafficking to rebuild lives of hope.

Ultimately, he was left with questions.

“We’re just addressing symptoms. What is the disease state?” he asked himself.

Deacon discovers well-documented correlation between porn, human trafficking

Research led Deacon Kristan to human trafficking and anti-pornography activists Sister Marysia Webber, RSM, DO, and Dr. Peter Kleponis, as well as such organizations as Fight the New Drug and the Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Through them, he discovered a well-documented correlation between pornography and human trafficking.

“Research involving current and former porn performers suggests that exploitation and trafficking are common experiences in the porn industry, with pornography ranking as the third-most common form of trafficking reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline,” according to information at https://fightthenewdrug.org.

Statistics reported by Fight the New Drug show that one in four young adults cite pornography as a helpful source in learning how to have sex, with 53 percent of men and 39 percent of women saying that porn is a realistic depiction of sex. Research also has shown that consumers of porn tend to be less satisfied in their relationships, less committed to their partners and more accepting of committing adultery, according to Fight the New Drug.

Pornography is just like any addiction, Deacon Kristan asserted, and he believes the solution lies in offering men and women a prayerful, supportive fraternity within the church as they seek a deeper conversion of heart with God’s healing.

St. Michael’s Family Protection Institute founded to offer hope, healing

Toward that end, Deacon Kristan founded a ministry at the cathedral in September 2022 called St. Michael’s Family Protection Institute. Sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, FPI’s mission is to acknowledge and address the need for chastity, hope and healing amid a pornified, contraceptive culture. The ministry also has formed partnerships with such local organizations as Angels of Mercy and Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

This past spring, 150 men and women, including several priests and deacons, met at the cathedral for a Holy Hour, confessions and small-group fraternity during FPI’s first public meeting. Such gatherings now take place the second Monday of each month, with the next one slated for 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 14 at the cathedral, 296 Flower City Park, Rochester.

On July 30, FPI will mark the 2023 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons by sponsoring an outdoor Stations of the Cross. Participants will gather at the cathedral’s front steps at 12:30 p.m., process to Lake and Ridgeway avenues, and then return to the cathedral.

Ministry also offers resources, a book group and coaching

In addition to public meetings and events, Deacon Kristan said that FPI also offers a resource center at the cathedral library, a weekly book group, a website to draw people together around events and resources, and coaching from others who are successfully overcoming bad habits or addictions.

As the ministry continues to grow organically, he said he hopes to offer Living Waters Healing Ministry, which helps Christians struggling with sexual and relational problems.

“The Lord’s been sending me people, and we’re coming together and resonating with things we’re struggling with. We’re recognizing that this is good,” Deacon Kristan said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on St. Michael’s Family Protection Institute, call 585-633-0397 or visit https://www.smfpi.org.

Tags: Deacons, Monroe County East
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