Survey Promo
RVA App Promo Image

Filipina nun becomes new International Coordinator of Talitha Kum

Sister Aurea Abby Bisnar Avelino (Photo supplied)

A Filipina nun has become the new International Coordinator of Talitha Kum, the International Network against Human Trafficking.

Talitha Kum also advocates for the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees.

On September 1, Sister Aurea Abby Bisnar Avelino, a Catholic nun who belongs to the Maryknoll Sisters of Saint Dominic, took over the responsibility from Sister Gabriella Bottani, SMC, who has been leading Talitha Kum since 2014 and nurturing its development.

In 2009, Talitha Kum was formally established by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) as an international initiative against human trafficking and exploitation.

Talitha Kum promotes collaboration among networks organized at national, regional, and continental levels, actively supporting victims, survivors, and people at risk.

Sister Avelino was born in Tanauan, Batangas, Philippines, but later immigrated to the United States and settled in California with her family. 

She worked as an engineer for six years when she realized she wanted to impact the world through mission and service.

She entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation in 2006, made her First Profession of Vows in August of 2008, and professed her Final Vows in 2014.

She was assigned to Tokyo, Japan, where she lived for 16 years as a pastoral worker.

She helped out at Catholic parishes in Japan and was a welcoming presence there for migrant families from the Philippines. She worked full-time for seven years at a parish ministry – St. Ignatius, an international community of at least 6,000 family members. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Church served 800–1000 people every Sunday for English Mass.

Furthermore, her passion is continuously shown through her work as she continues to advocate for the healing of women and children who have been abused.

As a pastoral worker, she has accompanied many migrants from all over the world, particularly migrant women from the Philippines. She has met numerous women who have been deceived and exploited by traffickers.

These encounters with human trafficking victims triggered something in her heart that moved her to become involved in the anti-trafficking ministry.

In 2016, she started being involved with Talitha Kum Japan, focusing on the pastoral accompaniment of migrant workers, particularly women from the Philippines, victims, and survivors of human trafficking.

In 2021, she joined the Talitha Kum International Coordination Committee as the Regional Representative of Asia, strengthening the networking between the 14 Asian national networks and supporting them in their activities to prevent human trafficking and accompany victims and survivors.

Her role as International Coordinator in Rome will consist of empowering and nurturing the growth of the networks, as well as strengthening collaborative partnerships with Vatican organizations and other key partners, to better tackle human trafficking. 

"Capacity to listen with an open heart," Sister Avelino says. "This was a phrase that kept ringing in my ears when I was discerning whether to accept this new role in Talitha Kum. Being part of a change of leadership in Talitha Kum is quite a big change for me as the Talitha Kum network approaches its 15th anniversary."

Talitha Kum is a Catholic nuns' organization founded in 2009 by the UISG. The organization is based in Rome and works to end human trafficking. The name is derived from an Aramaic expression found in the Gospel of Mark, which means "Maiden, I say to you, arise."

"I embrace this role of leadership in the Talitha Kum Network with its unique identity; a unique network without traditional organizational structures," she adds.

She thanked the UISG, led by Sister Patricia Murray, IBVM, and her own congregation, Maryknoll Sisters of Saint Dominic, for the trust and encouragement that Sister Avelino received to take on this new role as Talitha Kum International Coordinator.

Prior to the new responsibility, Sister Avelino was the regional coordinator in Asia, where her role is to understand and respond to the needs of national networks in 16 countries across the continent.

"Coming to Rome is a new mission for me. It is another phase of my mission life, allowing God’s plan for me to embrace the changes, to be uprooted again into a new culture, and learn another language as I respond to this new mission," she says.

She hopes to carry out this role without the support of all of Talitha Kum's networks, partners, and collaborators.

"It is an honor and a challenging opportunity for me to work within this wider circle of collaboration," she adds.

Echoing the words of Pope Francis’ "Listening heart," in the synodal journey, Sister Avelino says, "It is vital as we accompany the victims and survivors of human trafficking and those people at risk of trafficking and exploitation, particularly women and young people."

"I commit myself to this mission with trust in God," she adds. – With input from the International Union of Superiors General 


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.


Divina Amor Mercado, Sep 15 2022 - 11:07pm
Hello everyone, im the cousin of Aurea Bisnar Avelino, please say regards to her always take good care we are here in the Philippines to support her choosen responsibilities as talitha kum international network godbless to her and to the members of all Catholic Church.