Talitha Kum: Change in Leadership Announcement

Change in Leadership Announcement - Talitha Kum international coordinator


"We in Talitha Kum believe in collaborative leadership as we work together and share not only gifts and availability, but leadership together."


Since September 1st, 2022, Sr. Abby Avelino, MM, is the new International Coordinator of Talitha Kum, the International network against Human Trafficking. Sr. Avelino is taking over after Sr Gabriella Bottani, SMC, who has been leading Talitha Kum since 2014 and nurturing its development. The UISG and Talitha Kum gives Sr. Bottani our heartfelt thanks for her devoted work and tireless commitment to the fight against human trafficking.


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.


Sr. Avelino, who belongs to the Maryknoll Sisters of Saint Dominic, was born in the Philippines and raised in the United States. Sr. Avelino earned a degree in Engineering and worked as a mechanical/systems engineer before entering missionary religious life. As a missionary, she was assigned to Tokyo, Japan, where she lived for 16 years as a pastoral worker. 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. Now in Rome, her role as International Coordinator 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

Sr. Avelino says: “Capacity to listen with an open heart.” 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. We have come this far as we journey together; we say hellos and goodbyes to our sisters in leadership roles. As we walk TOGETHER… I embrace this role of leadership in Talitha Kum Network with its unique identity; a unique network without traditional organizational structures.


We in Talitha Kum believe in collaborative leadership as we work together and share not only gifts and availability, but LEADERSHIP TOGETHER. I do believe that everyone has his or her own gifts to lead with great Trust in God. If we believe in our own leadership, we can empower one another, and be empowered.


I thank the UISG led by Sister Patricia Murray, IBVM, and my own congregation, Maryknoll Sisters of Saint Dominic, for the trust and encouragement that I received to take on this new role as Talitha Kum International Coordinator.
I always say this role is overwhelming. I have taken on the role of regional coordinator in Asia, but 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. I have come with an open heart to take this new role. I have come with a great sign of encouragement to move forward with the baton entrusted to me by my predecessor, Sister Gabriella Bottani, SMC. I am filled with heartfelt gratitude for her leadership and commitment to Talitha Kum. Lastly, I know that I will not be able to carry out this role without the support of all of Talitha Kum networks, our partners, and collaborators. It is an honor and a challenging opportunity for me to work within this wider circle of collaboration. 

“Listening heart,” an invitation by our Holy Father Pope Francis into the synodal journey, 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! Thank you so much!"


UISG Communication Office


Ellen McDonald

Dear Abby, congratulations and many prayers for our once-Affiliate whose work through Maryknoll I have watched over the years and greatly appreciated from afar. I am happy for you and for Talitha Kum and assure you of many prayers and much love as you hereby increase your dedication and service in this special mission! God bless! Ellen


Sr Nazha El Khoury

Sœur Abby Avelino, Merci d'avoir accepté cette nouvelle responsabilité qui demande beaucoup de présence, d'écoute et d'attention. Puisse le Seigneur demeurer avec vous et vous accomapner. Puisse-t-il cheminer avec vous pour vous aider à embresser la vulnerabilité de ces gens qui attendent de l'attention et de l'amour gratuits. Béni soit le Seigneur.


Sr. Maria Carla Frison fdcc

Dal Santuario di Santa Bakhita a Schio giunga il più affettuoso saluto e benvenuto a sr. Abby Avelino come nuova coordinatrice di Talitha Kum. L'anno prossimo, nella festa di s. Bakhita, sarà inaugurata a Schio l'opera in cui S. Bakhita libera gli schiavi portando alla luce chi vive nell'ombra. Possa s. Bakhita, patrona delle vittime della tratta e degli operatori di libertà, sostenere la missione di sr. Abby con "la speranza di tempi migliori" per le vittime di ogni schiavitù. Speriamo di incontrarci a Schio! Sor. Maria Carla Frison canossiana - Archivio s. Giuseppina Bakhita Schio, 13 settembre 2022


Carmen Sammut

Congratulations to Sr Gabriella Bottani for all that she did for Talitha Kum and to extend the network and encourage sisters to join. I hope you can get a well earned rest. Welcome to Sr Abby- we promise to continue working and praying, supporting Talitha Kum so that our world may become a better place to live in. Courage, you have a beautiful mission.


Sister Lynn Kaum, MMS

More power to you and Talitha Kum! Thanks for answering God's invitation and call to lead Talitha Kum.


Norie Mojado

Thank you Sr. Gabriela for your work at Talitha Kum. Dear Abby, congratulations and thank you for accepting this call to be in leadership of the international Talitha Kum. Know that you are in our prayers and supportive of your ministry. God bless.


sister Marjolein from UCESM

Dear Sister Gabriela, thank you very much for all you have done in the field of human trafficking. I hope to meet you again! Dear Sister Abby, I wish you God's richest blessing in your difficult task; courage, inspiration but also joy! A heartfelt greeting!


Theresa Kastner, MM

Loving congratulations to the UISG and to you Abby as you accept this new leadership role. Having seen the enthusiasm and commitment with which you have worked to develop the Asian Talitha Kum network these past few years I know you will bring this spirit and your many gifts to this new role. Blessings in the years ahead.


Rachel Lauze, MM

Congratulations to UISG and to our Sister Abby Avelino for all the energy and creativity of the past recent years of the Talitha Kum initiative. May the bonds created in this human network only grow stronger. We join you in prayer.


Theresa Baldini, MM

Abby, we are so grateful for your openness to accept being part of the Leadership of Talitha Kum! We join our prayers with so many others who love you and are grateful for the depth of your love, the strength of your faith and a compassion that reaches beyond measure! You are woven into the fabric of our hearts and prayers always here in our Maryknoll Contemplative Community, your sister and friend, Theresa


Sr Danièle ROZIERE, Xavière; coordinatrice de Talitha Kum Côte d'Ivoire

J'accueille avec confiance la nouvelle coordinatrice internationale, Sr Abby Avelino, et je remercie infiniment Sr Gabriella Bottani qui m'a initiée au Réseau et qui a toujours été très accueillante. Que le Seigneur bénisse sa nouvelle mission ! Unies dans cette tache motivante...


Teresa Dagdag, MM

Thank you for accepting this invitation and challenge, Abby. We, Maryknoll Sisters in the Philippine Mission Presence, are truly proud of you and wish you the best in your new assignment as International Coordinator of Talitha Kum! Blessings on your mission to strengthen the network!

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