SXU Professor travels to Costa Rica to provide ministry to victims of sex trade
Prof. Thomas Dodson part of 18-member group from Chicago Tabernacle Church
Chicago (Nov. 5, 2008) Saint Xavier University professor Thomas Dodson, Ph.D., was one of 18 members of Chicago Tabernacle to travel to Costa Rica this summer to counsel men and women working in the sex trade.
Dodson served with the Rahab Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to the well-being of people involved in sexual commerce in Costa Rica. Fundacion Rahab was founded by Mariliana Morales in 1997 to contribute to the protection and well being of women and men who wish to escape the sexual commerce industry. The Foundation offers an 18-month program of counseling and educational courses in computers, sewing, baking and jewelry making. Upon graduation, participants receive a diploma and a certificate in their chosen trade.
“The goal is to help men and women sex workers receive alternative vocational training, personal faith ministry and counseling services,” Dodson said. “The professional certification they receive at the Foundation is crucial to their ability to work in another profession in Costa Rica.”
Dodson and his fellow volunteers went out into the streets to invite men and women to the Rahab center where they could experience prayer and be introduced to opportunities in vocational training in non-sex related work. They also worked on the Rahab center itself by painting, moving furniture and installing appliances. A few weeks after Dodson’s group returned to the United States, they learned that the Costa Rican government paid off the entire mortgage of the Rahab Foundation’s new building in San Jose.
“The news that the Costa Rican government had paid off the Rahab building was an answer to our prayers,” Dodson said.
Dodson, an associate professor in Saint Xavier University’s Master of Arts and Counseling program, intends to write an academic piece about his experiences in Costa Rica.
“I am writing about my experience from a personal faith and ministry perspective and how I see it impacting my work as a professor here at Saint Xavier,” Dodson said. “I was struck by the connection between what we did this summer in Costa Rica and the Mercy mission of the University.”
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Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846, Saint Xavier University was the first Mercy college in the United States and is Chicago’s oldest Catholic university. Serving approximately 5,700 students at its campuses in Chicago, Orland Park and its Loop location, the University offers 35 undergraduate majors; more than 40 graduate program options in arts and sciences, business, education and nursing; and a variety of program options in continuing and professional studies. Recognizing Saint Xavier’s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked SXU consistently among the Best Colleges in the Midwest.