Category Archives: Nuns on the Bus

All Abord – Nuns on the (virtual) bus

Four years ago it was my honor and privilege to be a Nun on the Bus. You remember that election I am sure. I was on the bus from Janesville, Wisconsin to Cleveland, Ohio. Along the way I met some amazing people and heard incredible stories about the joys and struggles of our brothers and sisters. My leg on the trip ended at the Republican National Convention where we passed out lemonade to delegates and asked them three questions: 1. Who is difficult to talk to about politics in your family and why. 2. What conerns you about the election. 3. What gives you hope for our nation.

Four years later I still remember those conversations. As I wrote in Global Sisters Report in 2016:

“Our diversity is our strength,” one man from Wisconsin told me. “It can be scary, but over time our country will heal based on our strong values.” Another from Tennessee said, “We have overcome a lot before as a nation and can do it again.”

For that to be possible, we need to bridge the growing political divide. We need to sweeten the sour conversations in our body politic, in our families and in our communities. We need to talk with people with whom we do not normally engage. If we want to mend the gaps and reweave the fabric of society, then we need to move beyond trading barbs, attacks and presumed facts and focus instead on our hearts, probe our fears, and dare to hope for our nation.

(you can read other reflections I wrote from the bus in 2016 here, here, here, and here.

Sadly, the divide has deepened and the gaps seem even wider today. I believe that this 2020 election comes at a critical time in our nation’s story. The theme of the 2020 Nuns on the Bus Tour–which will of course be virtual given our COVID reality–is therefore quite fitting: Who We Elect Matters. For this reason, I decided to get back on the bus this year to talk about how I feel called to be a multi issue voter.

In many ways, the voter I am today is because of my Mom. My Mom knew in her bones that who we elect matters in the lives of real people, especially those who are poor and vulnerable. She taught me to care for life at all stages, to promote human dignity and the common good and to bring all those concerns into the voting booth (or onto the pages of a mail in ballot, as the case may be.)

Now, you might be wondering what a virtual Nuns on the Bus Tour looks like! Well, the journey officially begins on September 23, but the website is live now. When you click on the link you will find a map of our great country, with various stops you can make, including:

-Meet a Nun on the Bus Videos (you can watch my video here) and Site Visit videos where you can meet people involved in social service agencies and community organizations

-Sign up for live events, including Site Visits, Town Halls for Spirit Filled Voters and Dialogues Across Geographic Divides.

I will be attending events in New York City, New Jersey, Florida, Kansas, St. Louis, and Arizona — all virtually of course. I hope to maybe see some of you there!

But most importantly, I pray that all voters will take this election seriously, follow their conscience, and vote for the common good.

Nuns on the Bus 2016

2016busgraphic.pngTomorrow I head to Madison, Wisconsin to join the first leg of the 2016 Nuns on the Bus tour.  I will join a group of ten Catholic Sisters from across the country. We will stop and visit with folks in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio, ending in Cleveland at the Republican Convention. Another group of sisters will then take the bus through the Northeast to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia.

Why are we going on the bus?  You’d have to have been in a deep sleep these last months to not be aware of the general cynical, polarized, and deeply divided nature of our nation’s political climate. There is such fear and hostility in the air, much of it cultivated and exploited.  And of course events from Orlando to Dallas to Baton Rouge seem to have both grabbed the nation’s attention and left a deeply divided society at an impasse. How do we bridge these divides, bring people together, and respond to the very real needs of individuals and families who are struggling?

The Nuns on the Bus will be driving over 2,400 miles this summer to meet with individuals, families, and communities in 13 states and 23 cities over 19 days. We are responding to the unhealthy political climate and divisive rhetoric of this election cycle by  engaging in dialogue about how we can mend the gaps in our society. The goal is to bring a politics of inclusion to divided places, change the conversation to mending the vast economic and social divides in our country, and counter political incivility with our message of inclusion at the Republican and Democratic Conventions and beyond.

Truth be told, I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone when I step onto the bus tomorrow afternoon. Many moons ago, when I was a low-level government worker in Portland, Oregon and long before I listened to the call to become a Catholic Sister, I was afraid of public speaking, and here I am embarking on a week long adventure that entails multiple speaking engagements each day!  Of course, I’ve gotten over much of that fear since then, learned some skills, and had a decade or so to grow into my nun identity. Moreover, I know that answering the invitation to join the bus is part of my deepening call to serve God and God’s people in need.

Of course, I also find inspiration in the example of Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack), the founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace who spoke out for justice whenever she could.

“But it did matter to me a great deal in view of our common humanity and in view of my love for the poor, that I should do all I could for those whom he had loved so well.”

“What misery has been seen–what crime has been committed, even in our time, by unjust pressure on the poor.”

“We read in the holy gospels that ‘Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all manner of sickness, and every infirmity among the people’ (St. Matt. iv. 23). And we also, my pilgrim friends, may go about the Galilee of this world, and preach ‘the gospel of the kingdom.’ It is a gospel of peace, it is a gospel of love, it is a gospel of mercy; it is a gospel for the poor, for the little ones, who live near to the Heart of God.”

I suspect she would have been at home with the Nuns on the Bus!

Please keep everyone involved in the Nuns on the Bus 2016 tour in your prayers this month. I will be writing from the Bus both for the Nuns on the Bus blog on the NETWORK website and for Global Sisters Report.