Guest Blog: The Power of Sisterhood
Sister Bernadine Karge OP
March 8, 2016
What a wonderful day and a half at the Sisters in Public Leadership training in DC the first weekend in March 2016! I am most grateful for this experience learning about media and advocacy with the women and men of NETWORK and Faith in Public Life.
My name is Sister Bernadine Karge, and I am an immigration attorney. For most of my ministry I have worked in direct service with education and advocacy on the sideline. Having been a “Nun on the Bus” during the last three years brought opportunities to speak with reporters, to engage others in issues dear to their hearts and to be welcomed into diverse faith and ethnic communities and enabled me to experience and share my gifts and talents in new ways.
The most surprising part of our Sisters in Public Leadership training was the sense of sisterhood I felt and owning the title of “sister” to speak the truth about the lives, hopes, struggles and dreams of all the people who have blessed my life. Meeting the other sisters from across the country increased our sense of sisterhood. Our passion for justice and service for the poor connected us immediately. We could laugh and cry together at the mess of our world.
One valuable skill I developed was connecting the moral and religious aspect with the legal aspect of immigration, which has been my passion for decades. To come at the question as a Catholic sister, rather than as only a legal advocate was a helpful shift in perspective. I was encouraged not to be fearful of speaking out from a faith perspective.
The community of our sisterhood has been hidden under a bushel basket. Sisters are no longer immediately visible without traditional habits, but even more significantly, we have not seen ourselves as others see us, as powerful women with life and faith experience for which our world hungers. We are the ones who can take the risk to bring the faces of the poor to those who do not see them.
The feeling of trust and belonging that was shared during my Nuns on the Bus experience expanded my sense of community to those of other faiths. We are all one – not because we believe or act the same way, but because we all breathe the breath of God who calls us to the fullness of life in God’s image. It is our role to share our light, our life and our love with all.
Sr. Bernadine Karge OP
Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa, WI