Bus Blog: New York City Town Hall

Sister Emily TeKolste, SP
September 29, 2020

As I sat in the small breakout room with a priest, two other Sisters, and three other people during the Town Hall for Spirit-Filled Voters in New York City, I was struck by the spirit of the conversation as two of the women in the group began to talk about their grandchildren. One shared a recent realization that her grandchildren could very easily live to see the year 2100. The priest, our host for the evening, followed up with the comment that “as a celibate,” he couldn’t understand things in the same way as these grandmothers, who spoke of wanting to build the kind of world they wanted their grandchildren to have the opportunity to live in – a world where integrity matters, where the scriptural call to love God and neighbor and exclude no one is practiced, where human dignity is practiced and we act in solidarity with each other as the teaching of the Incarnation calls us to.

The world that our small group members envisioned was beautiful: it encompassed all creation. It spoke of service to the poor and taking care of each other. We dreamed of salvation as a sense of belonging and what it might mean for that to extend to everyone. We saw the interconnectedness of all life.

And the group’s participants saw the world with clear eyes. One spoke of having two children who were in their 20s prior to the passing of the Affordable Care Act and, due to preexisting conditions, were thousands of dollars in medical debt. Another spoke of working in education and watching the educational disparities grow right before her eyes, especially in light of the virtual learning gap during this pandemic. One talked of the American ideal of “opportunity for all,” while recognizing that the actual system is set up to work against that ideal.

And when we returned to the main conversation group, we learned that the grandmothers’ voices were powerful in other groups as well. Sister Susan Francois put forth an idea in the Zoom chat box: “Grandmothers on the Bus”!

Can you imagine that? I know my grandmother was the powerhouse matriarch of my family – all 12 children, 33 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren. Imagine Grandmothers on the Bus.

And let’s not stop there. Grandfathers on the Bus. Aunts and Uncles on the Bus. Siblings on the Bus. Priests and Brothers on the Bus. Boomers on the Bus. Gen-Xers on the Bus. Millennials on the Bus. Gen-Zers on the Bus. Let us all join in the work for justice – let us strive for a better future for our loved ones – because this work needs each and every one of us to participate.