Author Archives: Paul

Travel Log: Scranton

Travel Log: Scranton

July 25, 2016

We had a packed schedule of events for our time in Scranton today.

We started with a visit to The Assembly of God Church in arranged by NETWORK Board member Sister Donna Korba.

1scranton1When we arrived there was a cheering crowd to greet us. Inside, we saw tables set up with participants from all the local service agencies there to talk about their work. We then had a program of speakers. The pastor of the church opened up with prayer and then we heard from local speakers who told us of the struggles of the immigrant, living wages, and the need to vote.

A woman from Bhutan shared the story of her path to citizenship, and we heard about a recent study at the University of Scranton to look at what would constitute a living wage in the Scranton area.

State Senator John Blake welcomed us and vocalized his agreement with the urgent need to vote in order to mend the gaps of our society.

The community served us lunch and we had time for fellowship with the many people who attended.

1scrantonWe ended the meeting with Jan Novotka leading us in the prayerful song that she had written with collaboration by Mary Beth Hamm and Donna Korba for Network’s 40th anniversary. And of course, everyone came outside to sign the bus!

 

 

See also:
Slideshow: New Life Assembly of God Church

Travel Log: Hartford

Travel Log: Hartford

Sr. Rochelle Mitchell, SSS
July 24, 2016

As is our practice, we begin each day with reflection on the scriptures and shared prayer. This morning we gathered early at the farmhouse in Cumberland, Rhode Island where the Sisters of Mercy offered us hospitality. I was struck by the Gospel reading: “give us this day our daily bread.” It is clear that God desires good gifts for us. It is also clear in our “incarnated reality” that we must be persistent, even agitators, in advancing these gifts that God desires—the bread of dignity, work, housing, citizenship.

1hartford1We left Rhode Island and headed to brunch at a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut. This event was sponsored and attended by Congressman John Larson along with the mayor, Shari Cantor, and many communities of women religious. The congressman personally thanked the sisters for their work of justice and the many ministries they have sponsored in his district.

After brunch, we headed to Saint James Episcopal Church to meet and engage with a coalition of ecumenical ministers who are part of Moral Monday in Connecticut. They call attention to complacency by “turning up, occupying space and taking action” on behalf of those discriminated against because of race, gender, and income. They hold their elected officials accountable. We learned that there is a massive budget crisis in Connecticut as well as great income disparity. One of the heart-warming and encouraging signs is the work of the ecumenical and interfaith communities coming together for the common good. We were deeply moved by the tangible passion for justice.

1hartford3Our next stop was the Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center. As we entered the meeting space, over 250 people were waiting for us and ready to being addressing the gaps in their community. The gap area that my group discussed was citizenship. The interest in citizenship was so great that there were five full tables of people! I was deeply moved as the people shared their lived realities. The Northeast has a growing refugee and immigrant population. My group shared about how immigrants and refugees in their community often live in substandard conditions and don’t earn a living wage. There was a deep concern among them for a resolution to the millions of people who are living in the shadows and in fear of deportation and separation from family. The attendees envisioned a process that was more sensitive to the refugees and designed for the success of the refugees in the host community. Many of those who wanted to mend the gaps came from faith backgrounds with a strong social justice tradition as well as Catholics who are responding to the vision of Pope Francis.

We were welcomed to share dinner with the community at Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center followed by mass. Before retiring, I spent some time reflecting on the day. I had come full circle, beginning and ending the day with: “give us this day our daily bread.” I feel so nourished and grateful for the bread of life and the hope and vision that was shared with me today. My prayer is that the nourishment we have all received will energize and sustain us for the work of justice.

See also:
Reflection: Creating Spaces for Transformation
Slideshow: Moral Monday Meal (Hartford)
Slideshow: Brunch with Congressman Larson

Travel Log: Providence

Travel Log: Providence

Sisters Eileen Reilly, SSND and Richelle Friedman, PBVM
July 23, 2016

1provo1On Saturday afternoon, we headed to Providence where we had three events planned for this afternoon and evening.

Our first stop was McAuley Village founded by the Sisters of Mercy. We were privileged to hear the stories of the women in transitional housing who expressed deep gratitude to the staff there for their support, love, patience and help in navigating the educational, housing and service systems.

One person singled out for her kindness was Sr. Joan with phrases like, “If I didn’t have someone like Sr. Joan I don’t know where I’d be…. This woman is so beautiful…. She is so awesome.” One middle school young boy came over and gave Sr. Joan a warm hug before he left the room. The program includes two other sites – McAuley House where meals are served and hospitality offered and the Ward-robe which is a volunteer-supported thrift store offering quality used clothing and household goods.

1provo2We had supper at Amos House which is celebrating “Forty Years of Helping People Help Themselves.” Their campus of fourteen buildings includes a restaurant, supportive housing, a mother-child reunification center, a ninety day recovery program, as well as job and literacy training. The sparking new dining area with its entire wall of windows made for a bright and inviting space. We were struck by how grateful those we sat with were for the meal they’d received. Some were residents of one of Amos House’s transitional or supportive housing units and some came in from the streets. Tyler spoke with pride about marking his third month of being clean.  Another man asked me to pray with him since his wife had just died.  As we ended the prayer, one of the other men said, “I think some of that rubbed off on me.”

1provo3A big event of our days is a two-hour caucus wherein participants grapple with the NOTB mend the gap issues. When we arrived at St. Michael’s parish in Providence we were greeted by the tune of When the Saints go Marching In by the Extraordinary Rendition Band.  It seems this band shows up at rallies, demonstrations, and events like ours to add some spirit. They successfully managed to bring new energy to us who were showing signs of weariness after a long day.

The caucus of over 100 first talked about areas problematic to Providence and Rhode Island. Among the issues they raised were a recent defending of mental services, poverty in the schools as indicated by a 97% rate of kids eligible for free and reduced lunches, a legislature where too much power is concentrated in the hands of the Speaker of the House, and the list went on. The best part of the caucuses is when small groups are asked to talk about what it would look like if those problems with were addressed. After their visions for a better future are shared, a sense of hope fills the room.

At each of the events those gathered pledge to do their part to create a better reality and are invited to sign the bus. The bus is ready to move on with the nuns and the thousands we take with us that we’ve met and who have signed the bus.

See also:
Slideshow: McAuley Ministries (Providence) Site Visit
Slideshow: Amos House
Slideshow: Providence Caucus

Travel Log: Boston Rally

Travel Log: Boston Rally

Sisters Eileen Reilly, SSND and Richelle Friedman, PBVM
July 23, 2016

1boston3Eileen, enthusiastically announced we just entered her home state of Massachusetts as we crossed the state line this morning. We soon found ourselves warmly welcomed to the rally on the lawn of Boston College High School. “Warmly” is putting it mildly: as the temperature rose into the 90’s the huge crowd that had gathered moved their chairs under the awnings we provided or under the nearby trees.  Although dispersed across the lawn, the crowd of a couple of hundred people was engaged and enthusiastic as we presented our “Close the Gap” program.

As always we begin with some local people sharing the stories of the gaps they experience and the steps they are taking to close them.

Sharon has volunteered for 35 years at Haley House where services include job training and housing done with mutual respect for those they serve. Job training included creating the Bakery House Café, host of the delicious lunch we enjoyed.

Reverend Ellen Fifth, herself disabled, is an untiring advocate for access for those with disabilities.

Peter Buck put a face on Equal Exchange that works to bring products from worker cooperatives in Central America to the global market guaranteeing a profit to farmers thus mending the wage gap for these coop farmers.

1boston1The “Fight for $15” campaign shared the story of working for a living wage – and hopefully in the future a $15 an hour wage. We loved the ‘can do’ attitude of Darius and Rita engaged in the ‘Fight for $15.’ Said Darius, “We deserve better than working 3-4 jobs and not seeing our kids.”

We Nuns on the Bus take turns speaking at the various events, and since we were in Eileen’s hometown, she was happy to be one of the speakers, sharing why we ride the bus and what we are learning. In Eileen’s words “It was great to share the event with family, high school classmates, friends and many nuns I knew from my days in Boston.”

We Nuns on the Bus often comment that we receive more than we give. The speakers in Boston gave us hope as they work to be inclusive, creative and loving in their approaches to the work they do.1boston2See Also:
Slideshow: Boston Rally

Reflection on New Hampshire: A Pivotal Moment in Time

Reflection: A Pivotal Moment in Time

Sister Jan Cebula, OSF
July 23, 2016

1concord1During the opening of our rally at the capitol in Concord, New Hampshire on Day #11, United Church of Christ Rev. Gary Schulte prayed for all of us in this “pivotal moment in time.”

Yes, we as a people face some critical choices as we decide what kind of a people–a country–we want to be.

The urgency and importance of our choices become more apparent as Nuns on the Bus travels along.

I considered myself somewhat aware of how those who are impoverished are struggling. But the eye- opener to the seriousness of what’s happening on the economic front came when Amy, a woman with a master’s degree in social work, told her story. Working long hours which afforded little time to spend with her children, she chose to take a lower paying job. But the high cost of child care essentially meant she “couldn’t afford to work.” Struggling to manage on only her husband’s salary, they are now finding they unable to pay their rent.

And at this pivotal moment, the insidiousness of racism is being exposed all over the country.

Jazmin Langley, a Gates Foundation Millennial Scholar and Democracy Fellow at Open Democracy New Hampshire, passionately spoke of her experience as a biracial woman and how the economic and racial gaps are woven into the fabric of our society. It was a message we all needed to hear.

Like so many others, Amy and Jazmine have a deep desire to use their gifts to contribute to the community; to building up society. The gaps are a loss to us all!

It’s OUR choice and we all have decisions to make at this pivotal time:

Are we going to choose
–to remain isolated or recognize the strength of community?
–to be fearful or reach out with compassion and love?
–to be divisive or acknowledge we’re all in this together?
–to think we are better than others or recognize the gifts of all?
–to focus on ME first or to put us first?
–to maintain the divides or build bridges across them?

Later that day, we would meet people who are deciding who they want to be.

1manchester3The residents at Elmwood Gardens, a 250 unit public housing development in Manchester, NH, are making their choices. Their neighborhood is one of the most diverse locales in New Hampshire and they are embracing that. They proudly told us of their efforts to establish a residents’ council with the assistance of Granite State Organizing Project. Their dedication to helping one another, especially the children, was inspiring. They are choosing community and calling forth one another’s gifts.

In the evening, we participated in a caucus hosted at Holy Cross Center Manor. The participants were engaged in identifying the gaps in their area and envisioning a different future with tax justice, family friendly workplace policies, living wages, decent affordable housing for everyone, access to health care for all, a pathway to citizenship and full participation in our democracy. What a healthy, wholesome and happy community it would be! Once again, it was a crowd of active people, passionate about changing the conversation, working for just policies and mending the gaps.

At the morning rally, Sister Eileen Brady reminded us of our own calling. Whenever people say to her, “You are our voice,” she responds, “No, YOU have a voice!” And Jazmin was emphatic that it is OUR democracy. It’s up to all of us.

As we depart each place, we ask people to make their own choices–to do their part in mending the gaps. We invite them to sign the bus and “ride” with us.

And so in this pivotal moment in time, we invite YOU to join us in mending the gaps and reweaving the fabric of our society.  Hop on the Bus with us!

We’re all riding with the Nuns on the Bus,
                                We’ve got issues we need to discuss,
                                Get on board and ride with us,
                                Now’s the time to mend the gaps.
                                (Lyrics by Artie Alpert, Concord, NH. Sung to the tune Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep.)

 

Travel Log: Concord and Manchester

Travel Log: Concord & Manchester

Sister Janet Kinney, CSJ
July 22, 2016

Although this year’s Nuns on the Bus journey began last week in Wisconsin, I only became an official “NOTB” yesterday.   Travelling via Amtrak from my ministry as Executive Director at Providence House, a transitional and permanent housing organization in Brooklyn (founded by sisters of my congregation, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood),  I joined the sisters in Albany, New York and began my acquaintance with wonderful women – some of whom I had already met at other experiences as a “Nun on the Ferry” and through NETWORK affiliated events.

1concordThis morning as we prayed together and shared the scripture of the day, I was struck by this particular feast of Mary Magdalene, the woman who proclaimed to the disciples after the Resurrection “I have seen the Lord.” Thinking of the people I have met these two days, I too, “have seen the Lord” in the face of Christ in each of them.  I have been blessed by their trust in sharing their stories, their dreams, and yes, their passion for justice and equality for all their brothers and sisters.

Our day began by travelling to the State Capital in Concord. Shortly before the event I was met with a big surprise – my very own cousin, Gail Kinney was the local coordinator of the rally! Gail is a New Hampshire resident, a minister affiliated with the Meriden Congregational Church, long time organizer for the United Auto Workers, and a member of both  the United Church of Christ Economic Justice Ministries and Interfaith Voices of Faith groups.  Who better than Gail to welcome us!

Like rallies held before this one, 4 local residents spoke on the gaps that have most intimately affected their personal lives. The rallies are a great illustration of the power of storytelling. Two mothers told stories of the challenges of raising young children and trying to support their families. The need for a living wage and the gap that currently exists is very real. Both women were well educated yet employment that paid a living wage eluded them. When Jazmin, a biracial college student got up and spoke and told us she carries her student ID in front of her driver’s license just in case she gets stopped by law enforcement, we knew that the racism gap is real. It was one of many humbling moments for me, a woman with white skin who has never had this worry.

1manchester1In the afternoon, the Granite State Organizing Project of New Hampshire invited us to visit a public housing development in Manchester composed of 250 units which are occupied by an extremely diverse community. The residents proudly described their newly organized Resident Council, whose motto is “togetherness is community.”  I thought of the tagline of my ministry at Providence House – “Creating Communities – Transforming Lives.”  I felt a synergy with the residents’ desire here and the strength that we all find when we are part of a caring community that supports one another!  We learned in our visit that in the past 2 years the council has developed a Homework club, English language classes, and other social activities for the whole community.   Dot who participated in their leadership training program spoke of how she learned to plan and prioritize her goals, and after 2 years was now on track to move to Georgia to reunite with family.  Dot was thrilled that we had come to visit and hear their stories.  Another humbling moment, as I thought of the women and children back home at Providence House – have I missed similar opportunities?

1manchester2The evening was a caucus event at Holy Cross Center Manor. Spirited conversations with men and women from the local community ensued on the seven gap issues, each sister being responsible for a different gap conversation to moderate. Mine was affordable housing -– a natural fit!

Attendees talked about the unique features of the New Hampshire “citizen legislature” that really only allows wealthier citizens to be elected, thus ensuring that the laws do not really benefit the 100%.

During the report out from the small groups, we had several refugees from Bhutan share about their gratitude for Social Security Insurance for the elderly, but at the same time say they were not able to earn a living wage. A lawyer from Ghana said she was not able to continue in her same profession here in the United States and that there were many refugees and immigrants who were highly educated, but who were forced to do menial, minimum wage jobs because their licensing or training didn’t transfer.

We also heard from people who called for a single-payer healthcare system, and for tax reform to create a more just, progressive tax policy. Before we left, all attending “signed on to the bus” signifying their commitment to working on the ‘Mend the Gap’ issues. I said a heartfelt good bye to cousin Gail, and put a close to a very full day. I felt enormously blessed!

See also:
Reflection: A Pivotal Moment in Time
Slideshow: Concord Rally
Slideshow: Elmwood Gardens (Manchester) Site Visit
Slideshow: Manchester Caucus

Travel Log: Albany Rally, Vermont Site Visit

Travel Log: Albany & Bennington

Sister Eileen Reilly, SSND
July 21, 2016

1albany2“Mend the Gaps” became so much more than a theme or a slogan when we gathered on the steps of the New York State Capitol Building in Albany and listened to Albany residents share their stories of the gaps they were experiencing and in some cases, the steps they have taken to mend them.

After years of wishing for better public transportation, the citizens of an Albany neighborhood formed and organization called A Village Inc. Willy White, its director, told us that for the residents of his neighborhood, the 1.3 mile steep hill that separated them from the local hospital was without bus service for years.  After collecting thousands of signatures on a petition, they succeeded in pressuring the city transportation authority to provide bus service.  Since its inception a few years ago, it has become the most used bus line in the city.

Eloy, a Mexican farm worker who has been in the US for more than fifteen years works twelve hours a day, six days a week and still struggles to survive. Martha, also from Mexico, came to be with her husband, a farm worker in a similar situation.  She was deeply concerned about his health because of the long hours we works, but coming to the US meant leaving their older daughter back in Mexico.  She struggles daily with the gaps in our immigration laws which don’t allow her to go back to Mexico, or for her daughter to come to NY.

1albany1Amanda, who works for minimum wage in the fast food industry, was pregnant with her second child when she was told she was not entitled to any medical leave and would have to quit her job when she gave birth to her child. Similarly, her mother lost a job when she needed to care for Amanda’s grandmother who was critically ill.

Congressman Paul Tanko and Cathy Sheehan, the mayor of Albany, both offered warm words of support for our efforts to encourage people to join in mending the gaps. As Sister Simone often reminds people, these gaps are caused by poor policies – so they can be mended by good policies.  Those who turned out for this rally were thrilled to walk down the block to add their signatures to our bus, and to commit to doing their part to mend the Gap

1benningtonAfter a scenic drive to Vermont, we were welcomed to the Catholic Parish in Bennington for a pot luck supper with the local community. This informal gathering at which we mixed with the parishioners gave us opportunities to answer their questions about Nuns on the Bus.  (Do you sleep on the bus? No; Is their air conditioning?  Yes;  Are you exhausted? No:)  We were also able to share some of the stories we heard at other sites about Gaps and challenge these Vermonters to do their part to help mend the gaps.  They too, added their names to the bus as we climbed back on for our trip to New Hampshire.

See also:
Reflection: God continues to Speak through Parables to Us Today
Slideshow: Albany Rally
Slideshow: Bennington Potluck

Reflection from Upstate New York: God Continues to Speak through Parables to Us Today

Reflection: God Continues to Speak through Parables to Us Today: Do You Hear It? Can You See It?

Sister Alison McCrary, SFCC
July 21, 2016

The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?” He said to them in reply, “. . . This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand . . . “But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

On this ninth day of the Nuns on the Bus Tour, we encountered more of the heartbreak and hope that we enter more deeply into each day on this journey throughout U.S. cities and towns.

Today, we departed early from our overnight stay at the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester, New York and began our day as we always do with communal prayer. Followed by a long period of silent meditation and Mass scripture readings, many of our morning reflections were from our stops yesterday in Buffalo and Rochester, New York.

Some Sisters reflected on the radicalness of the healthcare provided at St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center in Rochester, New York. Established in 1993 as a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph by a former community organizer Sister, the center provides treatment for more than 1,000 walk in clients a year.  The Center is run by a small staff and more than 150 volunteer medical professionals who are able to fulfill their original purpose for studying or practicing medicine by serving the working poor and others in need. We heard directly from one patient who shared her story as the center provides wrap-around services by providing food, hygiene bags, voter registration, housing referrals, and legal services referrals.

1rochester1Other Sisters shared about the stories heard from the more than 200 people gathered at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School for our daily caucus events in each city. Sisters reflected on the stories heard from those whose voices are intentionally silenced by institutions because of racism, the challenges of our current democracy that doesn’t allow everyone to participate fully in society, problems faced by those who cannot afford insurance, and the countless issues faced by the homeless in their communities.

These stories, like the stories Jesus told, stretch our imaginations to envision a new society so we can work to make it happen. The last question we ask participants at our caucuses is what would our country look like if there were no barriers to healthcare, housing, living wages, family-friendly workplaces, full participation in democracy by all, and citizenship.  The responses to these questions are pondered and discussed at small tables and then shared with the larger group help all of us to tap into our creativity to dream it so we can build it.

1albany2Following prayer this morning, we then made our way to the New York State Capital Building steps where again we heard parables from those on the margins so that more people may hear, see, and understand what is called forth from us to be disciples of Christ in the world today. We heard the story of one woman of the Working Family Coalition and part of the Fight for $15 and a Union movement and how she struggles daily to support her infant and five-year-old son as a loyal hardworking fast-food worker and how she had to choose again between giving birth to her son and losing her job that supports her family. We heard from the local Amalgamated Transit Union president Cory Bixby about the importance of workers’ rights and from Reverend Emily McNeil, Director of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York about the need for a living wage, fair share taxation, and a stronger democratic process. Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of Network proclaimed that “policies made a lot of these problems and policies can fix these problems.” Congressman Paul Tonko declared that the Bus is powered by the people and indeed it is. It is powered by the parables, the stories of heartbreak and hope, of all those we meet and who sign their name to the bus to commit to doing their part to bring justice and joy into the world for everyone.

Reflection on Buffalo-Rochester: Tending the Body of Christ

Reflection: Tending the Body of Christ: Reweaving the fabric of society

Sister Jan Cebula, OSF
July 21, 2016

“…so we, though many, we are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” Rom 12:3-8

So began Day 9 of Nuns on the Bus: Mend the Gaps: Reweave the Fabric of Society.

As we prayed with this scripture at the start of our day, we could not foresee how immersed we would be in the experience of being One Body. How it would unfold all around us, embrace us and touch us so deeply.

Each night we reflect on the day’s experience and on the previous evening, we talked about how some people are invisible to others; particularly people of color and those who have been marginalized by society. Perhaps the key to reweaving the fabric is connecting people, particularly with people who are the most impacted, we speculated.

1buffaloOn our schedule was a stop at the Homeless Jesus statue outside of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Buffalo. Hmm, I thought. I had seen photos of it, but why stop here? By the time we stepped back on the bus, how grateful we would be for Rev. Will Mebane’s persistent invitation!

Buffalo is experiencing a type of rebirth, with lots of redevelopment, but not everyone was benefiting, Rev. Will told us. So he set about reconnecting the church with the homeless and others left out, left behind. It began simply by seeing and paying attention to those members of the Body of Christ. And it was apparent that the seeing and connecting keeps deepening, unfolding and expanding.

Rev. Bill invited us into a conversation with representatives of Concerned Clergy Coalition of Western New York, Gameliel of Western New York (a coalition of 85 congregations, labor unions and other organizations), the Coalition for Economic Justice, Catholic Charities and Friends of the Night People. And Congressman Brian Higgins joined in. They spoke of the abject poverty in the area—over 40%–and their efforts for racial and economic justice. “We are willing to lock arms with anyone and everyone,” Rev. Will explained. With tears at times, they told stories about how their relationships with “the least” had been transformative.

Details of what they said and even the words they spoke elude me now, but their passion and energy remain. And so do the lessons they taught about being members of the Body of Christ and about reweaving the fabric of society. It is about wholeness; of individuals and the entire body. Of reconnecting people, the personal with the systemic. Of seeing the whole and recognizing the connection to damaging policies and working to change them. Of ever expanding and inclusive relationships. Of being deliberate and intentional, grounded in deep faith and acting with courage.

We emerged from the conversation to the space outside the cathedral for a short public program and were greeted by a diverse crowd and buzz of activity. When I spotted the t-shirt “The church has left the building,” I thought “How true about what’s happening here, about Nuns on the Bus”. We hadn’t yet seen the Homeless Jesus a short distance away.

Then I saw it. Jesus sleeping on a bench, wounds in his feet exposed. Everything we had just heard and felt, depicted here. Calling us all to wholeness. Impelling us to go on.

Deeply moved, we boarded the bus and headed to Rochester to be surprised by another Body of Christ experience.

1rochesterSister of St. Joseph Chris Wagner invited us to tour and learn about St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center, a primary integrated health care center. Fifty two percent of Rochester’s children live in poverty and 70% are trauma survivors and the center is located in the midst of a low-income neighborhood. Most of the people who come there are uninsured or unable to afford health care with the insurance they do have.

It was clear that the focus is the health and wholeness of both the people who are served and work there. Over time, they have developed an integrated system, with all under one roof: full primary care, specialties such as cardiology and oncology, mental health services, dental, x-ray and lab. There are even body rooms with chiropractic, massage and physical therapy services. The 18 staff and over 250 volunteers love working there; unconfined by time restraints, they are allowed to practice medicine in the way they were trained to and want to. Care is customized to the individual.

The broader issues of health care policy issues and structural racism are also being addressed, witnessing to the wholeness.

And we’re riding the Bus connecting what’s happening in local areas all across the country to advocate for just federal policies.

As we left, I noticed a sign on the wall that read “I pin my hopes to quiet processes and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place.” (Rufus Jones).

A good reminder of day 9: living as a member of the Body of Christ; reconnecting, mending the gaps, reweaving the fabric of society and creating wholeness.

Travel Log: Rochester

Travel Log: Rochester

Sister Eileen Reilly, SSND and Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDDeN
July 20, 2016

1rochesterOn Wednesday afternoon, we headed to St. Joseph Neighborhood Center in Rochester, New York. The medical center provides comprehensive care for the unemployed, uninsured or those with limited health care coverage. When we asked about their staffing, the director told us that they had 18 employees and 250 volunteers. Those volunteers include medical professionals from many different disciplines so the center can truly provide for almost all the physical and mental health needs of their clients in one location.

The personal respect given to each patient along with a thorough interdisciplinary approach in meeting the needs of the patient is the best that I have seen in this country. The community based center is an effective model for delivery of health care services. After the site visit, a rally was held with folks from the neighborhood signing onto the bus.

SistersinRochesterIn the evening we held a caucus to Mend the Gaps at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, NY. Well over two hundred people attended and, in both in small and large groups, they shared the disparities of income and wealth inequality in their community and what they envisioned would be needed to Mend the Gaps.

When asked to name the gaps, poetically and poignantly, one of the gaps named was the “intentional silence” that can often surround the controversial issues.

It was especially inspiring to see that a large number of youth had come out for the event. Two of these high school students spoke about their advantages as students at a wealthy suburban school where the expectation is that every student will graduate from college, while just a few miles away there are schools that are underfunded and there is little expectation at those schools that students would even graduate from high school, let alone attend college. It was powerful to see these students aware of their own privilege and their commitment to Mend the Gaps!

There was a vision among the participants for affordable, quality housing and safe neighborhoods for all, where children would have playgrounds and everyone would know each other. It was a beautiful vision that seemed to be shared by the whole community.

After discussing the gaps and how to mend them, everyone was invited to sign a pledge card and there was great energy and enthusiasm for signing the bus!

See also:
Slideshow: St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center
Slideshow: Rochester Caucus
Reflection: Tending the Body of Christ, Reweaving the fabric of society