Category Archives: Nuns on the Bus

Travel Log: Santa Monica, Los Angeles, and Pasadena

Travel Log: Santa Monica, Los Angeles, and Pasadena

Sister Julie Fertsch, SSJ
October 8, 2018

What an unbelievable first day! Every moment of it was so full–sacred, privileged, and special. We were all so incredibly humbled and deeply inspired!  What a gift!

At 8:30 a.m., after a healthy breakfast and a fruitful morning prayer, we loaded up the bus and headed out for our kickoff event at Ocean View Park in Santa Monica, CA.  We received quite a welcome from the many supporters who were anxiously awaiting our arrival.  There, we heard from Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Representative Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Angela and Myka Eilers from the Little Lobbyists , Joe Sanberg of CalEITC4me, Gene Sperling, Former Director of the National Economic Council, and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.  These fine women, men, and a little girl named Myka challenged us to come together, to remember that we are united,

and to speak out and to share the stories of the families who are struggling the most.  They called us stand up for the children in this country, to hold our elected officials accountable, and to remember that WHO WE VOTE FOR MATTERS!  They reminded us that our national budget is a reflection of our values, our priorities, and how we affirm the dignity of the human person, and they inspired us to take care of each other, to listen to each other, to feed the hungry and to be beacons of light and surpluses of hope in these very dark times.

At the end of the program, Rabbi Sharon Brous offered the blessing: “Each of us is called to do whatever we can to heal the world and bring about the Kingdom of God. Go and help free us from a politics that conceals, marginalizes, disenfranchises, and steals from those who need the most, a politics which hatred, intolerance, and heartlessness poisons the water of our nation.  Go and proclaim liberty throughout the land. Go, and remind our nation, aching under the weight of injustice, that it is precisely in the dark of night that we can see the stars. Go, go in peace.”

After the crowd signed their pledge cards and the Bus, we made our way to our next venue: Homeboy Industries.  Homeboy Industries “provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community.  Each year, over 10,000 former gang members from across Los Angeles come through Homeboy Industries’ doors in an effort to make a positive change.” (from Homeboy Industries Website) Boris, Janet, Christina, Selena, George, and Allison created an incredible experience for us!  The “Nuns on the Bus” had the opportunity to assemble a tray of cookies in the bakery with Christina and to hear a bit of her story.  She reminded us of the importance of opportunities and chances and articulated how Homeboy Industries gave her just that…the opportunity and chance to become the woman she is today…the woman her children are so proud of.  We met George, the security guard for Homeboy Industries, who often comes in on his days off to give tours to groups like ours.  He found his road to recovery and healing because of his love for his children.  After many years, he still returns monthly to juvenile hall to speak with the kids he encounters.  He said “If I can save one by my witness, then that is enough.”  Boris and Janet, a newly married couple, have worked together for a number of years at Homeboy Industries. They also inspired us with their stories of radical transformation, of the many ways they found “home” at Homeboy Industries, and how they continue to feel excited and grateful to be a part of such a wonderful organization.

Finally, we closed up our first full day with a Town Hall for Justice at All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA.  There, we received an overwhelmingly warm welcome from the community and the Rector of the Church, Mike Kinman.  We heard from Representative Judy Chu (CA-27) and then the group of us engaged the community in a way that really brought Tax Justice to life.  There was great energy! What a gift to hear the concerns, ideas, and solutions that the group surfaced.

Earlier in the day, Joe Sanberg of CalEITC4me used a quote written by Dr. Suess:  “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”  All day, we had the fine, beautiful privilege of meeting people on the journey who do, in fact, care a whole awful lot.  These caring people shine like stars in very dark times.  Let us train our eyes to recognize, see, and focus our attention on them! And let us continue to be amazed by the gift of their light and love!

View additional photos of these events on the NETWORK Lobby Flickr Page.

Bus Blessing 2018 – Rabbi Sharon Brous

Bus Blessing 2018 – Rabbi Sharon Brous

Rabbi Sharon Brous
October 8, 2018

Dr. King famously said that the Kingdom of God as a universal reality remains “not yet.”

We’re gathered here today because we persist in believing in the Kingdom of God. For me, as a Jew, that looks like a world in which human dignity is real. In which every single person is treated as an image of God, with infinite worth, absolutely unique and precious in the eyes of God and humanity.

And the pain point of this moment in time, of this era we’re living through, is that every day we are reminded of how far we are from the realization of that vision.

We are, to say the least, not there yet.

We are not there yet, when a Supreme Court Justice is confirmed amid multiple credible accusations of sexual assault, messaging to women, trans and nonbinary folks, to men and boys who are victims of sexual violence that they, and their trauma, are a liability, an exaggeration, a hassle and a distraction, and can’t we just quiet down and let them get back to the business of securing partisan advantage?

No, the Kingdom of God is not at hand, when young mother who flees violence in El Salvador arrives at the US border and is given 5 minutes to say goodbye to her two small boys, who are then ripped from her arms in a policy of wanton cruelty. We’re not there yet, when we realize how little those with power in our country care that even those children who are reunited with their parents—the lucky ones—will be traumatized for many years to come.

We’re not there yet when the justice department actively works to roll back civil rights achievements and 23 of 50 states have adopted harsh voter suppression laws in the last eight years alone. When Mexicans and Muslims and all People of Color are monsterized and criminalized, when the President fuels antisemitism and then shrugs when a JCC in Virginia is spray-painted with swastikas.

No, the Kingdom of God is not yet at hand, when Callie Greer from Alabama—whom I marched with in DC at the Poor People’s Campaign—wails in agony as she describes her daughter, Venus, dying in her arms from a cancer that could have been treated had Alabama not refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. We’re not there yet when a quarter of a million Americans to die from poverty related issues in the US each year.

We’re not there yet when kids are afraid they might get shot in school. When the prison population has grown from 200,000 to 2.2 million in the last 40 years, and Puerto Rico is abandoned. When our planet aches under the weight of fossil fuels and even still, our government obsessively and furiously prioritizes deregulation.

We’re not there yet, because today our country is driven by fear, mired in a failed moral narrative, contaminated by corruption, hypocrisy and indecency. Our nation—the richest in the world, boasts 140 million who are poor or live in poverty (with women, children and those with disabilities disproportionately affected).

It’s almost too much to bear. Dr. King was right, the Kingdom of God is “not yet.”

But he didn’t leave it there. Dr. King also quoted the historian Charles Beard in saying, “when it is dark enough you can see the stars.”

We’re out here today to train our eyes to see the stars.

And here’s what they look like: they look like Sister Simone Campbell, and these holy sisters, who are “On the Road to Mar-a-Lago.” Who will engage thousands and thousands of Americans at 54 events in 21 states over the course of the next 27 days, and then will land at Mar-a-Lago, where they will speak truth to power.

These sisters and their supporters of all races and ethnicities and religious traditions, are calling us to seek out the stars in the night sky. Stand up, they’re saying, and fight for the America you know is waiting to be born. A new America, fierce, gorgeous and fair. An America built on justice, fairness, and mercy. An America that lifts up the widow, the orphan and the stranger, that stands not ON, but WITH the most vulnerable.

This message matters more now than ever before, because today it is supremely clear: either we work to dismantle oppressive systems, or our inaction becomes the mortar that sustains them.

The Kingdom of God has not yet arrived. We’re painfully far from our collective vision of a world redeemed. But each of us is called לְתַקֵּן עוֹלָם בְּמַלְכוּת שַׁדַּי – to do whatever we can to heal the world and bring about the Kingdom of God.

That’s why we need this movement; that’s why we bless this moment.

Sisters, we send you off on your journey with blessings.

Go, and help free us from a politics that invisibilizes, marginalizes and steals from those who need most, a politics in which hatred, intolerance and heartlessness poison the water of our nation.

Go, and proclaim liberty throughout the land.

Go, and remind our nation, aching under the weight of oppression and injustice, that it is precisely in the dark of night that we can see the stars.

צֵאתְכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם—Go, go in peace.

Nuns on the Bus Getting Back on the Road

Nuns on the Bus Getting Back on the Road

August 20, 2018

The Nuns on the Bus are going back on the road – this time driving across the country from California to Mar-a-Lago! We’ll be exposing the lies and telling the truth about the harmful effects of the 2017 tax law at every stop along the way.

We will hold members of Congress accountable for their votes in favor of this disastrous tax law. Those votes, as Sister Simone said, made it “crystal-clear who the Republican Members of Congress serve, and it is not the men, women, and children who Jesus championed.” Join us on the bus!

See our route and RSVP for events in your state:

Faces of our Spirit-Filled Network: Sister Erin Zubal

Faces of our Spirit-Filled Network: Sister Erin Zubal

Sister Erin Zubal
June 4, 2018

How did you first learn about NETWORK?

I learned about NETWORK from the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland Social Justice Office when I first entered the community.  NETWORK has informed and educated me on many social justice issues, which in turn has empowered me to do advocacy work.

What inspired you to get involved and join NETWORK?

I was inspired to take action with Nuns on the Bus in 2016.  The goal of the trip was “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 a message of inclusion.” Our world is in great need of this and I believe it is important to advocate for systemic change that seeks to address the needs of our brothers and sisters who are underserved. What better way to do this than travel the country to listen to the realities and lived experiences of people in our own communities—and then take those stories to our elected officials and encourage them to legislate for the common good.

What issue area(s) are you most passionate about?

Housing, healthcare and advocating for a faithful budget.

How does your faith inspire you to work for justice?

My faith has deeply inspired my work for peace and justice.  As an Ursuline Sister of Cleveland, the story and legacy of martyrs Dorothy Kazel, Ita Ford, Maura Clarke and Jean Donovan have had a tremendous impact on my call to work for systemic change in our world.  Even though I was not yet born when the women were killed, their history and legacy shared with me by my sisters has formed and shaped me as a woman religious. We must continue the work of those who have gone before us—and be faithful to the call as women of faith, committed to contemplation, justice and compassion in all we do.

Is there any quote that motivates or nourishes you that you would like to share?

“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” Lilla Watson

What social movement has inspired you?

The youth of our world who are standing up and allowing their voices to be heard on critical issues.  I am so inspired and filled with hope witnessing the good work of the next generation.

Erin Zubal is an Ursuline Sister of Cleveland. She currently serves as Guidance Counselor at Cleveland Central Catholic High School in Cleveland, Ohio.

Blog: It Seems a Little Odd

It Seems a Little Odd

By Marge Clark, BVM
September 26, 2012

At least 200 members, or supporters, of “Nuns on the Bus” continue our work to educate the public in-person and through press events, and to challenge members of Congress who had voted in favor of the House-passed FY13 federal budget.

On September 24, “Nuns on the Ferry” took the message to New York City. Blaire Bartlett, scheduler to Representative Grimm, agreed the week before to try to schedule a meeting, despite his packed schedule visiting the elderly in Manhattan- perhaps at 11:00, prior to the pre-scheduled 11:30 press conference at South Terminal, she would get back to me at the end of the week. She also arranged for our meeting at 2:00 at the Staten Island office.

The end of the week came, with NO call back.

  • 9:15 AM on Monday morning – I called from the train to be told she was in Brooklyn for the week.
  • 11:35 AM – Blaire returned my call, Rep. Grimm would be glad to meet in Brooklyn office at 2:00. (I communicated that we would have people meeting us on Staten Island, whom we could not reach before then. She said she would talk with him about another time and call back in 5 minutes.)
  • 12:30 PM – press conference on Staten Island – still no return call.
  • 2:00 PM – meeting with Aaron Ceder and David Carr at the Staten Island office.
  • 2:55 PM – I called Blaire on her cell phone. She said she would check again and call in a few minutes.
  • 3:30 PM – On the Ferry, Blaire calls to say there is no time to meet later, the Representative has a 5:30 event.

By the time Blaire phoned –we were back on the ferry; and had read Representative Grimm’s press commentabout “Nuns on the Ferry.”

His opening comment included, it was “a little odd that Catholic nuns who have dedicated their lives to serving God and the community are now focused on something as political as the Ryan-Romney budget.”

I found it a little odd that he went on to say what Catholic Sisters should be doing. It does not seem to be within his purview to determine that, which I expressed to Blaire.

Of course his desire for us is that we work against abortion, gay marriage and the like. I related to Blaire that St. Paul, in a letter to the first letter to the Corinthians (12: 14-26) said that we are all parts of the same body, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? … If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members yet one body” (19-21). Just as each person has different gifts and different callings; every organization has a different calling, and different gifts. There are many Catholic organizations that dedicate themselves to issues named by Rep. Grimm. Yet, far fewer are dedicated to the life issues of hunger, housing, child care, healthcare and other issues that provide life and health and development.

Blaire agreed to ensure a meeting between the Nuns and Representative Grimm in November, when Congress returns.

Blog: A Congressional Tribute to Sr. Catherine Pinkerton

Blog: A Congressional Tribute to Sr. Catherine Pinkerton

Jean Sammon
Jan 07, 2011

Congressman Dennis Kucinich must be glad to have former NETWORK Lobbyist Catherine Pinkerton back in his district.

NETWORK staff, and many of our members and partners in Washington, were sad to see Sr. Catherine Pinkerton retire in March of this year, and return to her community in Cleveland. I can assure you that she is not retired from working for social justice.

While visiting Catherine in Cleveland during the Christmas season, I just happened to see a leather folder embossed with the seal of the House of Representatives on her desk. It contained a copy of a speech that her Congressman, Dennis Kucinich, made in her honor in September, which is now part of the Congressional Record.

Read the tribute here.

Catherine told me that Rep. Kucinich came to see her at the Congregation of St. Joseph center earlier in the year when he heard that she had returned to Cleveland. Then in September, a staff member from his office delivered the copy of the tribute and read it aloud to her and several of her sisters. (He would have liked a larger audience, but Catherine, with characteristic modesty, nixed the idea of calling all the sisters together for that.)

Catherine and I spent some time discussing the current political situation in Washington and Ohio. Those of you who know Catherine can be assured that she is adjusting to this new phase of her life, and will be working on local and national issues with her community’s justice team.

Blog: NETWORK is Surrounded by Jesuit Energy

NETWORK is Surrounded by Jesuit Energy

By Casey Schoeneberger
November 16, 2010

Jean, Mary and I had the privilege of attending the Ignatian Solidarity Network Teach-In in Georgetown this past weekend. The teach-in is a gathering of Jesuit schools from all over the country who get together to learn and lobby on pressing human rights issues. This year’s ISN teach-in focused on immigration reform, climate change, and closing the School of Americas. This annual fall event is not only a chance to widen our exposure to crucial justice issues, and tell others about NETWORK, but to see old friends.

It is nothing less than fascinating, witnessing those whom I knew as fellow classmates in college educating their own students on how to lead lives that do justice. In just a few short years I have seen my fellow classmates go from students to young teachers and advocates, educating young people who one day will continue their own work on behalf of people who are poor and marginalized.

I’ll be honest and admit that I became a little disheartened by the recent election results, but this past weekend I found a renewed strength at the ISN teach-in. Individuals and schools were propelled by their faith background to come to D.C and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Groups traveled hundreds, or even thousands, of miles to have their voice heard and see policy in action, and I have the privilege to work and live in D.C, witnessing the policy-making process every day.

I’m encouraged not only by these students’ enthusiasm and lobbying efforts, but by the fact that they brought the gift of their enthusiasm here to D.C, giving me a renewed sense of hope. Elections may not have gone my way, but this past weekend, there were thousands of young people in D.C who did not allow themselves to become discouraged by the election, standing strong for those marginalized in our society.