Category Archives: NunsontheBus2020

Bus Blog: Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Alliance for Fair Food

Bus Blog: Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Alliance for Fair Food

Caraline Feairheller
October 13, 2020

On Thursday October 8, The Nuns on the Bus Virtual Tour had a site visit with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Alliance for Fair Food. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) is located in Immokalee Florida and is a worker-based human rights organization that fights against human trafficking and gender-based violence. The Alliance for Fair Food (AFF) is a coalition of CIW, Interfaith Action, Student Farmworker Alliance, and Just Harvest that joined together to build collective strength and stand with farmworkers as they advance their struggle for justice and dignity. During the Visit, Sister Simone Campbell spoke with Nely, Julia, Silvia, and Cruz from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers as well as Uriel from the Alliance for Fair Food.

Organizing efforts for both the CIW and AFF begin with this question of “who has power?” Their work has taught them that by gathering together and targeting the massive food corporation who use their power to leverage farmworkers, they are able to make workplace changes such as increased wages and greater protections against violence. During the conversation Silvia emphasized how “gender-based and sexual violence continue to be a big problem in this industry. Through the Alliance for Fair Food we have been able to see a significant change in terms of protections and creating a culture where women are able to speak up without fear of retaliation.”

In Immokalee, Florida there have been over 2,250 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Due to a variety of factors in housing, access to medical care, and transportation farmworkers are uniquely vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as Cruz said during the site visit, “all our small actions add up to something momentous. Those small actions have meant a difference to farmworkers having their rights respected” One of those small actions the CIW is asking us to take is to sign the petition calling for the government to take the necessary steps to protect essential farmworkers.

Watch the Nuns on the Bus site visit to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers/Alliance for Fair Food to learn more. Watch on Facebook or YouTube.

Nuns on the Bus 2020 Tells Stories of St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center and Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP

Nuns on the Bus 2020 Tells Stories of St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center and Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP

Adrian Dominican Sisters
October 12, 2020

In the weeks before the November 3 national election, two stories related to the Adrian Dominican Sisters are among hundreds that are told by Nuns on the Bus 2020. Among the Nuns on the Bus is Adrian Dominican Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP, United Nations Representative for the Dominican Sisters Conference. In addition, the story of St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center – founded in 2002 by Sisters Carol Weber OP, and Judy Blake, CSJ – was told on September 29, 2020, during a virtual tour by Nuns on the Bus.

Sponsored by NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Nuns on the Bus explores election-year social justice issues through site visits to social service and community agencies, town hall meetings, dialogues, state voting information, and short videos featuring “nuns on the bus” who are involved in social service and social justice issues.

In her video, Sister Durstyne speaks of her ministry at the United Nations and of her special concerns for the issues of equality for women, immigration, nuclear weapons, and climate change. She encourages voters to “make this election count” and to vote for candidates who will move the world forward.

During her visit to St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Director of NETWORK, interviewed Sisters Carol and Judy, as well as staff members Tiffany and Christine, who had participated in the Center’s programs.

Sister Judy explained the unique origin of the Center: a recurring dream that she experienced during a 30-day retreat. In response, Sisters Judy and Carol began a street ministry to the people of Flint.

The Center occupies a former grammar school owned by St. Luke Parish. Programs include a Wednesday women’s group; a food pantry; a hot meal program; a literacy center, which offers both adult literacy training and preparation for GED; an employment preparation program for men and women; and social enterprises, such as commercial sewing and lawn care, which enable graduates to further develop their skills and work ethic.

Sisters Judy and Carol told Sister Simone that, because of the pandemic, many of the Center’s programs have had to be adapted. Learners and tutors in the literacy program still work one-on-one, Sister Carol said, but now they meet via Zoom.

The Commercial Sewing Enterprise – which once produced items such as medical scrubs, lab coats, designer aprons, and stadium blankets – now focuses entirely on masks, Sister Carol said. To date, women in Commercial Sewing have made more than 13,000 masks. “We really try to help our community mask up,” she explained. “The ZIP code we’re in is one of the highest in Flint for COVID.”

While Sisters Carol and Judy spoke of the history and programs of the N.E.W. Life Center, Tiffany and Christine told their own stories: the impact that the Center has had on their lives.

Tiffany recalled discovering the Center while she was in the midst of depression, “on the verge of giving up.” Suffering from a back problem and unable to work, she heard about the food drive at the Center and brought some food from her own pantry. Immediately upon walking into the Center, she said, she felt love. “I felt like I’d been around there forever,” she said. She was invited immediately to the women’s Wednesday group, became involved in GED, and participated in the employment training class.

“Right now, I pretty much run the donations department and I love the community,” Tiffany said. “They helped me get out of that dark place. I’m just the giving-est girl now. I didn’t know I was that kind.”

Christine had always loved helping people and hoped to start a homeless shelter. She moved from Flint to Georgia but returned home when her grandmother – now doing well – was diagnosed with cancer. She came to the Center at the suggestion of her sister, who told her of the employment program. “Coming here, it just opened up so many doors,” she said. “Everybody was so nice…. I can actually live my life now. All of these wonderful, beautiful people are behind me.”

Both Tiffany and Christine are enthusiastic about continuing their work with the Center and helping with proposed programs, such as outreach to women suffering from abuse. “I’m looking forward to expanding this program, continuing this vision,” Tiffany said. “I would love to stay on board.”

Christine also expressed her joy at continue to work at St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center. “I look forward to working here,” she said. “I like helping people, seeing people with a smile on their face.”

Article originally published on the Adrian Dominican Sisters website.

Bus Blog: The Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa

Bus Blog: The Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa

Caraline Feairheller 
October 01, 2020

On Wednesday September 30, the Nuns on the Bus virtually visited the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa. The Center for Worker Justice (CWJ) was founded to unite low-wage workers in Eastern Iowa across race and immigration statute to achieve social and economic justice through education, direct services and community alliance. The CWJ prioritizes defending worker’s rights, improving housing options for low-income residents, and providing assistance to those affected by immigration policies.

During the virtual conversation, Sister Simone Campbell was joined by the Interim Executive Director Mazahir Salih, the CWJ President Marcela Hurtado, the CWJ Vice President Kamel Elgiseer, the CWJ Leader Bijou Maliabo, the CWJ Leader and Board Member Margarita Baltazar and community organizer Mayra Hernandez.


Since its founding in 2012, the CWJ has had several campaign victories such as establishing the first Midwestern Community ID program for Johnson County. Community IDs are important as they allow for people to access library cards, open bank accounts, acquire medication, and create a sense of belonging.

The CWJ also works to raise the minimum wage. Mazahir Salih shared her story saying, “When I came to this country back in 1997, I worked as a cashier at McDonald’s and they paid me minimum wage which was $5.25. In 23 years, the federal minimum wage has only risen $2.” In order to combat this injustice, the CWJ organized that the county level to raise the minimum wage to $10.10. However, the state of Iowa argued that individual counties could not raise their own minimum wage, so the CWJ created and tracks local businesses that have committed to a $10.10 wage.

Beyond organizing, the CWJ also focuses on education. As CWJ President Marcela Hurtado said “we want to educate the community to know their rights!” as well as “educate our white neighbors, who may think we [immigrants] are all the same.” The immigrant experience is broad and those who are most vulnerable are those who do not have access to government resources and language accessible resources. However, as the virtual conversation demonstrated, the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa is about meeting the needs of the people and if there is a need they will respond.

Watch the Nuns on the Bus site visit to The Center for Workers Justice of Eastern Iowa to learn more. Watch on Facebook or YouTube.

Bus Blog: “What Am I to Do?”

Bus Blog: “What Am I to Do?”

Sister Cecelia Cavanaugh
October 01, 2020

I’ve been thinking a lot about “posture” these days. One of the “postures” I’ve pondered is leaning, specifically leaning in. At the first Town Hall in Erie, I watched all the participants pay exquisite attention to those who were speaking, either in a large group or in our break out groups. Perhaps because of computer volume settings or connections, many literally moved their faces and ears closer to the screen. I wondered if our human need for connection and tactile communication might have contributed. I marveled at how all those present at the Town Hall were truly present in their bodies as well as their spirits as they leaned in toward each other. Later that week, I attended the Town Hall in Buffalo. In addition to the attention I’ve already described, in my small group, we worked together to help one member think about how to respond to a particularly difficult conversation. Our listening and suggestions truly provided support and something and someones on whom she could lean. During this week’s Dialogue Across Geographic Divides, I marveled at the leaning in I witnessed among six women ministering in urban and rural settings in my home state. As each described the reality and particular challenges faced in her circumstances, the others leaned in and offered suggestions and resources. They really could not help themselves! They had to reach out, lean in and network. I found this very heartening and supportive.

This morning I gathered with a group of sisters for our three times a week prayer and sharing and the post-debate pain was palpable. I watched tear stained faces and listened to hurting questions and petitions. “Lord, have mercy!” “God, help us!” I felt my own constant question, “What am I to do?” resonate with the prayer and questions of my sisters.

Yesterday, September 29, was the feast of the Archangels Gabriel, Raphael and Michael. I listened to the first reading, so familiar to us who love the hymn “On Eagles’ Wings.” As I pondered God’s promises of safety, defense, prosperity, safety and long life, I returned in spirit to Matamoros, Mexico where I volunteered in the refugee camp created by the US “Migrant Protection Policy.” I wondered how my dear neighbors living in simple tents for over a year were experiencing the presence of angels. Then I recalled Michael’s name and question, “Who is like God?”’ and realized again my call – our call – to be “like God,” to be angels in this world. How is this about posture? Well, a memory helps me respond to the President’s words last night addressed to the Proud Boys, “Stand down; stand by.” Reading that they rejoice in this order and that they’ve already had patches made with the quote dismayed me. I prayed, who has asked me to “Stand by?” With whom and for whom do I assume such a posture?

When I was a young sister in formation, we took classes with George Aschenbrenner SJ. Discussing the vows, he told us that Saint Ignatius of Loyola urged the Jesuits to live the vow of celibacy or consecrated chasitity “like the angels.” Father Aschenbrenner exhorted us NOT to try to be bodiless cherubs flitting around, but rather to understand angels as “mighty, concentrated personalities, standing always in God’s presence, ready to do God’s bidding at a moment’s notice.” This is the sense I have of St. Michael, for sure. It describes the strength, dedication and focus of those I met in Matamoros – the persons forced to live there and all who minister to and advocate for them. I believe it is the posture I am being called to assume, into which I pray to grow. It describes the community I experience as a Nun on the Bus.

Spirit-filled voters gather in Detroit

Spirit-filled voters gather in Detroit

Sister Jan Kilian
October 1, 2020

“I think I can! I think I can!” said the little train chugging up the mountain; so says this big bus virtually zooming across the United States.

With Sr. Simone Campbell at the wheel, the Network bus made it to the Carney Latin American Solidarity Archive, or CLASA, at the University of Detroit Mercy on Oct. 1. We were co-hosted by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Gail Presbey from CLASA described the archived stories of immigrants struggling for ways to make a livelihood in their new land. The stories we continue to hear of racial and gender discrimination, poverty, disenfranchisement, nonacceptance into community, impairment of the right to vote, struggles to welcome the stranger — all are archived even as they continue today. Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Elizabeth Walters and Barb Beasley described their work with yearlong education and action networks to prepare for the upcoming election.

We spent a few moments breathing in deeply and breathing out slowly in prayer, led by Barb Beasley.

We share the air on Earth. We breathed this shared air into our lungs during prayer. All together, we breathed this air out of our lungs. We live in and walk through air we share, every living being on Earth; we are united as one in the very breath we share. We are all in this together.

Voting is a communal action and a moral imperative. As the discussion began, I was reminded of a statement from a previous town hall: “Bad politicians are elected by good citizens who don’t vote.”

Some of the concerns raised by these spirit-filled voters in Detroit included the right to life, climate change, economics, health care, immigration, racism and getting out the vote. Sister Simone spoke of her new book, Hunger for Hope, which is available through Network. We must bring moral vision to all issues of public life.

[Sr. Jan Kilian is a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls, Minnesota. She has an academic background in hospital medical records, human development, and spiritual direction.]

This blog was originally published on Global Sisters Report.

Where Democracy and Science Fiction Merge

Where Democracy and Science Fiction Merge

Sister Michele Morek
September 25, 2020

I am a 2020 nun on the bus, and it is a “Star Trek” experience.

Instead of climbing on a bus Sept. 25, I walked to the back bedroom of our home in Roeland Park, Kansas, turned on the computer, and — “Beam me up, Scotty” — I was at a town hall in Buffalo, New York, engaging in my first virtual Nuns on the Bus event.

The 2020 Nuns on the Bus tour began Sept. 21 in Pittsburgh, but the official kickoff was Sept. 23 with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Cory Booker, Mary Kay Henry of the Service Employees International Union, the Rev. Willie Barber II, Amy Jo Hutchison, and the Rev. Otis Moss III. I especially liked Amy Jo, who gave a vivid personal account of what it’s like to live in poverty in America.

The bus trip will conclude with a national rally Oct. 23 after crisscrossing 16 states with 63 live events, including town halls and site visits, spreading the message: “Who we elect matters.”

I jumped on the bus because I am worried. How can we have a democracy if we can’t talk to our family or neighbors about things that matter?

The first stop I made on the bus was the town hall for “Spirit-filled voters” in Buffalo. After a quick Zoom tutorial, we heard from Social Service Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, the Catholic lobby for social justice that organizes the bus tour, and three of the Nuns on the Bus — including me! — about why we are multi-issue voters.

All attendees got to talk to each other in small groups in virtual breakout rooms about how our faith informs our political engagement. (It is always good to start a conversation with discovering shared values.) We also discussed what issues we care about and why we are multi-issue voters, before coming back to share in the large group.

From the discussion, I picked up several good tips about how to talk about difficult issues:

  • Tell a personal story about why you feel the way you do about an issue. (Nobody can argue with a personal story.)
  • Ask them how their stories brought them to hold their values and opinions.
  • Listen with attention and compassion.

The really cool thing about this virtual tour? Whether you are a nun in real life or not, you can be a nun on the bus in an interactive game. Personally, I am well on the way to coloring in my bus for a prize. Click on the website to see the many wonderful activities and features. And then just say, “Beam me up, Scotty!”

And follow Network on Facebook and Twitter.

[Ursuline Sr. Michele Morek is Global Sisters Report’s liaison to sisters in North America. Her email address is]

This blog was originally published on Global Sisters Report.

Nuns on the Bus visit St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center on Virtual Tour

Blog: Nuns on the Bus visit St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center on Virtual Tour

Audrey Carroll
September 25, 2020

On Friday, September 25, the Nuns on the Bus Virtual Tour made a site visit to St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center in Rochester, NY. St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center provides comprehensive physical and mental health services to people who are uninsured and under-insured  in and around Rochester. During the visit, Sister Simone Campbell, SSS,  spoke with Robyn Carter, Director of Health Access, Phyllis Jackson, Community Wellness Project Manager, Joel Elliot, Director of Development and Communications, and Sister Christine Wagner, SSJ, Executive Director about the organization’s wholistic approach to providing health care, along with their racial equity work.

According to Sr. Christine, St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center is “at the epicenter of the healthcare crisis, economic crisis, and racial equity crisis.” The services that St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center provides are directly affected by the social determinants of health, such as race, income, gender, age, and more. Surveys determining health and wellness needs for community members are compiled by patients of St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center in order to provide substantial, holistic care. Sr. Christine describes St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center as “fiercely independent,” because the organization is 100% funded by the community. The organization does not take insurance because of the barriers it causes, and does not receive state or federal funding. St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center provides comprehensive care and services that are as accessible as possible to community members so people are not stuck waiting for important care. “We hear so much about why healthcare for all can’t work,” said Phyllis Jackson. “But it’s working!”

Watch the Nuns on the Bus site visit to St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center to learn more. Watch on Facebook or YouTube.

Bus Blog: New York City Town Hall

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.

Bus Blog: New Hour for Women and Children

Bus Blog: New Hour for Women and Children

Caraline Feairheller
September 25, 2020

There are no words to describe the grief of hearing keys jingling down a cell block corridor. There are no words to describe the trauma that long-term isolation can have on a body and mind. Yet, these are common experiences faced by women incarcerated within the United States criminal justice system. The idea that the tremendous trauma created by the U.S carceral system cannot and should not be normalized was the main idea that came out of the September 22nd Nuns on the Bus Virtual Site Visit conversation with New Hour for Women and Children.

New Hour for Women and Children is a Long Island based non-profit founded to provide meaningful support to current and formerly incarcerated women, and their children and families. New Hour was created to address the need for a re-entry program in Long Island, as Executive Director Serene Liguori said “When I got released there was no one there to help me. There was no program to help us. Now, for the first time there is a program on Long Island that supports re-entry.” While the agency may look small, Pamela Neely the Social Justice Coordinator was quick to emphasize that it “gets the work done.” Through serving over 1,000 women in incarceration annually, the numbers only prove her point when comparing the 65% recidivism rate of women who are released from jail to the 2% recidivism rate of women who go through the New Hour program.

The U.S carceral systems measures out punishment in terms of months and years. However, the New Hour Program recognizes that the grief and loss of imprisonment stretches well beyond those years and thus re-entry never stops, it is a lifetime process. Part of this lifetime process is recognizing the reality that all women have faced some form of trauma or violence in their lifetime, so even before experiencing the traumas that come with imprisonment they have their own unique triggers. Program Director Danielle Donaphin emphasized that “I do what I do because I believe in people” and it is this belief in the resilience of these women that the healing process can truly begin. Women, mothers in particular, who make up ¾ of the women behind bars, face unique challenges. Often times, their number one goal is to be reunited with their children and New Hour meets those demands by offering parenting classes and teaching work skills.

As the conversation came to an end, Serenea Liguroi left us with a couple questions that are especially relevant in a moment where prison reform and police accountability are dominating the news streams: “What about the prisons? What about the jails? How do we create equality among those who have been impacted by the carceral system?” We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we can begin by remembering that there is an innate worth in the women who are currently incarcerated those who have been formerly incarcerated. We can begin by remembering that there is a future beyond the prisons walls. We can begin by remembering that we all have the power to change the course of our lives.

Watch the full site visit on Facebook or Youtube.

Bus Blog: New Labor Site Visit

Bus Blog: New Labor Site Visit

Colleen Ross
September 25, 2020

On Thursday, September 24, Nuns on the Bus had a virtual site visit at New Labor, a workers’ rights organization with three centers in New Jersey: New Brunswick, Newark, and Lakewood. During the site visit, Sister Simone met and spoke with Rafael Santiago, a New Labor Member, and Lou Kimmel, Co-Founder and Executive Director of New Labor.

New Labor currently has around 4,000 members who work  in a variety of important sectors in NJ, including: warehousing and logistics, work through temporary employment agencies, domestic work, construction and remodeling, street vending, and other small businesses, including landscaping, restaurant work, and day labor.

New Labor offers trainings for members, fights against wage theft and for safe work conditions, and advocates for just and humane immigration reform and other policies that respect immigrants.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, New Labor’s members have been experiencing many of the negative impacts of the ongoing health and economic crises, and New Labor is at the forefront of organizing to meet those needs.

Watch the full site visit on Facebook or Youtube.