From the Archives: Centering Encounter for 50 Years
Sr. Mara Rutten, RSM
April 7, 2022
As we get ready for our 50th Anniversary Advocates Training and Gala next week, I invite you to reflect on the words of Sr. Jan Cebula, OSF:
“Yes, we face some critical choices as we decide
what kind of a people-a country-we want to be. 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?”
~ Sister Jan Cebula, OSF, Nuns on the Bus 2016
In recent years, NETWORK continued to build on the legacy set by the lobbyists and organizers who came before, harnessing the power of community to advocate for federal policy change.
From 2012 up through a virtual campaign in 2020, NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus trips encouraged communities across the country to share their stories of how national policy issues of immigration, health care, and federal budgets are not just statistics, but have real impact on their personal experiences.
NETWORK lobbyists and organizers worked with people in the communities the Bus visited to meet with Members of Congress and advocate for policies that better serve their families and communities.
Throughout 2019 and in early 2020, we hosted roundtable discussions listening to diverse groups of more than 250 people living in rural communities all across the United States. NETWORK published a report titled “Raising Rural Voices,” lifting up their hopes and hardships, to help guide federal policy decisions in Washington.
“This report reflects the ‘active listening’ that doesn’t occur frequently enough within states or with policymakers in Washington. Too many decisions are made without understanding the perspective of rural residents or acknowledging the values of shared obligations.”
~ Kathleen Sebelius, Former Kansas Governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Forward to “Raising Rural Voices”
And friend, over the last year the NETWORK community has continued to prioritize encounter in our organizing. Just last December, more than 80 Catholic Sisters and their advocacy partners rallied outside the White House to bear witness to their experiences serving migrants at the Southern Border and protest the inhumane misuse of Title 42 and call for its end. While strides forward have been made, there is still much to do in order to build a humane and just asylum system.
As we celebrate NETWORK’s 50th Anniversary, we recommit to centering encounter in our advocacy. This important work can only happen in community, and we are grateful to count you as part of our NETWORK community.
I have enjoyed sharing my stories with you over the past few weeks. Through the many changes in technology and shifts in politics over the years, NETWORK has remained steadfast in our political ministry. Together, we will continue to work for economic and social transformation for many years to come.
Read From the Archives: NETWORK’s Vision Comes to Life
Read From the Archives: Spirit at Work from the Beginning
Read From the Archives: Called to Challenge the Treatment of Poverty