Travel Log: Closing Rally (Philadelphia)
Sister Rochelle Mitchell, SSS
July 29, 2016
It is my good fortune to write the final travel log of this amazing ride on the bus – three weeks, 12 states and 21 cities.
We left Stella Maris Convent early this morning where we had received such kindness and hospitality from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill. We drove to St. Joseph Preparatory School for our final event: a closing rally and blessing.
Father Phil Florio, SJ welcomed us and offered the opening prayer. Our speakers included Mary from POWER, a faith organizing group; Emily from Witnesses to Hunger; Gloria from the New Sanctuary Movement and Terrell a health insurance navigator with Health Federation of Philadelphia. Their reflections were inspiring as well as their lives and their commitment to do their part for the common good.
Sister Simone addressed the group, thanking them for their works of justice and all the efforts they put into organizing this final event. She then put together a “walk through” the tour, where Simone mentioned a number of people she had met along the way and how their stories had touched her and the other Nuns on the Bus. It was quite moving to hear the stories back-to-back like that.
At the end of the rally, we gathered at the bus where the participants added their signatures to the bus – along with the hundreds of men, women and young people whom we met with along the way and they committed to continue to join with others to “Mend the Gaps.”
Together we had a final blessing for the bus, for one another and in Thanksgiving to God for the mighty works we had seen.
After the rally, we sisters said our goodbyes as various ones of us were taken to the airport and Amtrak.
My response to all that has been is gratitude. Gratitude to Sr. Simone and the Network Staff for their vision, creativity and weeks of preparation as well as the incredible amount of coordination that happened each day; gratitude to the communities of Women Religious who were so supportive, to the staff and clientele in the many ministries we visited who shared their stories and to the hundreds of people who came to the caucuses and rallies and blessed us with their concerns and insights.
I believe this part of the journey, this bus ride was really only the beginning and hopefully all of us will return to our homes and places of ministry with a deeper appreciation of “We the People.”