Tag Archives: in the news

Nuns on the Bus 2016

2016busgraphic.pngTomorrow I head to Madison, Wisconsin to join the first leg of the 2016 Nuns on the Bus tour.  I will join a group of ten Catholic Sisters from across the country. We will stop and visit with folks in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio, ending in Cleveland at the Republican Convention. Another group of sisters will then take the bus through the Northeast to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia.

Why are we going on the bus?  You’d have to have been in a deep sleep these last months to not be aware of the general cynical, polarized, and deeply divided nature of our nation’s political climate. There is such fear and hostility in the air, much of it cultivated and exploited.  And of course events from Orlando to Dallas to Baton Rouge seem to have both grabbed the nation’s attention and left a deeply divided society at an impasse. How do we bridge these divides, bring people together, and respond to the very real needs of individuals and families who are struggling?

The Nuns on the Bus will be driving over 2,400 miles this summer to meet with individuals, families, and communities in 13 states and 23 cities over 19 days. We are responding to the unhealthy political climate and divisive rhetoric of this election cycle by  engaging in dialogue about how we can mend the gaps in our society. The goal is 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 our message of inclusion at the Republican and Democratic Conventions and beyond.

Truth be told, I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone when I step onto the bus tomorrow afternoon. Many moons ago, when I was a low-level government worker in Portland, Oregon and long before I listened to the call to become a Catholic Sister, I was afraid of public speaking, and here I am embarking on a week long adventure that entails multiple speaking engagements each day!  Of course, I’ve gotten over much of that fear since then, learned some skills, and had a decade or so to grow into my nun identity. Moreover, I know that answering the invitation to join the bus is part of my deepening call to serve God and God’s people in need.

Of course, I also find inspiration in the example of Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack), the founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace who spoke out for justice whenever she could.

“But it did matter to me a great deal in view of our common humanity and in view of my love for the poor, that I should do all I could for those whom he had loved so well.”

“What misery has been seen–what crime has been committed, even in our time, by unjust pressure on the poor.”

“We read in the holy gospels that ‘Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all manner of sickness, and every infirmity among the people’ (St. Matt. iv. 23). And we also, my pilgrim friends, may go about the Galilee of this world, and preach ‘the gospel of the kingdom.’ It is a gospel of peace, it is a gospel of love, it is a gospel of mercy; it is a gospel for the poor, for the little ones, who live near to the Heart of God.”

I suspect she would have been at home with the Nuns on the Bus!

Please keep everyone involved in the Nuns on the Bus 2016 tour in your prayers this month. I will be writing from the Bus both for the Nuns on the Bus blog on the NETWORK website and for Global Sisters Report.

Resistance to Human Trafficking: Sojourner’s Article

Last month I finished the work on my 122 page thesis for my Masters of Arts of Theology at Catholic Theological Union. The title of my thesis is “Human Trafficking as Social Sin: An Ethic of Resistance.” It was a wonderful opportunity to apply what I had learned in my studies of theological ethics to one of the most important issues of our time. I was also able to draw upon my ministry experiences with survivors of human trafficking and in human trafficking education and advocacy.

sojournerstraffickingseries

This month I was invited to write an article for the Sojourner’s Website for their special series on human trafficking, “Breaking Chains, Raising Voices.”  I took it as an opportunity to condense the main points of my thesis into an 800 word column, “Resistance. Lamentation. Action.”

Resistance might not be the word that comes to mind in response to human trafficking. Most often people speak of “combatting” or “fighting” human trafficking, particularly when it is approached as a crime. But when we consider human trafficking as social sin, one in which ordinary persons are complicit and connected, even if inadvertently, then resistance emerges as an appropriate moral response.

Head over to Sojourner’s to read the whole thing.

Media Moments and Communication for Mission in the 21st Century

I’ve found myself thinking more than once of late what the founder of my religious community, Margaret Anna Cusack (known in religion as Mother Francis Clare) would have been able to do in the Internet age.

She was a prolific writer in her time and used the power of the written word astutely to spread the Gospel, challenge unjust structures, and advocate for people who were poor.  She wrote letters, letters to the editor, and many, many books. By 1870, more than 200,000 copies of her works (most published under the names M.F. Cusack or Mary Francis Cusack) had circulated throughout the world. Profits from the sale of her books were used for the Sisters’ work with the poor.

In one of her autobiographies, she tells the story of her audience with Pope Leo XIII, when she was seeking approval for our new congregation, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace.

“My audience was entirely private … Mgr. Macchi brought in the whole set of my books to his holiness, who looked at them, I think somewhat surprised at the number. Some of them were duplicated, having been translated into German, French, and Italian. …  His holiness specially commended the plan of my new order, and encouraged me in every way to continue writing. He gave his blessing to all the sisters present and to come, and to all those who would contribute to my work.”

Our original 1884 Constitutions, written by Mother Francis Clare, described our mission as being “to promote the peace of the Church both by word and work. The very name Sisters of Peace will, it is hoped, inspire the desire of peace and a love for it.” Word and work. I love that!

I can’t help but think that if she lived in today’s era of social networking, Mother Francis Clare would be tweeting for peace, spreading the good news of the Gospel and be on the forefront of the new evangelization. When our new community Twitter account (@SistersofPeace) went live earlier this year , I imagined her smiling in heaven at this new endeavor by her daughters in the 21st Century.

Because most of her books are in the public domain with the passage of time, she actually has quite an internet presence herself. You can read many of her works for free online, from histories of Ireland to lives of the saints to social reform. One of my personal favorite’s is her 1874 work, Women’s Work in Modern Society. Another one which is quite appropriate for this liturgical season is her 1866 book, Meditations for Advent and Easter. I use that one quite a bit for prayer this time of year!

As someone who has been growing into her own identity as both a Catholic Sister and a writer, I find great inspiration in Mother Francis Clare. This month marks ten years that I’ve been blogging my journey into religious life and experience as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, first at Musings of a Discerning Woman and now here.  It’s also why I jumped at the opportunity to be a regular columnist on the Global Sisters Report. I am very grateful for the gift of writing, and I feel called to share that gift in the hopes that my words can touch hearts and minds in service of the Gospel.

I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit can work through any medium, even the Internet! Actually, I first discovered my religious community online when I was discerning religious life. That’s also why I’ve decided to join a group of younger Catholic Sisters in live tweeting during episodes of Lifetime’s new “reality” show The Sisterhood: Becoming NunsIt’s actually been a fun experience, offering some of my own experience and “#realnun facts” as I watch the show. (You can join the conversation at #TheSisterhood.)

A younger Catholic Sister friend alerted me today that the folks over at the Huffington Post have noticed our live tweeting of the show.

“Social media savvy sisters have been doggedly following — and even live-tweeting — the show. They’ve been paying close attention to any potential misrepresentations, while remaining excited that the topic of religious vocation is getting national attention.”

I appreciated that description, because I think it aptly describes the spirit we’ve tried to embody as we’ve been live tweeting the show. Again, the Holy Spirit can work with anything! Even reality TV and Twitter!

It’s a far cry from Mother Francis Clare’s in person discussion of her writings with Pope Leo XIII, often considered the founder of Catholic Social Teaching. But nonetheless, I feel it is important to be part of the discussion where people are.

And, ok, I’ll admit it …. it’s kind of cool that the Huffington Post article includes a screen shot of one of my live tweets from last week’s show!

screenshot of my one of my live tweet's from last week's episode highlighted in HuffPo article
screenshot of my one of my live tweet’s from last week’s episode highlighted in HuffPo article

In the end, I have to think that Mother Francis Clare would use the media of the day to communicate for mission. Would she be on twitter, blogging, and on instagram? I have to think the answer would be yes!

By the way, be sure to check twitter when #callthemidwife returns to PBS …. a group of us have been live tweeting that as well!