Imagine a bus full of nuns driving across the country to talk about tax justice. Sounds like the perfect cure for insomnia, right? On the contrary….
After speaking with Sister Mary Ellen of Nuns on the Bus, I realized these nuns know how to have fun.
Did you volunteer to go on the bus tour?
No. I am being held against my will. SEND HELP!! Actually, I work at NETWORK [Lobby for Catholic Social Justice], so I am privileged to be on the whole trip. Other Sisters take time off to experience and advance this mission.
How many nuns are on the bus?
Ten on the bus right now, but we will have about 35 Sisters total that circulate throughout the trip.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Chicago, practiced immigration and public benefits and housing law in Bayou La Batre, Ala.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; and East St. Louis, Ill.. I now reside in D.C., and I work with Network Lobby as a grassroots mobilizer. All of the Sisters work with people who live at the margins, and we hail from various states.
What’s your favorite part about being a nun?
Living in community with like-minded Sisters who witness, live and love the gospel values. It also creates opportunities to meet Sisters in other orders and other people who want to create a world that respects and cares for all our sisters and brothers. We are our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers. Being a religious Sister enables me to fulfill that call.
Do you play games or sing songs on the bus? If so, what are your favorites?
We have bus playlists that we play as the miles go by. Country Roads seems to be a fan favorite. When we do not recall the words, we simply sing lalalalalala until the words come. Occasionally, we risk the bang to our head and dance in the aisle.
Where do you sleep?
We are taken in by Sisters at various motherhouses on our route. Everyone, everywhere, has been overly generous and wishes to be a part of this mission. We take them with us.
Where do you stop to eat?
Lately, we have thought about stopping in the cornfields of Iowa and picking stalks of corn. Abbey, our trip director, has preferred to stop at Panera Bread, where the food is less labor intensive.
What was your favorite stop so far?
Human Services Campus in Phoenix, Ariz. It is a campus of concern for homeless people. There is an emergency shelter, food service, an ID program, a post office, vocational rehab, a Dress for Success program as well as dental and healthcare. As a Daughters of Charity, we see Jesus in the poor, and I was moved to see that He was being treated right. It is a model for collaboration, compassion and community.
Do you have any humorous moments you would like to share?
When we arrived at the motherhouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, we passed through a door with a number pad. We opened it and the alarm was deafening. As 18 people passed through with all their luggage, the alarm continued to sound. No one knew where to go or how to stop that madness. It was an alarming way to end our day.
Have you seen the new movie “The Nun”? Asking for a friend. Totally kidding.
Loved it – totally kidding back.
Last but not least, what’s your favorite color?
Blessed Mother Blue
It’s not all fun and games for the NETWORK Lobby’s Nuns on the Bus. They are on a mission to “change structures that cause poverty and inequality, placing the needs of people at the economic margins and excluded at the center of our advocacy.” The bus started in Los Angeles and will end with a Fiesta for the Common Good on Nov. 2 in West Palm Beach, Fla., followed by a final journey to Mar-a-Lago.
NETWORK was founded by Catholic Sisters to promote justice and dignity. The purpose of their “Tax Justice Truth Tour” is to hold elected officials accountable for their votes on the 2017 tax law and attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Although President Trump and Republican Congressional leaders promised the tax cuts would help workers and families, in truth, the cuts went directly to the wealthiest people and corporations.