News from the Road

Stay up to date on our road trip!

By Sister Barbara Pfarr, SSND

November 4, 2014

As we wait for election returns, the wrapper on the Nun Bus is being removed. We left the extra food and office supplies with Sister Pat Rogers at the St. Ann Center for Women, which was our last stop, where they were encouraging voters and canvassers with a party. Materials are being sent back to the NETWORK office in Washington, DC. It seems that Melissa Etheridge has rented the bus for next week.

Eleven states, 58 nuns, over 5,000 media hits (including an interview of me on WTMJ at the end of this post). I was only on the Bus since Wisconsin but the tour started in September. At every stop we were met by cheering crowds of faithful folks who have been doing the hard work of political engagement. We would speak a bit to encourage and thank them....

By Sister Richelle Friedman, PBVM

November 3, 2014

An enthusiastic crowd awaited us in a parking lot in Madison. The usual cheers greeted us as we exited the bus. Our presence always seems to energize the volunteers. Friar Phil and Sister Simone’s inspiring words brought applause of affirmation. Julie, a campus minister in a Catholic high school, declared, “I’ve been waiting for a long time to be in the same city with Nuns on the Bus.”

The stop lasted all of 30 minutes. The volunteers dispersed to do phone banking and canvassing. We hit the road—heading to Milwaukee!

By Sister Mary McCauley, BVM

November 1, 2014

Halloween brought a special treat to Dubuque and in particular to Mt Carmel, the Motherhouse for the Sisters of Charity, BVM, as the infamous Nuns on the Bus “BUS” drove into the Mt. Carmel property around 6 p.m. Mary Martens, BVM, and Mary McCauley, BVM, welcomed them. It was a special joy for Mary McCauley, who had experienced the first Iowa trip, to not only greet the five “Nuns on the Bus”: Marti McCarthy, SSS; Bernardine Karge, OP; Richelle Friedman, PBVM; Jeanie Hagedorn, CHM; and Elaine Hagedorn, CHM – but also to reconnect with members of the staff….Ashley Wilson, Abbey Watson, Melissa Regan, the documentary filmmaker, and of course Bill, the affable and competent driver! After a simple supper, wonderful sharing and reliving of the past few days, all were pleased to rest and prepare for...

By Sister Richelle Friedman, PBVM

November 1, 2014

It was a beautiful crisp day in Dubuque, perfect for going to the polls at the annex to the courthouse for early voting. Five weeks earlier, a number of the Iowa Nuns on the Bus had committed their religious communities to the goal of getting 100% of both the sisters and lay staff at their motherhouses to vote – Presentations, BVMs and Humilities. So the bus was filled with sisters and off to the courthouse. There was a sense of pride and enthusiasm as the sisters went to cast their ballots. After returning the sisters to their home, we said ‘goodbye’ to the BVMs who’d been so hospitable, providing us with wonderful food and lodging.

We’d just spent four days and traveled over 800 miles traversing Iowa where we met so many dedicated volunteers working to make our democracy stronger by...

By Sister Bernadine Karge, OP

November 2, 2014

Sunday, November 2, dawned a brisk 31-degree day in Green Bay, Wisconsin. At St. Matthew Church, there was a Get Out the Vote table in the parish center lobby. The pastor reminded the congregation that since there was no Packers game, folks didn’t have to say “Go Packers” and instead they could say, “Go vote!”

At the WEAC Region 3 headquarters, not only were the grills fired up for Wisconsin hot dogs and brats for the 10:30 am cookout and rally, but more than 100 folks were fired up for canvassing and calling voters to get out the vote this football-free Sunday.Speakers including Sister Simone and John Stokes, the director of the NEA, urged us to vote our family values on Tuesday.

What does democracy look like? “This is what...

By Sister Barbara Pfarr, SSND

November 2, 2014

Sunday afternoon we pulled up to an energized, faithful community of activists waiting for us on a frosty Houdini Plaza in Appleton, Wisconsin. Who are these people who would bundle up to welcome a group of strangers with such warmth and enthusiasm and then go off on a Sunday afternoon to knock on doors and make phone calls to mobilize voters? There's something of Houdini's magic that can make such a sense of shared community, solidarity, faith, urgency, cooperation, hope, inspiration happen so quickly.

The magic happened again that night in Madison at our Town Hall for the 100% at the Unitarian Church. We ask the participants to "Buzz for a minute with your neighbors...when was your first time to vote? ... Where do you find hope?......

By Sister Marti McCarthy, SSS

October 30, 2014

With cell phones in hand, sisters began the morning calling Mason City registered voters with absentee ballots to ensure that their ballots would be in. Encouragement went to those who had not sent them in and thanks went to those who had just mailed them in. For both there was a reminder of the importance that all our voices be heard in order to keep our precious democracy strong.

Later in Cedar Rapids, sisters partnered with local volunteers with the same message. Since voter turn-out at midterm elections is generally lower than for presidential elections, our effort has been to raise the importance that choices made in these elections have on future key issues that people care about. Autumn was still in the air and visible in fall colors as we went from house to house reminding people...

Red Oak, Iowa

By Sister Bernadine Karge, OP

October 29, 2014

The Nuns on the Bus rolled into Council Bluffs, Iowa, on this sunny cool day to energize and be energized by dozens of folks gathered at the Madison Avenue Shoppes Mall. After an introductory session Iowa canvassers paired up with a Nun on the Bus to visit different neighborhoods to collect early voting ballots. We knocked on doors and were warmly greeted by voters who had already returned their ballots by mail. A mom with a 10-month-old babe-in-arms reported that she and her husband received their ballots yesterday and would complete them tonight to be collected by the canvasser. The commitment of the canvassers was inspirational to us. They, in turn, were delighted and grateful that NOTB visited their town a second time and support their efforts this week before the midterm elections.

...

By Sister Benita Coffey, OSB 

October 29, 2014

I've voted early before, but this mid-term experience will go down in my "book" as pretty memorable.

After being part of the blue-shirted background for Sister Simone's press conference, it was fun watch the WGN TV cameraman walk backwards trying to get our expressions, as we moved quickly across the street into the Public Library...to vote early! I wasn't sure whether to look serious for his camera (doing my duty as a good citizen), to look giddy (about all the attention), to look proud (that to be part of another NOTB event), or simply to look happy (because I was).

I was doing what I like to do – enjoying the feeling of knowing we're all in it together and that my little bit counts. Now when our 49th Ward here in Chicago,...

By Sister Jan Cebula, OSF

October 28, 2014

As the “We the People, We the Voters” tour of Nuns on the Bus wraps up, one aspect of my experience riding on the bus still intrigues me. From the very first day, what mystified me was the amount of energy we were feeling. “One huge swoosh of energy” was what I wrote at the end of that first day. One time, one day, I could understand. But every day and at every stop? I just kept wondering about it: Why was it happening; what was generating it? What was the meaning of it?

The energy was palpable. I know the other Iowa sisters felt it. Our schedule was intense, and one sister commented that she was so exhausted she didn’t know if she could keep it up. That is, until she stepped off the bus and among the people. That’s how exhilarating it was...