By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
Another “Nuns on the Bus” campaign is ready to roll and three Sisters of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary will be on board. They’ll stop in Davenport Sept. 21, where Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a nonprofit Catholic social justice lobby, will receive the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award. Network organizes Nuns on the Bus tours to promote social justice issues.
The third Nuns on the Bus tour in three years focuses on getting out the vote and standing up against big money in the 2014 midterm elections. The nuns will start in Iowa where the U.S. Senate race is drawing national attention. Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat, and State Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican, are vying for the seat held by longtime Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, who is retiring.
“We’re trying to get out the vote and to involve people on the social issues of minimum wage, immigration reform, the rights of workers and the income gap in our country,” says Sister Jeanie Hagedorn. She and her sibling, Sister Elaine Hagedorn, and Sister Bea Snyder — all members of the Davenport-based Congregation of the Humility of Mary — will be among the Nuns on the Bus.
They plan to ride the five-day Iowa leg of the tour from Sept. 17-21. The bus then travels to Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia before concluding Oct. 20 in Denver, Colo., according to Network’s website.
“When ‘We the People’ vote, politicians will: mend the wealth gap, enact a living wage, craft a faithful budget that benefits the 100 percent, secure healthcare for all, protect immigration rights, promote nonviolent solutions to conflict,” Network states.
Sr. Snyder, a Pacem in Terris Committee member who nominated Sr. Campbell for the award, is a newbie to Nuns on the Bus, but has been advocating for social justice throughout 50 years with the Sisters of Humility. “I’ll be traveling light and will take the necessities as well as a notebook and camera and my sense of humor,” she jokes. While Sr. Campbell isn’t expected to be on the tour’s first leg, “I just feel very blessed to have the opportunity to be on the bus,” Sr. Snyder says. “We’ll be meeting people who can help make a difference and we’ll be meeting people who are in need of having a difference made in their lives.”
The Hagedorns consider Sr. Campbell a friend since welcoming her to Iowa for the first Nuns on the Bus tour in 2012. That tour advocated for social and economic justice and against the proposed federal budget that called for cutting programs that help people in need. Last year’s Nuns on the Bus tour promoted immigration reform, but did not go through Iowa. Sr. Campbell has been an overnight guest at the Hagedorns’ home in Des Moines, staying there in 2013 when she was a keynote speaker for the annual Maurice J. Dingman Peace Award Dinner.
“She’s been in Des Moines a couple of times and we hosted a rally and prayer service for her when she started her first bus trip,” Sr. Jeanie said. “We’ve been blessed to get to know her personally as well as admiring the public stance she has taken on all of these issues.… She is so down to earth and has such a good sense of humor … yet she has such depth of person and you can tell she has such a deep prayer life. It energizes her and all that she does.”
The campaign-style bus the Sisters will ride in has a section for media, a kitchen in the middle and a back section for about 10 nuns. The Sisters look forward to getting out and meeting people to learn about their issues and concerns and to get people registered to vote, Sr. Elaine said. They’ll take note of some of the stories they hear from people and share them. In an interview with The Catholic Messenger earlier this summer, Sr. Campbell observed that “A lot of (our) work is about storytelling, telling the story of real people.”
“It should be a grace-filled week for us,” Sr. Jeanie says. “A real privilege,” Sr. Elaine adds.