School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) will be traveling with NETWORK’s “Nuns on the Bus” when it hits the road at the end of this month to raise awareness for bipartisan, commonsense immigration reform. The trip kicks off with a pre-event prayer service on May 28 at St. Rose’s Church in New Haven, Conn. Sister Peg Regan, SSND, will give the blessing during the service. Sister Arlene Flahery, OP, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation director for the SSND Atlantic-Midwest Province, will introduce Sister Simone Campbell, organizer of the original Nuns on the Bus in 2012 and executive director of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby.
Sister Arlene, along with Sisters Eileen Reilly, SSND, and Judith Best, SSND, will be riding the bus on different parts of the first leg of the tour, which is scheduled to begin across from Ellis Island at Liberty State Park in New Jersey on May 29. Sister Arlene and Judith will participate in events in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Sister Judith also will travel to Virginia and North Carolina. Sister Eileen, director of the SSND UN-NGO office, will join the tour on May 31 in Charlotte, N.C., and participate in events in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama.
“Every nation of our world today faces the challenges and the opportunities involved when people migrate from one country to another,” Sister Eileen said. “This tour will provide a wonderful opportunity to highlight the diverse gifts and talents that immigrants have brought to our country.”
The 6,500-mile, 15-state tour, called “NETWORK Nuns on the Bus: A Drive for Faith, Family, and Citizenship,” will conclude with a rally in the shadow of San Francisco’s Angel Island on June 18. Catholic sisters on the tour, along with labor, civic and fellow faith leaders are urging lawmakers to support legislation that provides a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans, promotes family unity, and protects the rights of all immigrant workers.
For the School Sisters of Notre Dame, it is particularly relevant that the tour will begin at Liberty State Park in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, said Sister Arlene. Mother Caroline Friess, who came to the United States in 1847 with SSND Foundress Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger to establish schools for German immigrants, entered the country through the same harbor as an immigrant.
“This time in our history of the United States, with more than 11 million people living in the shadows because they don’t have the necessary documents, calls to our sisters who have historically upheld the dignity of the human person and reached out to the marginalized with compassion,” Sister Arlene said. “It draws upon the roots of the SSND congregation to minister to immigrants’ needs.
“One of the things we want to highlight on Nuns on the Bus is that our foundresses were immigrants, and they set up one of the largest social service systems in the United Sates. The Catholic school system, child welfare agencies, and Catholic health care system are integral to the government’s capacity to provide social services in this country. The women who helped establish these were immigrants.”
Featuring Catholic sisters from around the country, and sponsored by NETWORK, the bus will stop at historical landmarks, drive through the Southern states, plains of Texas and border towns throughout the Southwest. Sisters will rally with community members at more than 50 faith-based agencies and local congressional offices to lift up the voices of both aspiring Americans and citizens who have been impacted by America’s broken immigration system.
Sister Judith said that her participation in the tour stems from her experiences 40 years ago with the United Farm Workers, when she learned how immigrants can change unjust structures through non-violence.
“Their struggle continues, and I want to support them,” Sister Judith said. “They will always be in my heart.”
Catholic Sisters stand with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in calling for immigration reform that addresses the root causes of migration and provides a roadmap to citizenship for fellow neighbors, colleagues, and friends seeking protection from further senseless exploitation.
“Catholic Sisters and people of faith know that when America celebrates and promotes our history as a nation of immigrants, we are better prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st Century,” said Sister Simone.
For more information about the School Sisters of Notre Dame: http://www.ssnd.org/
For more information about the School Sisters of Notre Dame: http://www.networklobby.org/bus
Contact: Julie Gilberto-Brady, SSND Communications Coordinator