October 18, 2012
By Sister Jean M.
“Nuns drive for Faith, Family and Fairness” – This phrase was displayed on the stickers that more than 120 nuns and friends attached to their vehicles as they prayed, drove, listened and supported those who work so hard to provide for those most vulnerable. This bus trip, actually two shuttles and many cars, was truly a holy pilgrimage of love and concern.
The day began at Mercy Center with breakfast, logistical instructions and prayer. The reading from Luke’s gospel (4:16-21) challenged the pilgrims: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” A loaf of bread made at St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality bakery was blessed and left at each site as a symbol of solidarity or our “communion” with one another.
At St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality we heard the stories of those who are under-insured or uninsured and how care was given to them despite great obstacles. The increasing numbers of those who are homeless and hungry is almost overwhelming. Some who were once donors are now receivers.
At the parish of San Miguel, we enjoyed a Mexican meal of refried beans, rice, chicken, pork and pastry prepared by parish members. Fathers Jesus and Tracy told of the plight of the migrants and the immigrants and the need for immigration reform. Father Jesus brought red apples picked by the migrants for us to eat, another sign of our solidarity.
We journeyed to Bethany House and learned how the needs of teenage moms, abused women and single mothers were being met and the importance of programs that teach these women how to care for their children.
At the Charles Street Settlement House, the issues of youth at risk – youth suffering from addiction, alienation, joblessness, hunger and homelessness – brought tears to many eyes. A new term “unclaimed youth” is now being described for these young people who our society has left behind. A local council woman asked for a “I stand with the Nuns” button to wear at the council meeting that night. Present throughout the day were members of the staff of local and federal officials’ offices.
The trip ended with dinner at the Sisters of St. Joseph’s Motherhouse. A sharing of reactions and prayers concluded the day. The pilgrims left with the concluding song on their minds: “We are called to act with justice. We are called to love tenderly. We are called to serve one another and walk humbly with God.”
Having experienced the original Nuns on the Bus in Pittsburgh, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of this experience in Rochester, where we were able to spend the entire day being present with those in need and supportive of those who work daily to meet those needs. One cannot have such a profound experience and not become more resolved to do what is necessary to bring about change in our society, to deal with the systemic cause of so much suffering and pain. God Bless the committee who planned the day, especially Sister Gratia L’Esperance and Associate Ginny Fifield. A job well-done!