Why I Am a Nun on the Bus in Ohio
December 19, 2013
By Sister Carren H.
Why? In October 2012 the bus tour departed from Cincinnati to promote The Faithful Budget as an alternative to the Ryan Budget that Sister Simone Campbell of NETWORK had so eloquently introduced when the national Nuns on the Bus (NOTB) tour stopped in Cincinnati in June. My work commitments prevented me from jumping on the Ohio NOTB tour, but I went to the send-off and promised to meet the bus in Dayton the next day and ride for 24 hours.
The stories I heard in those 24 hours were gripping: in Dayton a woman could now read her mail because she learned to read at a literacy center; seniors had safe, affordable housing because of the work of Catholic sisters; the newspaper editorial board was eager to hear our perspective on the national budget. In Lima, OH, the clinic supported by the Mercy hospital, St. Rita, gave access to medical care to hundreds of uninsured people; in Columbus the Dominican sisters are working for justice through their university and motherhouse. How could I get off the bus now?
A few quick phone calls found others at home willing to cover my responsibilities and I committed to the entire trip even though I only had one change of clothing. From Toledo, across northern Ohio and down the eastern side of the state we heard story after story from people whose lives were improved through the work of sisters. Everywhere people were grateful for the work sisters are doing.
Of course, one bus ride didn’t bring lasting justice for all. We – sisters from various religious communities in Cincinnati and others who want to work with us – have continued meeting to address other important issues such as affordable housing for women, immigration reform, mass incarceration and environmental degradation. We are benefitting from each other’s expertise and contacts throughout the state. Our voice has been greatly amplified through support from NETWORK and collaboration with Faith in Public Life who has placed an organizer in Ohio. We hold monthly conference calls across the state to establish a statewide coalition. We are building our communication network, setting our priorities and collecting followers on our Nuns on the Bus Ohio Facebook Page and our website. We are lifting up our values of faith, family and fairness and using our moral voice so that we the people influence public debate. The journey is long but we are in it together. We know that Ohio, and in particular Hamilton County, was pivotal in the presidential election so we knew we have power to influence policy for justice.
We used our power to influence our governor to expand Medicaid in Ohio because we believe access to health care is a right, not a privilege for those who can afford it. Our efforts are now focused on immigration reform, urging Speaker Boehner who lives nearby to bring legislation to the House floor for a vote. The journey is long, but we are traveling together.
Photo: HowardLake on Flickr.