The Journal Gazette
Saturday, July 16, 2016 10:12 pm

Nuns' bus tour arrives in city to press cause of social justice

Jeff Wiehe | The Journal Gazette

A dotted red line juts its way across the yellow painted landscape along the side of the bus, going from Janesville, Wisconsin, into Illinois and Missouri before sweeping over to Terre Haute, Fort Wayne, Toledo and into Pennsylvania, New York, and parts of the Eastern Seaboard. 

The red dotted line ends in Philadelphia, which is no accident since that’s where the Democratic National Convention will be.

That’s where a slew of Catholic nuns will end up after a jaunt through 23 cities in 13 states, a total of 2,400 miles, all so they can get a feel of the chal­lenges faced by Americans who are struggling. It’s dubbed Nuns on the Bus, put together by the social justice lobby named NETWORK, and it’s no accident the route boldly painted on that bus resembles a quilt.

"What we’re realizing is this election season the anger and the name calling and the judgment has really torn a hole in our fabric," said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK during a stop in Fort Wayne on Friday.

The nuns made a visit to Vincent Village on the south side of town during the afternoon, where they spoke with people from that neighborhood as well as those who are finding housing or have found housing through the organization. In the evening the nuns were fielding questions at St. Mary’s Parish on Lafayette Street.

About two dozen or so people showed up on the front lawn of Vincent Village to speak with the nuns, who embraced the idea of working together to overcome hardships and obstacles. They touted organizations like Vincent Village, which provides shelter and advocacy as well as affordable housing for homeless families, as being at the forefront of making it easier for people to come together. 

Homelessness could happen to nearly anyone, Campbell said, citing many families are a job loss or illness away from needing organizations like Vincent Village. 

"The only thing to see us through those hard steps coming back is communities," she said. "We want to love our communities into being." 

At the gathering outside Vincent Village, pamphlets supporting Hillary Clinton for president and Evan Bayh for senator were passed around by the nuns, whose motto during the trip through the states is "Mending the Gaps." The emphasis is on bringing a "politics of inclusion" to divided places while also addressing gaps in economic and social divides. 

During the course of the day, news broke of presidential candidate Donald Trump selecting Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate on the Republican ticket.

The night before, Campbell prepared a statement among rumors of the selection and sent it out to various media.

"While Governor Pence has said he is a Christian above all, his voting record in Congress and many of his actions as Governor belie this identity," Campbell said in her statement. "In Congress, Governor Pence voted consistently to leave the needs of low-income families out of his concern, which is not a Christian response to the huge income and wealth gaps in our nation. We at NETWORK urge Governor Pence to get to know the struggles of our people and to recognize that Pope Francis is correct when he says that politicians need to build bridges, not walls."

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