“Sister, you and your fellow nuns have clearly gone rogue!"
-- Stephen Colbert
Sister Simone Campbell was 18 years old when she joined the convent and 21 when she took her nun vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Her younger sister and best friend was dying of Hodgkin’s disease. It was the 1960’s and kids were fighting off police dogs and fire hoses while marching in the streets for their civil rights. Simone wanted to join the battle for social justice with a community inspired by the gospel. So she became a nun.
Fast forward 48 years. It's 2012. The Vatican publicly reprimands American nuns for being "radical feminists" by focusing too much on the needs of the vulnerable and not speaking out enough against abortion and same-sex marriage.
Sister Simone responds with joyful defiance. Now a lawyer and a lobbyist in Washington DC, she is determined to raise the volume of the Sisters’ voices and mission even louder. So she and her organization, NETWORK, launch the first of many "Nuns on the Bus" tours, stirring people up over Paul Ryan’s budget, raising the minimum wage, immigration reform and healthcare.
Their goal is simple: protect the vulnerable and restore fairness to our system. They draw on their faith to fuel that political mission.
I read about the “Nuns on the Bus” tour a few days before it started. They tickled and inspired me, nudged at my nagging angst about our nation’s widening equality gap, and turbo-boosted my sense of personal power. I needed more. So I dropped everything, flew to Iowa, and jumped on the bus with my camera rolling.
Melissa: Why did you become a nun?
Sister Simone: Because my parents wouldn’t let me go to Woodstock.
I have been filming these feisty Sisters for the past two years. Their work has moved me profoundly and goes to the core of what matters most for moms, women, families and communities.
Sister Simone and the Nuns on the Bus continue to advocate tirelessly—listening deeply to the stories of the people they meet on the road whose lives are torn apart by bad policies, and bringing those stories back to the powers that be in DC and state capitals across the country.
Just last week, Sister Simone's organization NETWORK participated with MomsRising and many other advocates in the White House’s Summit on Working Families, discussing policies for more workplace flexibility, equal pay for women, reducing workplace discrimination, and ensuring families are equipped with elder care, child care, and early childhood education.
I hope the courage, tenacity and joyfulness of the Nuns on the Bus will inspire people of any religion—or no religion at all—to find their own voice and stand up to make a difference.
“The Holy Spirit is alive and well and making mischief!”
-- Sister Simone Campbell