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‘Nuns on the Bus’ road trip makes Boston stop

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Sister Rita Heywood, of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, signed her name on the bus during a Nuns on the Bus stop at Boston College High School.The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

The latest campaign bus to roll through Boston wasn't adorned with partisan slogans or accompanied by a security detail.

The Nuns on the Bus vehicle, which promised to "mend the gaps," pulled into Boston College High School Saturday to proffer love and community — qualities they say this election cycle sorely lacks.

Boston was the latest stop on a 23-city, 13-state tour led by about 20 Catholic nuns from various orders. They began their journey in Janesville, Wis., on July 11 and will end their trip Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Their goal, they say, is to interact with community members along the way, promoting healthy conversation and debate, and encouraging voter turnout.


"I believe one of the biggest problems of our time is we
haven't talked to each other," said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, the social justice organization that runs the bus tour. "We haven't heard the anguish of our people."

The initiative is nonpartisan, but, Campbell said, she and others on the bus would stand up to hate in the presidential campaign, referring obliquely to Republican Party nominee Donald Trump.

"Anger has taken over," she said, adding that a certain candidate was "trying to divide us instead of bring us together."

Campbell spoke from a podium on BC High School's front lawn, across the street from The Boston Globe. She said she chose the location as a good place to confront the sex abuse by Catholic priests dramatized in the movie "Spotlight." The school featured prominently in the Oscar-winning film that documented a Globe investigation.

"We as a community won't hide from sins of racism and sexual abuse," she said. "We know the way forward is to face the problems."

Several local advocates joined Campbell, identifying some of the struggles Bostonians face.


Sister Simone Campbell, leader of the Nuns on the Bus, spoke during a stop at Boston College High School.Timothy Tai for The Boston Globe

Darius Cephus, a regional representative of Fight for $15, said he was working at a McDonald's when his hours were cut so much he had to give up his apartment. Pushing for living wages is one sure way to mend Boston's gaps, he said.

"We deserve more; we're worth more," he said. "It's not like we choose to work in fast food. We have to work every day."

In every city the nuns visit, they ask those they meet and talk with to sign their bus — "so, by the end, we're no longer nuns on the bus, we're the 100 percent, we're all on the bus," Campbell said.

Almost two weeks into their trip, the bus's panels are nearly full of signatures and messages of encouragement.

Sister Rita Heywood, of Wellesley, echoed Campbell's call for inclusion. "Let's mend the gap together — not just nuns, all of us," she said.

At the podium, local disability services advocate Ellen Frith praised the Nuns on the Bus for their community outreach.

"We need too be out of the box and with people where they are," she said. "Silence no more. So I love Nuns on the Bus. I think this is what true sisters are — out of the box and onto the bus."

Reis Thebault can be reached at reis.thebault@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @reisthebault.