Emmaus Participates in Virtual Nuns on the Bus Tour
Nuns on the Bus 2020

With so many events—large and small—adjusted, postponed, or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nuns on the Bus, an annual social justice bus tour sponsored by the Catholic advocacy group NETWORK, had to adapt as well.

So prior to the national presidential election in 2020, NETWORK has organized a virtual bus tour to address issues that are part of the Catholic social justice agenda. “Since Nuns on the Bus could not go on the road as planned, they asked organizations like Emmaus to share how federal policies can affect the people it serves both for better and for the worse,” said Breanna Mekuly, Emmaus staff member. To that end, Emmaus submitted a video for the tour explaining policies important to its ministry in the city of Erie: support for food assistance programs like SNAP, the FEED Act which helps farmers get their food to the hungry without wasting food, expansion of the Affordable Care Act, and a call for a “housing first” approach to ending homelessness. “Each person and each family we meet at Emmaus is unique, but they all are harmed by policies that punish the poor. We call on the federal government to prioritize bills and laws that will allow for all, especially those most marginalized and forgotten in our society, to obtain their basic needs,” Sister Valerie Luckey, Emmaus staff member, shared in the submission. You can view the video on the Nuns on the Bus website, or by clicking here.

On the Nuns on the Bus website an interactive map shows a schedule of live events for the tour, videos introducing “Nuns on the Bus,” other videos submitted by sisters talking about policies that would support the people they serve, as well as submissions from ministries and organizations that do social justice work. There is also state voter information, and bus stops from previous tours available on the map.

In addition, there will be a live event hosted for Pittsburgh and Erie on Monday, September 21 at 7:00PM. This event is a “Town Hall for Spirit-Filled Voters” and will focus on voter issues important to Northwestern Pennsylvania. Sister Simone Campbell and other Nuns on the Bus will be part of the conversation. The virtual event, hosted by the Erie NETWORK Advocates team, for which Emmaus staff Rita Scrimenti is a chapter member, requires registration. The link to register and more information can be found here.

On Monday, September 28, there will be a “Pennsylvania Dialogue Across Geographic Divides” virtual event at 3:00PM. This is an event in which grassroots leaders share experiences from rural communities, suburbs, and cities and talk about policy solutions that benefit all communities. This also requires a registration, which can be completed by clicking here. Be sure to choose the September 28 event in the drop-down list.

“We are honored to be a part of Nuns on the Bus, even if we cannot be physically present with the group this year,” said Sister Mary Miller, Director of Emmaus Ministries. “The organization bases its work in politics on a theology rooted in Catholic Social Teaching, which stresses the importance of the value and beauty of each and every human life. That message is also at the heart of Emmaus.”

Going on national tours to raise awareness for justice issues such as immigration reform, income inequality, and access to affordable health care, as well as other issues like encouraging people to vote, calling for a transformation of bi-partisan politics, and protesting cuts in programs that help the poor, Nuns on the Bus has been traveling across the country numerous times since 2012. A group of nuns rides on a tour bus, stopping at meaningful locations, such as the sites of Republican and Democratic conventions during presidential election years, or Washington D.C. when the Pope visited the United States in 2015. They most recently stopped in Erie during their 2018 tour.