Our Dominican Volunteers USA Mission Statement calls us to “respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters especially those who are poor and marginalized.” In our most recent blog post, Dominican Sister Bernadine Karge OP shares that one of the ways she responds to this call through her ministry with Nuns on the Bus. Sister Bernadine is an immigration lawyer, longtime member of the House of Connections community in Chicago, and the Dominican Volunteers USA’s 2016 Sister Marcela Conley Award recipient. Thank you for your Dominican witness Sister Bernadine!
1. Give us some background. What is Nuns on the Bus? How did it come to be?
NETWORK, the Catholic Social Justice Lobby, founded by congregations of Catholic Sisters in the early 1970’s in Washington, D.C. had their first Nuns on the Bus (NOTB) in 2012 in response to Paul Ryan’s budget. The Network staff came up with the idea of the bus tour to lift up the work of Catholic Sisters and other partners who are serving the needs of those on the margins of society. It is through community that we see and become aware of the gifts and needs of our sisters and brothers. Together we the people can decide how we want to be together. We can create the structures that will support the common good.
2. How and why did you get involved with Nuns on the Bus? What inspires, challenges and invigorates you about their mission and work for justice?
My first NOTB was the 2013 Immigration Reform bus tour. I have known S. Simone Campbell for many decades. As a woman of hope and action, I made it my business to get on the bus for immigration reform. It is amazing how hope is generated by those who welcome the sisters, mostly total strangers, but there are always connections to be found. This year Shannon Green, a DV-USA honoree greeted us in Santa Monica. Zach Moeller DV-USA 2017-2018 showed up in Irvine, CA, the next day.
|Culinary Union Group|
3. Please tell us about your current Nuns on the Bus Tour and its goals and mission.
TAX JUSTICE TRUTH TOUR on the Road to Mar-a-Lago, is the 6th tour of Nuns on the Bus. It began in Santa Monica, California, October 8 and will end on the east coast on November 2 at Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida. From sea to shining sea, Catholic Sisters will be making site visits, congressional visits and conducting town hall meetings in 20 states and the District of Columbia
Las Vegas, Nevada was our first stop after our California beginning. The Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 was the site we visited to listen to the bartenders, kitchen staff, and housekeepers as they shared their struggles to get the owners of one chain of casinos to sit down with them to negotiate a contract for just wages, consistent schedules, health care and paid time off. 173 countries and 40 languages are represented in the 60,000 workers in the hospitality industry in Las Vegas.
Those in the hospitality industry are not treated hospitably. Their bosses recently spent $4.5 million dollars on a family wedding. The cost of the healthcare these workers are seeking would cost $4 million! Why can’t those whose work enables the owner to gain wealth, not get their share and financial security? The next morning after a rally on the parking lot, 2 members of Local 226, paired up with 2 sisters, like Jesus and Dominic, right? Sister Dusty Farnan, OP and I were accompanied by Ash and Veronica. We went to knock on doors and canvass the neighborhoods with information on voter registration, early voting and on candidates in the Nevada race. Our shirts and our hearts said, WE VOTE. WE WIN.
4. What has stood out to you to from your work with Nuns on the Bus?
What struck me was the fact that the fellow on our team who was 26 years old, had never voted. The woman on our team who was in her 30’s was only voting for the 2nd time in her life. As citizens they have the right to vote. Ash and Veronica are now committed to take responsibility to vote. They took leave of their jobs to do the canvassing for weeks, 10 hours a day at a rate of $12 an hour, instead of their usual pay.
I have a question for DV’S and other readers of this site. Why do young persons not vote? I have conversations each year with DV’s about voting. Some care and vote. Others not. Is voting not electronic enough? Is it too much of a bother to change one’s address, register to vote or request an absentee ballot? The power of the ballot box is there. It is one way to speak your truth and make your choice for candidates willing to mend the inequalities in our society. Reasonable revenue for responsible programs is what NOTB 2018 is seeking. Get to know the candidates and vote.
5. How do you view the ministry of Nuns on the Bus in relation to our Dominican mission and the ministries of St. Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena?
The voting for tax justice, is a call to accountability for those charged with serving the common good. As Catherine spoke to religious authorities to do the right thing ,we hold our leaders accountable. Like Dominic, we try to engage in dialogue to help folks see the truth of the impact of their actions on those who they many not have in their sights. Out of sight, out of mind.
|Sister Bernadine (with microphone) with Sisters at St. Sabina||Church in Chicago|
6. Any final thoughts you wish to share?
The 2017 Tax bill will create a deficit of $1.7 trillion in our budget. Cuts to social services, education, healthcare, housing and nutrition programs will be made to offset the giveaway in tax cuts to the 1% and to corporations. Visit to follow the issues and ride along.
Welcome! DON’T FORGET TO VOTE November 6th. Thanks.