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Taking Her Ministry on the Road

by Pattie Pace

 

To be a nun is to pursue a calling. But Sister Susan Rose Francois never imagined her calling would take her on a national tour aboard a full-size motor coach.

 

The 24-city bus tour was organized by a Catholic nonprofit called Network, which educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social transformation. Every year since 2012, Network has organized Nuns on the Bus around specific social justice themes. Last year’s theme was “Mend the Gaps.”

In July, Francois and her fellow nuns from various orders headed to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. On the streets outside Quicken Loans Arena, they stopped passersby and offered free cups of lemonade. “We thought it might help sweeten the sour political conversations swirling around our country,” says Francois.

Armed with clipboards, they asked people the same three questions: Who in your family is it difficult to discuss politics with and why? What worries you about this election? What gives you hope for our nation?

When told the nuns would ask the exact same questions at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, people began to soften.

“Listening to views completely different than mine—without judging—was one of the most transforming experiences I’ve ever had,” says Francois. “If we focus solely on what divides us, we’ll never move forward together as a nation.”

Francois is a Catholic nun with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, a New Jersey–based order that strives to promote peace and justice through prayer and action. At 44 years old, she’s the youngest member of her congregation’s leadership team, serves as vocation director, writes guest blog posts, and hosts her own personal blog (At the Corner of Susan and St. Joseph).

 

This article was published in the Winter 2017 issue of The Chronicle Magazine. To read the full article, click here.

Taking Her Ministry on the Road

"The Spirit sounds herself in so many voices: sometimes Her whisper is persuasive and easy to follow; sometimes Her cry is fiery and threatening. But She must be listened to."

Dorothy Vidulich, CSJP