Nuns on the Bus: My vocation is reaffirmed

Sr. Larretta Rivera-Williams, right, talks to a community member July 15 in Indiana. (Jennifer Wong / Courtesy of NETWORK)

Global Sisters Report brings you special coverage during NETWORK's 2016 Nuns on the Bus tour, which started July 11 in Wisconsin, runs through the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, and concludes July 29 at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. See more photos day by dayNews from the Road blogs and videos from NETWORK Lobby, the sponsor of Nuns on the Bus.

"Excuse me, do the sisters take turns driving the bus?" Sarah Spengeman, our Grassroots Mobilization Manager, laughs and then responds, "No, we have a professional driver, Bill."

Years ago Bill was on tour with Elvis Presley. When Bill is not driving the bus for Anthony Williams, Mary J. Blidge, Fantasia, Maxwell, or Justin Bieber he is driving Nuns on the Bus. Conversations with Bill are enjoyable and interesting!

Today, Bill is driving us from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Toledo, Ohio. Thus far, we have travelled more than a thousand miles, visited seven different ministries, have now crossed into our fifth state, and met several hundred people.

My vocation as a Religious Sister of Mercy has been reaffirmed. This call and commitment to serve God's people, to seek justice for God's people, has been echoed by those I am traveling with. We all agree that witnessing to Gospel values and staying strong to Pope Francis' call of love and service, continues to be the role of Religious Woman in the 21st century.

Our morning prayer, the impromptu bus discussions, and our evening transition conversations are rich! We have all been touched spiritually and emotionally by the passionate stories we have heard.

Presently, I am the only Mercy Sister on the bus. The nine of us, from different religious communities, have formed a single community of sisters with ease; already knowing we will miss each other after next week. We represent the Sisters of St. Agnes, the Comboni Missionary Sisters, the Dominicans, the Religious Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, Sisters of Social Services, and the Ursuline Sisters.  We are modeling that we can pull together to achieve the possible; charism, age, and culture should not alter God's plan for peace and love.

A girl is held up to sign the 2016 Nuns on the Bus bus in Terre Haute, Indiana, July 15. (Jennifer Wong / Courtesy of NETWORK)
Nuns on the Bus stopped at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Terre Haute, Indiana, the morning of July 15 for a caucus discussion with residents, before visiting Vincent Village and conducting another caucus that evening at St. Mary's Parish in Fr. Wayne. (Jennifer Wong / Courtesy of NETWORK)

Perhaps, our different ministries are not in the trenches of despair with the people we have met. I am sure, however, that their faces and stories are forever carved in our minds.

After Toledo our journey continues to Cleveland, Ohio, for the Republican National Convention. Please pray for everyone headed to Cleveland; a special prayer for Nuns on the Bus and our professional driver, Bill!

[Larretta Rivera-Williams, RSM, is originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she is coordinator of pastoral care at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church. Since entering the Sisters of Mercy in 1982, she has ministered as an elementary, secondary, and divinity school educator. She has written and produced plays as well as directed and choreographed.]