How the nuns saved Obamacare

Podcast: Sister Simone Campbell, of the Nuns on the Bus, tells an amazing story. Originally posted on December 20, 2013 — The Good Fight with Ben Wikler

In the final days before the bill passed, who saved Obamacare? Catholic nuns. Sister Simone Campbell—one of the most charming, utterly down-to-earth, and profoundly committed people I’ve ever met—explains why. And in the process, she tells her own fascinating story, from an anti-segregation sit-in where, as a teenager, she decided to take her vows, all the way to the present and her delight in the joyous tone set by Pope Francis.   a 32min podcast. Interview starts around 3:10


Should laypeople have a role in choosing their bishops?

US Catholic – January 2014 – Sounding Board – on line survey

 (Editor’s note:  After reading the article linked below from US Catholic, be sure to visit, if you have not already done so).

It’s time for the flock to have their say when it comes to selecting the shepherds of the church.

By Nicholas Cafardi, dean emeritus and professor of law at Duquesne University, is a former chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Fr. Helmut Schüller Concludes his Catholic Tipping Point Tour

[This message from CTA Metro-NY is shared with Upstate NY CTA.]


On Thursday, August 8, Fr. Schuller concluded his tour with the delivery to Cardinal Dolan of the thousands of symbolic Red Ribbons gathered during his speaking events across the country with packed audiences who came to hear him and engage in dialogue.



Here are a few photos of his last event:  delivering the basket of red ribbons to Cardinal Dolan.  Despite repeated good faith efforts to arrange a meeting with the Cardinal or his designee, no one from his office agreed to meet Fr. Schuller and our representatives in person.
So  Fr. Schuller first went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and made a videotaped message regarding his tour, and then delivered the basket of ribbons in a large box to the chancery’s office, and included a letter to Cardinal Dolan with his reflections on his tour, which he felt was very positive.


Below, the photos and the press statement and the attached (and interesting) city-by-city brief report, and a link to his letter.



Representatives of sponsoring groups accompanying Fr. Schuller:

Joann Vanek, FutureChurch; Nancy Lorence, Call To Action; Louis Speakes

and Francis Piderit of VOTF NY.







While Fr. Schuller was making his statement, an Austrian family on vacation

just happened to pass by and recognized him from having heard him speak

about his tour before he – and they – had left Austria.  They were very

moved to meet him in person, especially since it happened by chance.



Rev. Helmut Schüller Concludes U.S. Tour, Bringing Reform Message to St. Patrick’s Cathedral


Fr. Helmut Schüller concluded his three-week, 15-city Catholic Tipping Point tour across America on Thursday, Aug. 8th, on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, delivering both a strong call for church reform and thousands of red ribbons signed by supportive Catholic laity and clergy during his tour  to Cardinal Timothy Dolan as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


Schüller is founder of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative that issued a global “Call to Disobedience” in 2011, calling for the admission of women and married people to the priesthood as well as greater lay leadership and transparency in Church governance. He visited the U.S. to share his experiences and to learn about conditions in the Catholic Church in America.


“I discovered many faithful Catholics working hard to change the church they love very much,” Schüller said. “I also spoke with many priests who see the need for change, but are afraid to raise their voices. There is no place for fear or intimidation in the Catholic Church. We all must speak out for our rights as Catholics.”


“We are grateful to Fr. Schüller for advancing a much needed conversation among U.S. Catholics,” said Sr. Chris Schenk, CSJ, a coordinator of the tour. “This honest dialogue will continue and spread as we connect with Catholics in other countries. The People of God need to be fully represented in Church leadership and decision-making.”


Schüller began his U.S. tour in New York City on July 16th, and organizers estimate that he spoke to over 5,000 Catholics during his appearances.  Many thousands more tuned in via live-streaming and online video. *


Throughout the tour, Fr. Schüller and attendees wore red ribbons symbolizing the spirit of Pentecost and calling for inclusion of the laity at every level of leadership and decision-making in the Church. It was these same ribbons that Schuller delivered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral today.


Schüller also met privately with U.S. priests in each city. These meetings called attention to the dilemma aging priests experience as they minister each day knowing there is no one to replace them when they die or retire. A National Federation of Priests’ Councils study found that for every 100 priests who retire, only 30 are available to replace them. Fr. Dan Hartnett in Cincinnati lauded Fr. Schüller for his “intellect, humility, and strategic mind… Instead of excluding him, we should be grateful for what he is trying to achieve.”  Attempts by bishop-leaders in three U.S. dioceses to ban Catholics from hearing Fr. Schüller, backfired; in each city where he was banned, hundreds of Catholics turned out to welcome him and to hear his message.


The tour was sponsored by ten progressive Catholic organizations that support Schüller’s calls for inclusive and transparent changes to Church governance, including greater lay participation, married and women priests, and justice for LGBT persons within the Church. Groups sponsoring the tour are committed to advancing an international movement of Catholics working for fundamental rights in the Church.


* See attached Report by City for detailed information


Read Fr. Schüller’s letter to Cardinal Dolan  (ctrl + click)

Looking ahead, sponsoring groups  of the Catholic Tipping Point coalition are committed to “supporting an international movement of priests and people working together for fundamental rights in the Church.  We want the People of God to be included at every level of Church leadership and decision-making.”

In a final interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Fr. Helmut praised our coalition saying he was impressed with the organization of Catholic reform movements in the U.S. and, praised the “splendid cooperation” among the groups, “sometimes without knowing one another.”

Thanks to all who helped make this tour a success.


For more information and press coverage of the tour,  visit


Sponsored by: Call To Action, CORPUS, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, DignityUSA, FutureChurch, New Ways Ministry, National Coalition of American Nuns, Quixote Center – Catholics Speak Out!, Voice of the Faithful, and Women’s Ordination Conference





pdf icon CTA-Schuller-City-by-City-Catholic-Tipping-Point-tour.pdf

Mary Magdalen Homily

At the Mary Magdalen celebration held in Albany on July 23rd, a magnificent homily was presented by MaryAnn Louison of Amsterdam.  It is reprinted below.

Also the “Table of Honor”, below,  was full of items brought in by members and friends.  The Items held special spiritual significance to the individuals and they shared their stories by writing information on cards placed next to the items.

Homily for the Feast of Mary Magdalene

by MaryAnn Dignazio Louison

What’s in a name?

William Shakespeare penned in “Romeo and Juliet”:  “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

What is in a name, then?  An identity? An image?  A memory?  A story?

Mary Magdalene…Mary of Magdala…The Magdalene…Miriam (the likely form of Mary in biblical times) or just plain Mary as Jesus addressed her in the garden…

The Mary that we celebrate today would answer to all of these…

We celebrate Mary Magdalene, a woman so long caught up in mistaken identities (prostitute, penitent, public sinner); until finally gaining the reputation of her true self – first and foremost, a woman of her times (and yet not of her times, for she goes beyond it and reaches out to us as a woman for our time, as well). 

Mary Magdalene, a woman who received Jesus’ invitation to come, to follow, and to proclaim and that she did!

We may not know much about Mary Magdalene from the stories, but we know enough about her to recognize her leadership among the women and the apostles that were part of her community circles.  Mary Magdalene, the one woman, who has a name that takes a significant role in every gospel.  Mary Magdalene, the one woman who is mentioned more than any other woman – save Mary, the Mother of Jesus – in the Gospels.  In her time, that is no small feat.

Mary Magdalene whose words bearing the news “I have seen the Lord,” resound through centuries.  They enliven us still today as we proclaim with our lives that we too have seen the Lord.

But now, just “what if”?  What if there had been no Mary Magdalene…what if Mary Magdalene had been so overcome by apathy, fear, or indifference and not accept the call to discipleship…or what if, in that early morning darkness she allowed herself to give in to the darkness within herself – either of her own making – or the influence of others – and decided not to enter the tomb…not at all!

That would have changed the whole story.  Would there even be a resurrection story?  What would we celebrate…The name of Mary Magdalene would be unknown to us…Her witness and her proclamation:  “I have seen the Lord” would not have received or heard, not just among her own circles but in the ever widening ripples that have been sent out through the ages and lives among us today. 

Instead, Mary Magdalene brought total presence to her circumstances and the need at hand.  She faces the darkness, stays on until the light appears, informs her community of disciples what she has experienced, returns with them, and this time, does not leave but stays behind as they return to their “usual” lives.  Her life can never be usual again.

She confronts the perceived gardener (the Jesus she did not recognize), tactfully and straightforwardly:  “Sir, tell me where you laid him and I will take him”.  You’ll take him, Mary?  You, a woman, already deemed uncleaned by your very womanliness – your value seen only in being someone else’s property? You would take him?  Mary, what were you thinking?

Maybe, this is our insight into what Mary Magdalene had been thinking.  With that response to action, Mary does what she has done all along.  She shatters the stereotypes, attitudes, and expectations placed on women of her day.  Her “role” is not a role, but rather a presence as a disciple and a leader in the early forming church. 

We ask today in the midst of judgments and declarations that make one wonder, “What is the role of women in the church?”  I say, look at Mary Magdalene.  The question instead becomes:  “What role could there possible be where women could not have a presence in the church?”  What place could there possibly be that women could not go?  Mary Magdalene did what needed to be done in the circumstances of her day, in spite of the cultural and societal and yes, even religious attitudes in which she lived.  It was Mary’s acceptance of discipleship in which she placed her full presence that leads us to know that is no place or function that need disregard the contribution and participation of women.

Yes, we are centuries apart from Mary of Magdala.  Yet, the images, memories and stories which encompass that name moves us forward from the dark spaces into the light, crossing barriers and widening circles.

Look around us gathered tonight.  Think of the names that represent us…our own and the names of those we carry in our being.  We carry the spirits of so many who have been a part of our creation and our continual recreation of who we are…especially as church.

Mary’s presence and the presence of the other women we remember and hold in our hearts today has brought us to where we stand and who we stand with…we have new meaning, too, with the idea of “standing with” as we remember the “sisters” and all sisters of our church.  We are in solidarity with the women past, present and to come who continually chip away at the walls, crack the glass ceilings, and pry open those shuttered windows and doors.  And yes, we recognize the men who collaborate with us as equals especially within our church structures and we are grateful.

What is women’s role?  I say again, what could there possibly be that isn’t our role…where could there possible be a place that we could not go…or have not already been…?

You have seen us on the bus and off, or waiting in welcome for the bus to arrive or blessing its departures.  You have been with us in the cathedrals and out side the cathedrals, on the river and on the shore…

You see us and pass us by in the churches we built of brick and mortar, and in the churches/the sacred places that God created/the lives of the people on the highways and byways of the People of God; some of whom may never enter the “church” by the   doorway of a building, yet just might enter through the door of a listening heart and compassionate spirit.

So, then, in the name of Mary Magdalene, let us rejoice in this feast by taking her message “I have seen the Lord” and proclaiming it to a church of wide open doors and windows…minds and hearts for we have all seen the Lord.

And let the church say Amen!!!