Nuns on the Bus pull into Chicago

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A bus ferrying nuns pulled in front of the University of Illinois at Chicago to deliver a message on the importance of voting.

“We are out on the road challenging people to claim their power,” said Sister Simone Campbell of Washington, D.C., at a news conference there Thursday.

Her “We the People, We the Voters” bus tour, organized by NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, is engaging and encouraging voter registration at 75 events in 36 cities along a 5,252 mile route. The group also is preaching the importance of voters becoming educated on where candidates stand on issues.

“Our day in Chicago is like espresso. It’s a small portion, but really powerful,” Campbell said.

She cited news in June that 60 percent of Americans didn’t know there is an election in November.

“That is horrifying in a democracy that is based voting,” she said. “…The way we exercise our power in a democracy is by voting.”

During the 2012 election, Sister Simone and Nuns on the Bus traveled the country raising awareness and speaking out against a U.S. House budget proposal that the group said would decimate programs to help the poor. The nuns made additional trips to support Medicaid expansion and immigration reform.

Sister Rosemary LaFlaur of the Congregation of St. Joseph in La Grange, was among roughly 50 nuns from the Chicago area volunteering in the Nuns on the Bus campaign here Thursday.

“We want to help promote people to vote,” said LaFlaur. “It is so important to be able to use the rights that you have, not just to stand by and let somebody else do it,” she said. “The somebody is you.”

Nuns on the Bus, is partnering with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Jane Addams Hull-House and Arise Chicago.

Jerel Ballard, a sophomore at Columbia College, where he said he is a member of the student government association, appreciated the nuns’ efforts.

“I think its important that youth are getting out there and voting,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Pat Quinn told reporters in Union Park prior to the voterrally that a decent wage is paramount to a just society.

“Pope Francis told all of us on the planet Earth that we have to have an economy of inclusion,” Quinn said, as nuns stood behind him. “Everybody in and nobody left out. We don’t want anyone marginalized.”

Quinn said he wants the minimum wage raised and the only way to dothat is to encourage Illinois residents to vote in the Novemberelection.

“I have the opportunity to have collective bargaining and have a goodwage and safe working conditions,”Quinn said. “This is fundamental to a decent society.”

Quinn called the nuns of Nuns on the Bus “our social conscience.” Andcongratulated newly appointed Archbishop of Chicago Blase Cupich,saying he understands the importance of social justice.

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