CBU to feature ‘Nuns on the Bus’ speaker at April 16 symposium

Sister Simone Campbell
Sister Simone Campbell

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tenth Annual Gerard A. Vanderhaar Symposium will feature Sister Simone Campbell of the Sisters of Social Service (SSS). She will speak at the symposium 7-9 p.m. April 16 in the University Theater at Christian Brothers University.

The symposium is free and open to the public.

Campbell is a well-known advocate for the poor and disenfranchised and the leader of three “Nuns on the Bus” tours, which placed the spotlight on the Catholic Church’s focus on social justice.

She wrote, “A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community,” published in April 2014 by HarperCollins. She plans to be available to sign copies of her book following the Vanderhaar Symposium address.

Also at the Symposium, a Mid-South university student will be recognized with the Dr. Gerard A. Vanderhaar Student Peace Award. Annually, this award is given to a student who best exemplifies the spirit and practice of nonviolence consistent with Dr. Vanderhaar’s life and work. The recipient will make a brief presentation of his/her work prior to the lecture.

Background on Sister Simone Campbell

Since 2004 Campbell has served as executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby. She is a religious leader, attorney and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. In Washington, she lobbies on issues of peace-building, immigration reform, healthcare and economic justice.

SSS-logoDuring the 2010 congressional debate about healthcare reform, she wrote a famous letter supporting the reform bill that was signed by 59 Catholic Sisters, including the Leadership Conference of Women’s Religious. Cited by many as critically important in passing the Affordable Care Act, Campbell was thanked by President Obama and invited to the ceremony celebrating its being signed into law.

In 2012, she was instrumental in organizing the “Nuns on the Bus” tour of nine states to oppose the “Ryan Budget” approved by the House of Representatives. That tour was followed with a cross-country trip focused on immigration reform in 2013, and a “We the People” tour that encouraged people to vote and called upon candidates to commit to crafting a budget that benefits everyone, secures healthcare for all, protects immigrant rights, and promotes nonviolent solutions to conflict.

Campbelle has often been featured in the national and international media, including appearances on 60 Minutes, Tavis Smiley, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She has received numerous awards, including a “Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award” and the “Defender of Democracy Award” from the international Parliamentarians for Global Action.

Before coming to NETWORK, Campbell served as the Executive Director of JERICHO, the California interfaith public policy organization that works like NETWORK to protect the interests of people living in poverty. She also participated in a delegation of religious leaders to Iraq in December 2002, just prior to the war, and was later (while at NETWORK) part of a Catholic Relief Services delegation to Lebanon and Syria to study the Iraqi refugee situation there.

Before JERICHO, Campbell served as the general director of her religious community, SSS. She was the leader of her Sisters in the United States, Mexico, Taiwan and the Philippines. In this capacity, she negotiated with government and religious leaders in each of these countries.

In 1978, Campbell founded and served for 18 years as the lead attorney for the Community Law Center in Oakland, Calif. She served the family law and probate needs of the working poor of her county.

Background on the symposium

The Vanderhaar Symposium was founded in honor of Dr. Gerard A. Vanderhaar, a professor of religion for 28 years at Christian Brothers University, who spent his lifetime promoting peace and active nonviolence. Each year, the Symposium invites a noted scholar and/or activist to address social and moral issues related to peace and justice and/or Catholic social teaching.

For more information visit www.gvanderhaar.org. For more information contact Sean MacInnes at smacinne@cbu.edu or (901) 321-3335. # # #