"Nuns on a Bus" picks up speed in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The "Nuns on a Bus" campaign is picking up speed. It's a 15-day tour that spans across nine states and one of those pit stops was right here in South Bend.

The campaign was started by a group of nuns in protest of a budget plan that cuts services to the poor.

The nationwide effort centers around a budget plan passed by the house in Wisconsin, which will significantly cut funding to services to the poor. Now the initiative is gaining support right here in Michiana.

As they group rolled into town, they drew in a large crowd. Close to 350 people came to Good Shepherd Montessori School, in South Bend, for Thursday night's friend raiser.

Those that showed up not only came to applaud the sisters, but looked to them for encouragement.

"I came looking for hope and from what I've heard already, there is definitely hope being shared in that room with the sisters," said Paul McDowell.

That is a much different response than what the group has received from the Vatican.  The Vatican recently criticized American nuns for focusing too much on economic and social justice, rather than promoting the church's position on topics like abortion and birth control.

Sister Diane Donoghue, one of the 14 nuns leading the tour, said the bus tour was not done in spite of the criticism.

"The concerned sisters working most at the margins, is something that we always do and we are very confirmed in that. We stand by our bishops on this, that's why we are doing this," said Donoghue. 

As part of the campaign, the nuns have also written up a "faithful" budget proposal. They say the proposal could fairly replace Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan's budget plan.

Sister Donoghue said they hope this tour opens up a dialog with legislators so a common ground can be found.

"It's to work with our congressmen and with our communities to understand what this absolutely means. It's to help people find their voice to say this is not fair and for that reason we want to work together," said Donoghue.

The "Nuns on a Bus" stop in South Bend is only day four of the 15 day journey, which will end in Washington, D.C. 

Friday, June 22, at 10 a.m. the group will be visiting Congressman Joe Donelley's office to further their efforts before traveling to Grand Rapids, Mich.

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