The Tenth Annual Gerard A. Vanderhaar Symposium will feature Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, a well-known advocate for the poor and disenfranchised, and leader of three “Nuns on the Bus” tours which placed the spotlight on the Catholic Church’s long standing commitment to social justice. Sister Simone will speak at the Symposium, held Thursday, April 16, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. in the University Theater at Christian Brothers University.
Since 2004, Sister Simone 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.
During the 2010 congressional debate about healthcare reform, she wrote the famous letter supporting the reform bill which 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, Sister Simone 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.
Sister Simone 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.
Prior to coming to NETWORK, Sister Simone 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, Sister Simone served as the general director of her religious community, the Sisters of Social Service. 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, Sister Simone founded and served for 18 years as the lead attorney for the Community Law Center in Oakland, California. She served the family law and probate needs of the working poor of her county.
She recently authored A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community, published in April 2014 by HarperCollins, and plans to be available to sign copies of her book following the talk.
Also that evening, 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.
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.
The Symposium is free and open to the public. For more information visit www.gvanderhaar.org.