Nuns spread Pope’s message of inclusion in Topeka

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TOPEKA (KSNT) — The nuns who got off their big tour bus near the Topeka Rescue Mission Saturday morning do not fit the stereotype.

There were no long, black habits or rosary beads. But these women were on a mission from God.

“We should go on the road and bring Pope Francis’ message,” said Sister Simone Campbell, the leader of Network Nuns on the Bus.

This is the fourth tour for the group and they’re focused on sharing Pope’s Francis’ message of inclusion with cities in the Midwest and the South. With the “Bridging the Gap in U.S. Politics,” mission the women toured the Topeka Rescue Mission.

The women spoke with the residents at the mission over breakfast and learned one major concern is Medicaid expansion. An issue that former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius knows well.

Sebelius also served as the Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama from 2009 until 2014.

She joined the nuns for the day and saw their reaction to the disparity of care in the state.

“The fact that that is really going on in both Kansas and Missouri was kind of shocking to a number of the nuns on the bus and I think they will talk about that,” she said.

Their stops in Topeka didn’t end at the mission. The group hosted a town hall meeting at a local church to hear from more Kansans.

One of the goals of this trip is to gather stories to give to Pope Francis when he arrives in the United States in a few weeks.

Campbell says it is a way for the country to move toward a common goal.

“The truth is, we all have to change to find a common way forward,” she said. The town hall gave residents a chance to voice their concerns about the state and what they think Kansas needs.

The group will take all the answers they collect, find commonalities then send those to Congress with ideas for policy changes.

But the open mixture of church and state didn’t seem to upset the town hall attendants.

“I think that is the best possible way that faith and politics can intersect,” Jennifer Parson, the President of Douglas County NOW said. Parson said because the women are focused on things that would propel the common good the mixture of the two sometimes polarizing topics doesn’t bother her.

The tour ends in Washington, D.C.Note: Amy Bell is President of Kansas NOW.

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