Defining “Marvelous”

They are buried in one line under “Vowed Religious” on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Even the deacons get a whole paragraph before the sisters. (Because they are men?)

In these times, when nuns are under unfathomable attack, let’s remind ourselves just how far and wide the sisters have gone in this country alone to deliver service to the community through a variety of ministries.  The work they do ranges from the menial to the most intellectual. The more intellectual, the more threatening apparently to the “supreme authority” of the “authentic teachers of faith and morals” that the Vatican tells us the Bishops are.

There are nearly 60,000 nuns–well,OK, 57,113 nuns –in the United States. And they are at the heart of the story in these numbers:
Catholic Education
Total Catholic elementary and high school enrollment: 2,065,872
Elementary Schools: 5,774 schools educating 1,467,694 students
High Schools: 1,206 schools educating 598,178 students
Colleges and Universities: 235 institutions educating 804,826 students
Non-residential Schools for Handicapped Persons: 61 schools educating 59,160 students
Public School Students Receiving Religious Education: 11
Elementary School students: 3,012,495
High School students: 675,686

Catholic Health Care
Hospitals: 554 Catholic hospitals treated 89,501,723 patients
Other Health Care Centers: 357 centers treated 5,535,260 patients
Specialized Homes: 1,541 assisted 1,031,215 residents
Residential Care of Children: 418 locations assisted 28,941 residents

Catholic Charities
Social Services
In 2009, more than 2,391 local Catholic Charities agencies and institutions provided services to 9,164,981 unduplicated individuals in need of help.

  • Provided Services that Build Strong Communities to 3,956,234 people
    Social support services 1,999,189
    Education and enrichment 730,645
    Socialization and neighborhood services 490,850
    Health-related services 305,287
    Services to at-risk populations 430,263
  • Provided Food Services to 7,216,379 people
    Food banks and food pantries 3,281,135
    Soup kitchens 1,1,484,735
    Congregate dining 1,609,935
    Home delivered meals 264,731
    Other food services 575,843
  • Provided Services that Strengthen Families to 1,064,913 people
    Counseling and mental health services 419,222
    Immigration services 319,952
    Addiction services 87,315
    Refugee services 100,465
    Pregnancy services 93,977
    Adoption services 43,982
  • Provided Housing Related Services to 497,271 people
    Counseling and Assistance 205,262
    Temporary shelter 144,210
    Supervised living 64,789
    Permanent housing 60,196
    Transitional housing 22,814
  • Provided Other Basic Needs Services to 1,933,799 people
    Financial Assistance (not rent, mortgage, etc.) 234,292
    Clothing Assistance 604,873
    Utilities Assistance 332,815
    Assistance with Purchase of Prescriptions 50,566
    Additional Other Basic Needs Assistance 711,253

Thank you, sisters, for the vital role you play in making these services possible.

And thank you for recognizing that President Obama, through the “religious freedom” he has fostered, is doing more for these ministries than Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan and his “marvelous” budget ever will. Ryan ties himself in knots every time he presumes to wrap himself in Catholic social justice teaching.

President Obama’s policies give us all a much better chance at communal solidarity than the so-called policies of  “individual self-reliance”  (and self-enrichment) touted by the two “Rs.” (Amazingly, Obama wants even the people who do not work, especially the children, to eat.)

Unfortunately Romney and Ryan have little room for that third “R”—responsibility for those pushed to the margins that is the bedrock of Catholicism –and should be part of any democratic vision.

Come November, Catholics, whether fallen away or fervent, won’t have any trouble recognizing that it is Obama, the community organizer, who understands the importance of what the sisters do – and do so well.

‘Cos the sisters really are marvelous.


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Posted in Freedom of Religion, Healthcare, I BLOG, Justice, Nuns, Uncategorized, US Bishops, Vatican
6 comments on “Defining “Marvelous”
  1. Richard says:

    Thank you. Marvelous is a big understatement

  2. You’re right, Richard. Not sure any word will do justice to the breadth and depth of what the sisters have done for decades. Please invite others to celebrate the sisters and join their efforts to make people understand that the Paul Ryan budget is very un-Catholic and will hurt those most in need.I wish I could be there for one of their stops on the nine state “Nuns on the Bus” tour–but from Hawaii, that will be a little hard to do!! Thanks for the comment.

    • Richard says:

      Do you know where and when they’ll be coming through Ohio?I’d love to take a summer road trip and show my appreciation.
      I volunteer at a Catholic Worker soup kitchen. A couple of sisters come by and they also run two sise by side housing shelters for women and children.The bishops need to see how mundane it can be, with little to no glory. But day in day out, they help people in need get back on their feet over and over.That is the beacon of morality to me. Not doctrine or orthodoxy.The first rule of St. Benedict is “listen”. That is the last thing the current Benedict and his bishops know how to do. The Cleveland Ohio bishop recently called foe a meeting with parish prients because THEY are really irritated with him. Maybe that is a start.

      • Richard: here’s what is listed on the “nuns on the bus” website But I would recommend checking closer to your dates as there may be changes. Tell them a Malaysian Catholic, married to an American Episcopalian wishes them much aloha and is doing all she can to support their cause!
        Sunday June 24
        State: Ohio
        Toledo, Cincinnati

        Monday, June 25
        State: Ohio
        West Chester, Columbus

        Tuesday, June 26
        States: Ohio

        Wednesday, June 27
        State: Ohio and Pennsylvania
        Youngstown, Pittsburgh

  3. Teresita says:

    The nuns do great job supporting the parish and diocesan spiritual and temporal needs of not only parishioners but also anyone who seek their help. Sadly, their work is not recognized on the level that we accord the pastors. One example: in the Hawaii ” Grateful Hearts” appeal, retirement benefits for priests was one of the funding items but nothing for nuns. The nuns should have retirement benefits from the Diocese just like the priests.

  4. […] justice. At every stop, the sisters shared with members of the community and with law makers, their intimate understanding of what it means to minister to the poor and the sick, feed the hungry and welcome the immigrant. If the Gospels are anything to go by, we […]

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