"Living at the Intersection of Faith and Politics"

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, to Deliver Annual St. Marcellin Champagnat Lecture

POUGHKEEPSIE (April 25, 2013)  Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, will deliver the annual St. Marcellin Champagnat Lecture on Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. in the Nelly Goletti Theatre in the Marist College Student Center. The lecture, "Living at the Intersection of Faith and Politics," is sponsored by the St. Marcellin Endowment for Catholic Activities at Marist College and the College's Committee on Catholic Studies. It is free and open to the public.

Since Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum, modern Catholic social teaching has placed Catholics at the intersection of faith and politics. In this lecture, Sister Simone Campbell will discuss the relevance of Catholic social teaching to recent debates over health care and other issues. In the course of the discussion, she will describe her own efforts over the years to live out her vocation as a member of the Sisters of Social Service, a Catholic Religious Order called to live in the world at the service of the world.

Sister Simone Campbell is the Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby, a position she has held since 2004. 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. Around the country, she is a noted speaker and educator on these public policy issues.

During the 2010 congressional debate about healthcare reform, she wrote the famous “nuns’ letter” supporting the reform bill and got 59 leaders of Catholic Sisters, including the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), to sign on. This action was cited by many as critically important in passing the Affordable Care Act. She was thanked by President Obama and invited to the ceremony celebrating its being signed into law.

In 2012, she was also instrumental in organizing the “Nuns on the Bus” tour of nine states to oppose the “Ryan Budget” approved by the House of Representatives, which would have cut programs meant to help people in need. “Nuns on the Bus” received an avalanche of attention across the nation among religious communities, elected officials, and the media.

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 in those countries.

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, Calif, where she served the family law and probate needs of the working poor of her community.

About the St. Marcellin Champagnat Lecture

This annual lecture was created to perpetuate the memory of the canonization of Marcellin Champagnat in 1999. In 1817, Marcellin Champagnat founded the Marist Brothers, a teaching order dedicated to serving the educational and spiritual needs of our youth. His passionate spirit, daring vision, and persistent work have remained embodied in the mission of the Marist Brothers throughout the world. In 1905, the Marist Brothers established a training center in Poughkeepsie on the banks of the Hudson River on the site of what is now Marist College. Today, the College’s mission still reflects the ideals handed down by St. Marcellin and his Brothers.