Tom Roberts is NCR executive editor. Tom was NCR editor from 2000-2008. He is the author of The Emerging Catholic Church: A Community's Search for Itself (2011) and Joan Chittister: Her Journey from Certainty to Faith (2015), both published by Orbis Books.
NCR Connections: It is difficult to not see grand possibilities in this meeting of unlikely communities, ill-defined as the one might be. It is early in their meeting, but the nuns and "nones" seem to be embarking on an organic exploration of community, contemplation, spirituality.
One step in "Making a positive out of a negative," three communities of sisters gather at sites where violence has occurred and invite the larger community to a short vigil with simple elements — prayer, song, holy water — to show support to victims' families and bring awareness about violence in a city of 100,000 people. Take Back The Site began in 1999 and recently marked its 100th vigil.
The fifth annual Nuns on the Bus tour begins July 11. This year's theme is aimed at mending the gaps in U.S. society. The sisters will visit with people in 22 cities in 13 states and will be present in Cleveland, Ohio, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in time for both the Republican and Democratic national conventions.
A new study of Catholic sisters shows that the number of vowed women religious in the United States today is approximately the same as it was a century ago — just under 50,000.