Nuns on the Bus made a stop in Marietta on its five-day tour across Ohio Monday, to try to change the conversation in the state prior to the upcoming presidential election.
"We're concerned that we haven't heard either party speaking about the poor," said Sister Monica McGloin, a Dominican Sister of Hope who lives in Cincinnati.
Featuring Catholic Sisters from throughout Ohio and sponsored by the Catholic lobbying group Network and donations, the 1,000 mile bus tour allowed the Sisters to visit social service agencies and the people they serve who would be harmed by federal budget cuts.
SHARON BOPP The Marietta Times
Representatives from the Nuns on the Bus tour leave Congressman Bill Johnson’s Marietta office Monday amid protests from a largely pro-life group.
While in Marietta, members of the Nuns on the Bus tour visited with Congressman Bill Johnson in his Front Street office.
"Basically we wanted to talk to him about our trip...and express the concerns that we've heard," said McGloin. "People are really concerned about the notion that would give tax breaks to the wealthy while we're cutting funds that support programs that help people and communities."
Coinciding with the visit was a crowd of people, gathered on Front Street, many with signs, expressing a number of beliefs, agendas and passions.
At a glance:
Nuns on the Bus hit the road from Wednesday through Monday for a 1,000 mile tour through every region of Ohio. Nuns on the Bus is focused on the most vulnerable people in America and the budget cuts that threaten them.
The group's stops included Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Toledo, Akron, Athens and Marietta.
Sister Simone Campbell, leader of Nuns on the Bus, spoke at the Democratic National Convention in September.
"I'm here to stand up for what our nation was founded on," said Judy Drake, 73, of Belpre. "We need to be of the people, by the people and for the people."
"We're brothers and sisters of one blood and we need to be united," she added.
Unity was evident among the members of the individual groups present Monday but there was little sense of unity-or tolerance-for those with opposing viewpoints.
Jeanne Tasse of Marietta expressed her thoughts about the right to life movement and politics.
"I support right to life and feel the Romney ticket does support life," Tasse said.
When it comes to the Nuns on the Bus' emphasis on standing up for the poor, Tasse also voiced her opinion.
"I think that the Romney campaign will definitely take care of the poor. ...(Romney) has been so charitable to the poor and people in need," she said.
As members of the Nuns on the Bus tour left Congressman Bill Johnson's office, they walked through a crowd of demonstrators who did not support their cause. The assembled group expressed their disagreement with signs, buttons, prayers and more.
Returning to the Plumbers and Pipefitters #168 Hall where the tour bus was parked, Jim Rapp of Lowell spoke to the assembled crowd before introducing two of the Sisters from the Nuns on the Bus tour.
"We stand here together to celebrate our diversity and demand social justice for all," Rapp said.
Amidst cheers and a few heckles, McGloin spoke about the group's discussion with Johnson.
"A little dialogue is always helpful. We're not foolish enough to think that 10 minutes of dialogue will change (his mind)," she said.
Stressing to the crowd that the Nuns on the Bus organization is "pro life," Sister Monica said the group has many other concerns related to life.
"We do concern ourselves with living wages, access to health, education, food and housing and care for our seniors," she said.
Connie Wiltrot, 71, of Williamstown said she liked what the Nuns on the Bus group stands for.
"I'm here in support of the Nuns on the Bus, and I believe in Obama's values and his beliefs," she said.
Megan Krivchenia, 80, of Williamstown expressed her concerns about some of America's wealthy citizens.
"I'm here today because I am very fearful that people who might be in power have no concept of what it's like to live in the real world," Krivchenia said. "They talk about people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, but they don't have boots."