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These Protesting Nuns Prove Resistance Knows No Age Limits

A group of nuns speak out about immigration policy—and two of the most vocal are over the age of 80.

In Washington, DC, last week, the Catholic Day of Action found hundreds of people outside the Capitol to express their beliefs. But this recent gathering was not just an expression of faith; rather, it was an outpouring of frustration with the Trump administration’s policy on immigration and especially the treatment of children. Organized by 15 Catholic groups, including Faith in Action and the Sisters of Mercy, it was a time to show up, be heard, and be seen. “We are here today because of our faith. The gospel compels us to act,” said Sister Ann Scholz, associate director for the social mission of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Protesters held photographs of the children who had died in federal custody and chanted their names. The demonstration proceeded inside the Russell Senate Office Building, which houses the offices of more than 30 U.S. senators. Some lay on the floor, their bodies forming a cross.

Read More: These Grandmothers and Aunties Are Trying to Solve the Border Crisis

Putting Faith into Action

These Protesting Nuns Prove Resistance Knows No Age Limits

(Left to right, in purple) Sr. Pat Murphy, Sr. JoAnn Persch and Jean Stokan of the Institute Justice Team at United States Capitol. Image: Sisters of Mercy of the Americas/Facebook

Among the voices raised were those of two nuns—one in her 80s, the other in her 90s—who work with immigrants and say the fear they grapple with is intense. “It’s so much worse now. So much worse than we’ve ever seen it, and every day my stomach sinks when something new comes out,” remarked Sister JoAnn Persch, 85, a Chicago nun with the Sisters of Mercy, in an interview with the Washington Post. “But you know what I’ve learned? I’ve learned that nuns have power. And that’s why we’re here.”

With her was Sister Pat Murphy, age 90. Both have been working with Su Casa, which is a Chicago refuge for women, children, and those who’ve survived torture in Central America. For years, they’ve prayed outside a local ICE facility that often processes immigrants who are being sent home. We love the Aging Boldly model they set for participating in these acts of civil disobedience.

Read More: The Most Unlikely College Sports Star is a 99-Year-Old Nun

Top image: Sister Jackie Moreau, associate Patricia Chasse, Sister Dale Jarvis, Sister Pat Pora taking part in protest in Portland, ME in July 2019. Image: Sisters of Mercy of the Americas/Facebook

By Janet Siroto


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