In April 2012, the Vatican censured 80% of American Catholic Sisters for promoting “radical feminist themes,” and specifically targeted NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, the organization for which Sister Simone is Executive Director, for focusing too much on poverty and economic justice issues.
Two months later, in response to the Vatican reprimand and Representative Paul Ryan’s statement that his proposed budget cuts were grounded in Catholic Social Teaching, Sister Simone and a group of nuns set out on a two-week bus trip through nine states. Their goals were to spotlight the needs of people at the margins, to lift up the work of Catholic nuns in meeting those needs, and reclaim Catholic social justice values as supportive of responsible government programs benefiting 100 percent of Americans.
Days before the June, 2012 bus trip was set to begin, filmmaker Melissa Regan read about NETWORK’s upcoming Nuns on the Bus tour and was so inspired that she jumped on a plane to join the nuns in Iowa and ride the bus with cameras rolling. For the next year Regan was stuck like glue to Sister Simone, traveling with her to Capitol Hill, the Democratic National Convention, The Colbert Report, and even to Rome. Regan was granted intimate access to Sister Simone at home, at the office, with friends, and with her Sisters of Social Service. A year later, Regan was embedded again with the nuns on a three-week bus tour from the shores of Ellis Island in New Jersey to Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay, this time to advocate for immigration reform. While the Sisters rallied crowds, debated with legislators, and spoke with communities and individuals affected by current policy, Regan caught it all.
“Following Sister Simone and the Nuns on the Bus has been inspiring (and exhausting!) and has changed my life. With this film I hope to share a sense of their courage, persistence, community, deeply rooted faith, and humor,” said Regan.
Billed as “A funny and poignant documentary film about courage, values, democracy...and nuns,” Regan and her team at Epiphany Productions hope their film and outreach campaign inspire people of any religion—or no religion at all—to take bold steps toward reclaiming our common values as a nation.
“The wealth gap continues to grow and our politics are gridlocked and held hostage by polarized debates about social safety nets vs. free-market individualism,”
The story continues to unfold. The Vatican censure has been reaffirmed by Pope Francis and the nuns were again chastised by the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in particularly blunt language. Sister Simone continues to draw major media attention with messages about poverty, immigration and other national policy issues, appearing on “60 Minutes,” “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” the 2012 Democratic National Convention, in interviews with Bill O’Reilly, Bill Moyers, and Rachel Maddow, and just last week on “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
The timely documentary, NUNS ON THE BUS – THE MOVIE! follows Sister Simone Campbell’s personal journey into the public eye as she demystifies this role of nuns, navigates the complicated terrain between faith and politics, and challenges two of the world’s largest institutions – the Catholic Church and the U.S. government – to reclaim their core values.
Through the online fundraising platform Indiegogo.com, the filmmakers of NUNS ON THE BUS – THE MOVIE! aim to raise at least $50,000 by June 20th. Money raised will help finish and release the film, including editing more than 150 hours of footage, continuing a series of high-profile interviews, and creating original animation and music. Supporters who contribute to the film’s campaign will receive a variety of rewards including digital downloads and DVDs, film premiere invitations, an exclusive Sister Simone ringtone, and even dinner with Sister Simone and filmmaker Melissa Regan.
To learn more about the film and Indiegogo campaign, please visit
"Sister, you and your fellow nuns have clearly gone rogue.”
-- Stephen Colbert
"The Holy Spirit is making mischief!"
-- Sister Simone Campbell
About Epiphany Productions
Epiphany Productions is an award-winning media production company in Oakland, California, that creates documentary film, digital media, and global engagement campaigns to inspire, educate, and drive change. Founder and director Melissa Regan’s Sundance award-winning documentary film NO DUMB QUESTIONS (www.nodumbquestions.com) has appeared on HBO, PBS and Oprah and is distributed through New Day Films.
NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby based in Washington DC, is a Catholic leader in the global movement for justice and peace which educates, organizes and lobbies for economic and social transformation. (www.networklobby.org)