On Film: Catholic Nuns’ Advocacy, Hunger in America

Maria Hayes Around the Province

Franciscan organizations in the United States are bringing social justice issues to the forefront by screening films that focus on the role of Catholic nuns in advocating for the poor and the problems that hunger creates in America.

The story of nuns and their work for social justice after the Second Vatican Council is featured in the movie “Band of Sisters.” Recommended by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, N.Y., the film weaves history with current day events as it follows two sisters who are working for the rights of immigrant detainees. “Band of Sisters” also explores the cutting edge work of other sisters in affordable housing, the movement to close the School of the Americas, holistic health care for low-income people and more.

For Catholics who wonder what became of the nuns they knew in habits and convents many years ago, for activists who may feel profoundly discouraged given the problems of today’s world, for women seeking equality in the Church, and for people of all faiths yearning for an inclusive and contemplative spirituality, “Band of Sisters” challenges viewers to ask what really matters in life.

The film premiered in Chicago in 2012 and since then has been drawing audiences at independent movie theaters, art museums, colleges, convents, retreat centers and churches in more than 70 cities around the United States. A list of screenings can be found online. The film will be shown near Holy Name Province ministries in Buffalo, N.Y., on June 12 and in Philadelphia on Sept. 28.

Several other films related to social justice issues have been recommended by St. John the Baptist Province through its May 29 newsletter, including the documentary “A Place at the Table.” As of 2012, roughly 50 million Americans were food insecure, with one in every two children receiving federal food assistance. “A Place at the Table” tells the story of hunger in America, showing its serious economic, social and cultural implications. The film states that hunger can be ended forever if the American public decides that making healthy food available and affordable is in everyone’s best interest.

Editor’s note: Newsletter readers — both friars and laypeople — are welcome to submit information to the HNP Communications Office about meaningful movies for possible inclusion in future issues of HNP Today. Emails should be sent to communications@hnp.org.

 Compiled by Maria Hayes