Sunday, May 03, 2009

Pray, Love, Build

As the flow-chart goes, she might just be a River City nun... but if TIME magazine has anything to say about it, Mary Scullion is more influential than The Pope Himself.

(Expect another foaming editorial from Civiltà Cattolica.)

Best known as the visionary founder of Philly's Project HOME, the Religious Sister of Mercy -- already, arguably, the City of Brotherly Love's best-loved, most-heeded religious leader of any stripe -- returned to the weekly's list of the World's 100 Most Influential People in late April, this time landing the #49 slot in the reader poll, topping such luminaries as Defense Secretary Robert Gates and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and media mogul Rupert Murdoch... and, again, indeed, The Pope Himself (for the record, B16 ranked 79th).

In the mag's rollout of the group, Scullion's profile was written by Elizabeth Gilbert, who some might know as the author of Eat, Pray, Love:
In 1976, a young Philadelphia nun named Sister Mary Scullion began her work as an advocate for the homeless, driven by a personal conviction that "none of us are home until all of us are home." By 2000, there were fewer than 200 people living on the streets of the City of Brotherly Love. That's in large part thanks to an extraordinarily well-run program, founded by Sister Mary and Joan McConnon. More than 95% of those who cycle through their Project H.O.M.E. (the acronym stands for Housing, Opportunities for Employment, Medical Care, Education) have never again returned to life on the streets — a success rate that has made the program a model for dozens of other U.S. cities. Meanwhile, Sister Mary, 55, has become the darling of luminaries like Bill Clinton, though that hasn't impacted her humility or her famously ribald sense of humor. When Jon Bon Jovi (a loyal Project supporter) described Mary to the press as a nun "who swears and spits," the good sister merely replied, "I do not spit" — and then returned to her work of tirelessly saving her city, one desperate citizen at a time.
Dubbed Pharaohtown's own "Mother Teresa," other outlets praising Scullion's Project have included no less than the "NBC Nightly News," which called Sr Mary "the nun who won't take 'no' for an answer."