A group of Roman Catholic nuns traveling across nine states to protest a national budget proposal that cuts social service programs briefly stopped at Loyola University Maryland on Saturday.

Known as the "Nuns on the Bus," the group, made up of sisters from different states, is protesting the current House budget, drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

The bus, sponsored by the Network lobbyist organization, has been drawing rallies at the offices of members of Congress over the past two weeks, where they say many supporters have come out in a show of support. A stop was scheduled for Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's Frederick office but was canceled due to power outages.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, they planned a "friend raiser" at the Stony Run Meeting House on Charles Street to meet with Baltimore area supporters before ending their tour Monday in Washington, D.C. There the nuns will hold their final rally at the Methodist Building on Maryland Avenue.

Sister Diane Donoghue with the Sisters of Social Services from Los Angeles and Sister Mary Ellen Lacy with the Daughters of Charity in Washington said that the budget proposal would affect programs that millions of Americans depend on each day, such as food stamps, Head Start, housing programs from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and others.

These programs, Sister Donoghue said, are meant to help people plan for the future, "to enable people affected by poverty."

Sister Lacy said, "We're the richest nation in the world; we shouldn't pretend to be the poorest."

While some critics have complained about fraud in different social service agencies, Lacy said that shouldn't affect those who need and receive such services.

So far, both nuns say, they have been overwhelmed by the responses from people when their bus rolls into towns.

"People agree with us," Sister Donoghue said.

While some might not agree with their message, Sister Lacy said many have been receptive because "sisters have a certain credibility. We don't make money from this."

The group also has an alternative budget proposal.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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