Sister Susan Francois was sitting at the Chicago O'Hare Airport waiting for her flight back to Newark, just a few days after President Donald Trump's inauguration in January 2017. In the background, reporters on TV discussed "alternative facts."
"I am going to go crazy if I don't come up with some calming spiritual practice that keeps me engaged but does not add to the negativity," Sister Susan, 46, told the New York Times in a recent interview.
So she tweeted. On January 23, 2017, Sister Susan went on the president's preferred social media platform and wrote a Twitter message.
"My first #dailytweet @POTUS A) Praying for you and country B) Please release your tax returns as you pledged on campaign #TrumpTaxReturns."
That was 663 days ago. Ever since that day, she takes a few minutes out of her morning to publicly pray for Trump and for the country. It has been everything but easy, she told the New York Times. But she made a commitment, and she is sticking to it.
"It's been the hardest spiritual practice I've ever committed to," she admitted in the interview.
Sister Susan spent most of the 1990s as a self-identified "ex-Catholic," she said. As a teenager, she started to request to work Saturday and Sunday shifts at Kmart to avoid going to church. But at the turn of the millennium, she became interested in her religion again.Sister Susan realized she felt that, despite her high-powered career, she found the most joy in her volunteer work. She started filling her time with church duties again, which made her see the connection between her social mission and Catholicism, the report explained. In 2005, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace religious order on the West Coast. There, Sister Susan noticed other nuns praying to President George W. Bush and later, President Barack Obama, she said.
For 15 years, Sister Susan has watched the news as a source of inspiration for her prayers. She would observe what is happening in the world, and pray. Sister Susan chose to tag @POTUS -- and not @realDonaldTrump -- because the tweets of the official account of the president of the United States are archived, she said.
"[I]t is important for consistency and for history to know that ordinary people didn't look away. I wanted it to be a record of history that a Catholic sister wanted to tweet a nonviolent prayer at the president."
In her latest tweet, Sister Susan tackled the issue of climate change, praying that the president acknowledge its long-term impacts. In her tweet, she urged Trump to "choose to be on the right side of history."