Did Barbara Bellar Fib About Being a Nun?
The 18th District Senate candidate says she was a Benedictine nun for five years, but the prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago says otherwise.
“Barbara Bellar, State Senate, There’s ‘Nun’ Better.”
Those words are stamped at the top of Republican State Senate candidate Barbara Bellar's website.
The play on words reflects the time the 65-year-old Burr Ridge woman spent as a Benedictine nun before earning medical and law degrees.
But Sun-Times Media columnist Phil Kadner has been pressing Bellar — who faces State Rep. Bill Cunningham, a Democrat, for the 18th District Senate seat — for more detail on her background. The district takes in parts of Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Palos Park, Palos Hills and the 19th Ward on the Southwest Side of Chicago.
In a column published Tuesday, Kadner writes:
... when asked if she ever took vows of fidelity and obedience she refused to return telephone calls for days and repeatedly walked away from this columnist during a Republican candidate forum at Moraine Valley Community College on Saturday.
“Dr. Bellar served as a Benedictine nun for five years and remains active in her church,” Bellar claims in a biography on her campaign website, which includes a logo that reads:
But Sister Patricia Crowley, prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago, said Bellar was only a postulant in the order, meaning she was there for a year and was a candidate to join the order. ...
“You are a postulant, which is the first stage and lasts about a year, and then become a novice, which requires a vote (by the order) to be accepted, Crowley said.
“After a year or two after that you would take your vows.
“All I can tell you is that Barbara Bellar was a postulant here and never became a novice and never took any vows.”
Kadner also reveals that Bellar earned her medical degree in Mexico — confirmed by records on file at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation — not New York Medical School, where she took a one-year course.
But Bellar's official "life journey" on her campaign website reads:
"... she pursued her undergraduate education at Mundelein College/Loyola University, completing a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Biology. She worked in endocrinology research at both the University of Chicago, and Loyola University while receiving her Teacher’s Certification, and then completing a B.H.S. as a Physician Assistant. Continuing on her path of working and studying, she completed Medical School and an Intern year at New York Medical College and then completed a Family Practice Residency at University of Illinois."
Dr. Bellar is getting more attention these days due to a YouTube video in which the she blasts Obamacare, which now has topped 3 million views.
"God should decide how long we live, not President Obama," she said at a Palos Hills candidate forum earlier this month covered by Patch.
In addition to her religious training, her bachelor degrees, her law degree from St Louis University and John Marshall Law School, her masters degree in bioethics and health policy from Loyola University, Bellar serves in the Army Reserve with the rank of major, works full-time as a physician and is earning a second masters degree in public health while running for the State Senate.
But Bellar won't answer any of Kadner's questions about her record, and that doesn't sit well with the columnist.
"What troubles me the most is that someone running for public office simply refuses to answer questions in person or return phone calls challenging her credentials."
Well, that's understandable. She seems to be very, very busy.
Update: On Wednesday morning, Barbara Bellar issued a written response to Phil Kadner's column. "My life is an open book," she says. Read her full reply.