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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: . "My life is an open book," she says. Read her full reply.

laura October 28, 2012 at 07:09 PM
The school district may "belong" to all the taxpayers, but,indeed, those who have the most vested interest in how the district performs and benefits the children are those who have or had children attend it. Taxpayers who never had children in the shcool system by nature really don;t have teh same concerns as those who do now or had in the past. Seems pretty logical: if your kids are affected directly by district policies, then you care more than someone who simply is involved from a purely financial point of view. Wallets should not dictate school policies. Certainly, BUDGETS are of concern to taxpayers without children in the district, but I really doubt very many of those residents care much about the actual educational process or even standards in the district. They have minimal vested interest other than whether their tax bill will rise. Not too difficult to discern the difference.
Marie October 29, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Seems Kadner and The Patch purposefully ignore local candidates and political figures. If there are issues about a candidate, by all means reveal it. But Kadner and The Patch are oddly silent when it comes to demanding accountability from those local politicians who currently hold offices from mayor, school board, etc. who are liberal or RINOs. The biggest impacts we experience are from the local levels, and yet Kadner and The Patch are always deliberately silent.
Bob October 29, 2012 at 01:04 PM
laura, I've been involved in school improvement and local public schools for over 18 years now, and I've found that parents care very little about the overall quality of the schools, and whether the resources are being spent in the best interest of the children. They virutally always support taking more money from other people to spend on their kids, but they're pretty indifferent about the money being used to improve their children's education. I've been following school performance trends in local districts, but I have yet to hear a parent demand an explanation as to why school salaries and spending per pupil keep increasing at twice the rate of inflation, but objective student achievement isn't improving. I'm also appalled by the lack of knowledge by "involved" parents regarding their school's performance. During the Evergreen Park 124 teacher strike, I spoke to many parents about why they were supporting giving teachers above COLA raises that would result in their children having larger class sizes, programs being dropped and the laying off of young teachers. Most hadn't even bothered to look at the school budget on line, they just mindlessly "supported the teachers". Many were crowing about how their school was "superior" to others in the area, but when I asked them what test scores bore out that assumption, I found out they hadn't even looked at test scores (124 8th graders scored lower than state average in "exceeding standards" in math and reading)
laura October 29, 2012 at 03:30 PM
This is in response to you reply below, which left no reply option. Bob, please refrain from making blanket assumptions. We all know what "assume" does to u and me. I completely agree that teachers don't deserve above-COLA raises or tenure; they not be exempt from real business-world practices. I do not "crow" about how well my kids' schools performed; my children's own efforts are responsible for their own outcomes. I was not one of those overly "involved" parents because I recognized the futility of dealing with bureaucrats and teachers who wouldn't recognize or understand critical thinking skills if they tripped over "The Complete Primer to...." in the school's hallway! How can they teach those skills when often they lack that ability themselves? I am no fan of the current school system and definitely do not hold teachers on some pedestal. The teachers are only guides, and unfortunately, it has become terribly apparent that more than a few teachers are not particularly well-informed about their own core subjects. These shortcomings are magnified by bureacrats and other administrators more interested in padding their CVs as well as too many tenured teachers focused on bulking up their pensions before they retire. Perhaps the cry you say you hear for "more funds" is what you heard during the Evergreen Park strike; that, however, certainly does not speak for all parents!
lgables November 02, 2012 at 02:30 PM
I hope that Bellar is transparent with her background, as I would expect any candidate or public office holder to be - including President Obama. The columnist laments, "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." Does this columnist have the same concern about President Obama, who refuses to provide his school transcript history?

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