Who Are the Franciscans?

By Patrick Carolan, Executive Director Franciscan Action Network

In my travels this week  I was in Detroit and had the opportunity to spend a few days at the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace in Berkley, Mich. Song and Spirit promotes greater understanding among people of diverse religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds through music, art, cultural programs, dialogue, study, organic farming, and compassionate acts of community service. This cultural and spiritual exchange advances the realization of Justice and World Peace. Song and Spirit was started by a Franciscan Friar and minstrel Brother Al Mascia, a Jewish Troubadour Maggid Steve Klaper and Mary Gilhuly, a Catholic mosaic artist.


Brother Al, Eva Haberkorn and Jim Greenwood

Song and Spirit provides a focus for creating a deep and meaningful connection between peace-making, compassionate action, social justice, the arts, care for creation and the advancement of human rights. In doing so, Maggid Steve, Brother Al and Mary link a Christian commitment to Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) with the Franciscan charism of serving the poor, marginalized and outcast. This is expressed by the Jewish as tikkun olam, the repair of the world; by the Muslims as zakat, one of the Five Pillars of Islam; and by the Hindus as daan, care of creation.

The Song and Spirit Institute for Peace is housed in a building that at one time was a Convent and later a novitiate house for seminarians. It includes the Spirit of Assisi programs where Brother Al and Maggid Steve stand together and share their faith traditions and through music and storytelling, explore how different faith traditions strengthen our own faith and inform each other. The Song and Spirit Care-avan, which is a specially equipped van, reaches out to the under served and those in need in more outlying regions.

Assisted by volunteers of various religious beliefs, Song and Spirit’s commitment to social justice and outreach brings together people of diverse faiths and cultures for the common cause of community service, as the first important steps toward healing the world. Everyone’s Garden, a community garden in partnership with the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace, is located on the grounds of the Institute. This project is working to develop a fully inclusive and organic community garden. Finally, the Art in Action is created in ongoing workshops and special day-long art experiences, through which we build friendships and create unique art work that helps sustain our peace-making efforts.

The Song and Spirit Institute for Peace is a wonderful example of how a few committed folks of different faith traditions working together in the spirit of St. Francis can help bring about social change and transform society.  For additional information click here.

Peace and All Good
Patrick Carolan


Published in: on August 9, 2013 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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