Welcome to the Secular Franciscan Order - USA Ecumenical / Interfaith Committee Network
Summer Newsletter
"Our vision is to educate and to raise the awareness of our Franciscan sisters and brothers in the United States to the ecumenical and interfaith movements in the Church."
“The Sultan and the Saint Docudrama”
A Review by Donna Hollis, OFS

“The Sultan and the Saint”
Review – Donna Hollis, OFS
The docudrama, “The Sultan and the Saint”, is about Muslim and Christian peacemaking.
The film was presented at Holy Family Catholic Church, Albuquerque, NM April 20th, 2017,
sponsored by the Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the New Mexico Islamic community who were in attendance. This film shown in Albuquerque is 1 of 50 premieres showing across the Country.  “The Sultan and the Saint” will be aired on PBS, December 18th, 2017.

Introduction of the docudrama was presented by several leaders.  Fr. Jack Clark Robinson, OFM, Provincial, introduced the event and welcomed all people in attendance.  He went on to share that God of all mankind has many names and ways of praying and honoring Him. Creation is the footprint of God the most High and the first gift to all humans to be shared by all.  We are intertwined with all creation, rooted in the earth that raise our hearts and minds to the heavens.  We share Mother Earth and the Sacred Space; this is our home.
The Producer of the film, Michael Wolfe, was introduced. He shared about the ‘Unity Production Foundation’ (UPF). The documentary was made to enhance discussions between the isles of different Faiths and listen to one another (Muslim and Christian communities).
In the intro clip it begins with a story, the props, costumes, sets and story lines.  The two stories of both the Sultan and St. Francis goes outside each of their faith traditions familiarity in order to bring peace among each other.  Both of their lives intertwine within the time of their own Faith journey.
Awards were given out:  The Peace award was given to Arch Bishop John Weston in Albuquerque not in attendance.
The Islamic Community Award was given to the leader of the Islamic Center based in Albuquerque.  He shares the same vision of building bridges and finding common ground among our beliefs.   

For more on Donna's Docudrama review hit the button below.
With Attentive Eye, Open Mind, and Heart 
by Mike Carsten OFS

     Recently in my day job, I had the honor of escorting one of our neighbors in downtown Detroit to his final resting place at the National Cemetery in Holly Michigan. Carl was a veteran of the Korean war and lived in section 8 housing in the inner city of Detroit. He was someone that I was able to serve in life and honor in death. Carl was given a full military funeral with a flag draped casket. The 21- gun salute, sounding out in the silence, demanded an acute awareness of lives lived and lost. 
     The National Cemetery in Holly is a beautiful place. My father is buried there. In going to the cemetery, whether to visit my dad or escorting one of our seniors, I am reminded of pilgrimage. Immediately upon entering, I find myself slowly moving in silence along a roadway that is lined with American flags, surrounded by perfectly placed white headstones shimmering and gleaming in the sunlight. Row after row after row.

     After Carl’s memorial service, I went to visit my dad. While standing in silence amongst all the headstones, I noticed (maybe for the first time) that there were many different religious symbols marking the top of each stone, most of them I did not recognize. I looked out across the vast white rolling field of thousands upon thousands of headstones and marveled at the amazing diversity of beliefs that were represented. In that moment, there was no need to debate the worthiness of individual belief systems. No need to defend my own beliefs. Just the silent witness of shared experience, unity in diversity and love of country. I was standing in the most ecumenical-interfaith place I have ever experienced. It is a Sacred Place.

    I quote the following as found in the Pilgrim's Companion To Franciscan Places (as printed by Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs):

  James Postell, teacher and architect, provides a rich explanation of sacred place: 
"Sacred has to do with both an inner and outer presence – a spiritual power, an intersection of Heaven and Earth. … Place implies human significance, human action derived from history, belief, ritual, and everyday… activity."  According to Postell, sacred places are perceived as sacred and serve to mark   important geographic, cultural, political, and religious transitions involving spiritual power. As such, their presence requires an attentive eye and open mind and heart.

     My pilgrimage to the National Cemetery allowed me a moment of insight. I was able to see and experience our “unity in diversity” as a nation in the signs and symbols we employ at death. I pray that with your help we together can work with attentive eyes, open minds, and hearts to educate and raise our awareness as Franciscan sisters and brothers to the ecumenical and interfaith efforts taking place in our communities, in our parishes, in the Church, and in the Franciscan movement.  We, then, may accept all people as a gift of the Lord.


Polarization in the US Catholic Church
Naming the Wounds, Beginning to Heal
Mary Ellen KoniecznyCharles C. CamosyTricia C. Bruce
Liturgical PressAug 12, 2016 -  Religion -  200 pages
It is no secret: the body of Christ in the United States is broken. While universality—and unity amid diversity—is a fundamental characteristic of Roman Catholicism, all-too-familiar issues related to gender, sexuality, race, and authority have rent the church. Healthy debates, characteristic of a living tradition, suffer instead from an absence of genuine engagement and dialogue. But there is still much that binds American Catholics. In naming the wounds and exploring their social and religious underpinnings,  Polarization in the US Catholic Church underscores how shared beliefs and aspirations can heal deep fissures and the hurts they have caused. Cutting across disciplinary and political lines, this volume brings essential commentary in the direction of reclaimed universality among American Catholics.

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:
I was surprised to see in   TAU-USA  (Spring 2017) an article by an Islamic Imam; it was part of a report by our Ecumenical Interfaith Committee (EIC). The Imam did comment impressively on the Francis/Sultan story, but preceding it were some Quranal references. Without any editorial commentary, some unintended results might occur.  
The following are three of the Imam's doctrinal references, along with three possible reactions in the readers:   (1)  The Imam said:  Adam...brought Islam to humanity.” To this statement, one reader might think,  Oh, I didn't know that ; another reader might simply surmise,  This is not true;  and a third dismisses it all with,  What difference does it make?  (2)  The Imam said:  “...each of the prophets  [ includ ing  Jesus ]  offered teachings relevant to their times.” Again, one might think,  I didn't know that; I thought the Gospel was relevant to all times!  The second reader  might  conclude,  This is not true.  While the third sticks with,  What difference does it make?  (3)  The Imam said :  “God chose the final prophet, Muhammad, to come with the Last Testament, referred to as the Quran.” To which there might be these three perceptions: (a)  I thought Jesus was the final prophet, and I certainly did not know that there are three Testaments. (b.) All of that is simply not true! a nd (c)  What difference does it make?
To summarize my contentions: If an Imam is allowed a public forum in TAU-USA – without any commentary, we risk having the possibility of division in the Order: the “faithful”, the doubtful, and the indifferent. The EIC is well aware of the Church's guidelines on dialogue with Muslims. What we can use is a TAU-USA policy. Imam Arafat sounds like a very sincere and admirable teacher, but should any Imam have  unbridled  access to thousands of our members who read TAU-USA? 
Walter F. Stichart, OFS
Our Lady of Angels Fraternity
Deer Park, Washington

What is "The Joint Committee on Franciscan Unity"?

"The Joint Committee on Franciscan Unity is a committee made up of two representatives each from the Third Order Society of St. Francis, Province of the Americas (TSSF, Anglican Communion), the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans (OEF), and the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS, Latin and Eastern Rite Communion). This committee was formed with the hope and goal of bringing together Christians of various lineages who seek to follow the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the footsteps of St. Francis."  

Does your regional fraternity already have an OFS - Ecumenical/Interfaith representative working with your regional council?

Does your local fraternity have an OFS - Ecumenical / Interfaith representative working with your local fraternity council?  

If yes, please help us connect.
If no, why not? 

If you're interested in becoming a member of the OFS-USA-EIC Network, just send me a note. 

Please send us your Ecumenical/Interfaith related articles/stories, photos and event information as well as any suggestions or comments. 

If we can help in any way, regionally or locally please let us know.

Peace be with you


Desk - 313-309-1277  
E-mail - mikecars10@gmail.com
Web Site - ofsusaecumenicalinterfaith.org
Facebook - @OFSUSAEIC
Twitter - @Ofs_Usa_Eic
OFS-USA Ecumenical / Interfaith Committee
Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat (CC)
Mike Carsten OFS - Chair
Rabbi Dorit Edit (CC)
Donna Hollis OFS