Rev. Rebecca Mahr Cartus (FCM)
The Reverend Rebecca Mahr Cartus (FCM) is a clergy woman ordained through the Federation of Christian Ministries (2013). She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Arts from Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA (1977), a Master of Arts degree in Rhetoric and Communication from the University of Pittsburgh (1982), and a Master of Divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (2006). She also participated in a spiritual direction program at Villa Maria Education and Spirituality Center (2011-12). Rev. Cartus held church positions as a Director of Religious Education, (Shadyside Presbyterian Church; The Coraopolis United Methodist Church; The Presbyterian Church of Coraopolis), as a Director of Youth Ministries (The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley) and as a minister (The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Smithton). At present, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Mahr Speaking Services (www.momomahrspeaks.com).
A professionally certified teacher, Rev. Rebecca Mahr Cartus taught both English and Speech in the the public schools. She now works as an English language tutor for Global Language Training, a language service located in Flint, Michigan. Her community ministries include His Kids, an after-school children’s program; The Coraopolis Area Children’s Ministries, an inter-faith community children’s program; The Eighth Day Feast, a community dinner program and Drinks on the Deck, a neighborhood fellowship group. Currently, Rev. Becky and her ministry partner, Sister Barbara Finch (CSJ) are co-sponsoring an interfaith peace initiative in the Pittsburgh area. Becky lives with her husband, John, the owner of a language translation service called Equality Translation Services, in a usually empty nest in Sewickley, PA. They boast two daughters – Abigail, a Ph.D. student of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh and Rachel, a Doctor of Pharmacy student, also at the University of Pittsburgh.
Edith Corbin was born in Antioch, California. She graduated from Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, California, in 1955. Edith went on to attend Mills College in Oakland, California, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1959. She taught in a Montessori School in Pittsburg and later worked for the Antioch Recreation Department teaching preschool children. Edith currently lives in Antioch, California, and is married to Paul Corbin. They have 4 children and 12 grandchildren. She began volunteering with The Interfaith Peace Project in 2008. Edith established The Interfaith Peace Project’s “O Street Project,” a simple, outreach to persons who are the victims of homelessness by providing a sack lunch, a personal greeting, and support to people who live on the streets. She also hosts a series of Interfaith Connection programs on Sundays. Edith’s other charitable passion is the “Bless the Children” program, which she started. This program provides gift bags to children in foster care, Winter Nights Shelter, and other organizations that have needed them over the years.
George D’Angelo, Ph.D.
Nancy is Wife, Mother, Grandmother and Widow. She is “happy to be a believer in The Interfaith Peace Project under the very able direction of Fr. Tom Bonacci, C. P. and Rev. Andrea Goodman.” As a Native American, she has enjoyed their peaceful ways as a means to walk a more equal and balanced way among other faiths with more understanding and knowledge. “It seems to fit with my twenty-five years plus of practicing the healing arts. Blessings always on the continued good work of The Interfaith Peace Project.”
I am the daughter of an Army Air Force, WWII bronze star recipient, who was also an artist. Due to his horrific D Day experiences, my father suffered from unspoken PTSD resulting in alcoholism. He did not talk about his war experience. But we knew something was wrong. I escaped – got a degree in Art History, studied in Italy, got married, had two kids and got divorced.
In 2009 my dad died and my internal battles resurged. This time I faced them head on. I knew I wanted to do something to honor my dad’s service but also help Veterans with PTSD. It hit me that we do NOT offer many Veterans the care they deserve. I knew about the healing properties of art. Still working full time, I volunteered for several Veteran artists groups to share their art journeys in art shows.
This inspired to create my own non-profit online gallery where Veterans can share their stories and their art. Giving back to the Veteran community in this way has proven to be more fulfilling than I ever hoped and now it’s my life work. With my fine arts knowledge, and the help of veterans and friends thereof, I created the Veteran Art Institute. I am honored to share their work with the Interfaith Peace Project.
Nancy is Wife, Mother, Grandmother and Widow.
Sr. Barbara Finch
Sr. Barbara Finch graduated from Sewickley Valley School of Nursing and later Duquesne University achieving a bachelor of science degree in nursing. She presently is a nurse at the Allegheny County Jail Pittsburgh. Sr. Barbara has been a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden since 1979, and is on the Pastoral Council and Chair of the Mission Outreach of St. Mary of the Mount Parish Pittsburgh. In 2016, Sr. Barbara received awards from the Islamic Center Oakland Pennsylvania and the Turkish Cultural Center of Pittsburgh in recognition of her peace-building and justice work. She has been a member of the Thomas Merton Center; a Board of Director for the Partners in Progress Haiti and for Just Harvest; Co- Chair of the Pennsylvania Call to Action, and the Pittsburgh Area Pax Christi; Chair of The Association of Pittsburgh Priests; and the Greater Pittsburgh Interfaith Coalition; a member of the Black Political Empowerment Project, and the Coalition Against Violence; Co-Chair of the International Day of Peace Committee in Pittsburgh; and a USW Labor Member. Sr. Barbara also worked with Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P. at The Interfaith Center at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA. from 2001-2005.
Rabbi Dan Goldblatt
Rabbi Dan has been the spiritual leader of Beth Chaim for the past 16 years. He currently serves as Vice President of the National Board of Aleph: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal and is also President of OHALAH: The Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal where he served as Chairman of the Ethics Committee for seven years and was the chief author of the organization’s Ethics Policy. He has helped found a number of faith-based environmental and social justice organizations in the Bay Area and is active in interfaith work in the San Ramon Valley. While Rabbi Dan grew up in an orthodox home in Cleveland, Ohio, his route to the rabbinate has been quite “unorthodox.” He lived in Israel for more than five years after college where he worked as a tour guide, journalist for the Jerusalem Post, and directed the Tzavta Theater Club in Jerusalem. Upon returning to the United States, Rabbi Dan produced a weekly Jewish television show before he and his wife Yael moved out to the Bay Area in 1981. Rabbi Dan was an award winning writer/director/producer of documentary films, a number of which were aired on the Disney and Discovery Channels. He was a professional theater director and spent a year as a guest artist in the theater department at UC Berkeley. Prior to coming to Beth Chaim, Rabbi Dan served a number of synagogues from Vallejo to Davis as part-time spiritual leader. When he came to Beth Chaim in 1993, he discovered a warm, welcoming, young congregation that he could partner with in building a vibrant Jewish spiritual community. He has been married to Yael for 30 years and they are the proud parents of Jonathan and Ethan. To learn more about Rabbi Daniel Goldblatt: http://www.bethchaim.com/about-beth-chaim-topmenu-37/spiritual-leadership-topmenu-40
Phil Granchi lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills with his wife at a small retreat center and works at a local hospital. He appreciates exploring science and religion and how the two are intertwined. He has a sense that all of us- individually and collectively – are capable of creating a world that looks vastly different from the one in which we are currently living.
Sr. Trinita Laffan, PBVM
Sr. Trinita Laffan is a member of the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Portlaoise, Co. Laois, Ireland. She was born into a farming family with six siblings, so that enjoying and respecting mother earth was second nature to her. After 30 years as a teacher, she felt called by the Spirit to seek out people at the margins of society This led to working with ex-prison offenders and young at-risk men in a poor suburban area of Cork. It was both challenging and a huge learning experience. Then, after 12 years in Provincial Leadership, she took a sabbatical in 2015, focusing on world religions with an emphasis on interfaith and interspirituality. This time included 10 weeks in India, a semester at the School of Applied Theology in Berkeley, California, and considerable reading and reflection in these areas. Both enthused and energised by her experience, she joined the team in Mount St. Anne’s Retreat and Conference Centre in Portlaoise, Co. Laois, Ireland. She is excited by this newest ministerial opportunity and also by the fact that a genuine search for spirituality seems to be emerging among Irish people in place of the sometimes mindless inherited religious practice. Sr. Trinita: “It seems to me that we are trying to recover core human and religious values in a multicultural Ireland that is utterly changed from the one in which I grew up. To quote our poet William Butler Yeats: ‘All’s changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty is born.’ Perhaps the ‘terrible beauty’ is waiting to be born!”
Beth Maxwell Styles
Beth Maxwell Styles graduated from University of California, Irvine with a B.S. in Mathematics. She has worked in the tech industry for more than 30 years and loves helping her customers learn to use solutions that enable them to connect with others and make their lives better. Beth is the Board President of the Center for Spiritual Living, Livermore Valley in California where she continues to deepen her appreciation and respect for all beings and faith traditions. She lives with the love of her life Leah and their basset hound Happy and can often be found spending time with horses.
Channing enthusiastically looks forward to beginning her role on the Advisory Board of the Interfaith Peace Project. In 2017 Channing became a seminary student at the Chaplaincy Institute Interfaith Seminary and Community in Berkeley, CA and will be ordained into Interfaith Ministry in 2019. She also will begin the Spiritual Direction program at the Chaplaincy Institute in 2019 and be certified as an Interfaith Spiritual Director in 2020. In addition to expanded knowledge of religion, culture and spirituality, key values and emphasis include the importance of deep listening, compassion, honoring differences and the human spirit, being present, continuing spiritual study and practice, love and hearkening to the invisible as well as the innermost and outermost edges of being.
Lifetime professional experience began in 1968 with teaching young children in Palo Alto and culminated in 2015 with a long career in global corporate communications. Channing’s combined education and corporate careers have spanned two coasts and over four decades. In 2015 after retiring fully from the corporate world, a move from Silicon Valley to the Rossmoor community in Walnut Creek allowed the hearkening of spiritual yearnings where a call was felt and received, and a discernment towards the next path in interfaith studies, ministry and spiritual direction became visible. Bringing teaching, collaboration, creativity, facilitation, and deep heart abilities to interfaith ministry and spiritual direction is a blessing. Having written a series of children’s books on “Conversations in Nature” with the themes of interconnection, interdependence and gratitude, Channing is currently piloting these in schools throughout the east bay, looking towards one part of her ministry being to young children through literature and creative expression. Her spiritual journey continues towards “inter-spirituality” which began in childhood and will continue for the rest of life.
Currently in addition to attending The Chaplaincy Institute Interfaith Seminary and Community, Channing is a member of two Interfaith Councils – the Interfaith Council of Rossmoor (www.rossmoorinterfaith.com) and as an elected member of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County (www.interfaithccc.org). She serves and supports existing programs, and has also initiated and supports new programs to help expand interfaith dialogue, consciousness and relationship within these communities. Life passions include nature, beauty, social justice, working with children and youth, creative (multi-media) and writing expression (poetry and children’s books), and her relationship with her beloved adult children and grancchildren.
Joseph Mitchell, CP , President, Earth and Spirit Center, Louisville, KY
Joe Mitchell is a Catholic priest and member of the Passionist religious community. He studied theology at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and earned a graduate degree in Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness from the California Institute of Integral Studies. His ministry includes presenting retreats in Christian spirituality, meditation courses, religious environmental programs, as well as workshops in the new cosmology and the Great Work. To learn more about Joseph Mitchell and his work: http://www.earthandspiritcenter.org/
Very Rev. Donald S. Nesti, CSSp
Fr. Nesti is the Director of The Reverend Donald Nesti Center for Faith and Culture and is a professor in the Master of Arts in Faith and Culture Program at the University of St. Thomas Graduate School of Theology. In 2016, the Center for Faith and Culture was renamed in honor of its founder. Fr. Nesti founded the Center in 1994 in response to Pope John Paul II’s 1982 creation of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The Center seeks to understand and affect the relationship between the worldview of Catholic faith and culture. He has dedicated the role of faith in American culture and encouraged dialogue through ecumenical outreach. Fr. Nesti is a native of Pennsylvania and was ordained to the priesthood in 1963. He earned a licentiate and a doctorate in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He has served the Congregation of the Holy Ghost in many capacities. Fr. Nesti’s teaching assignments include Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio; and currently the University of St. Thomas School of Theology, Houston, Texas. In the administrative field, he served as Director of the Immaculate Heart Seminary, Bethel Park, Pennsylvania: Director of Planning, Research and Renewal, Congregation of the Holy Ghost USA – Eastern Province; President, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Provincial Superior, Congregation of the Holy Ghost USA – Western Province. Fr. Nesti has lectured extensively, authored books, published articles, conducted workshops and served as retreat master for clergy, laity and religious groups. To learn more about The Reverend Donald Nesti Center for Faith and Culture:
Renee Regacho-Anaclerio, Ed.D.
Renee has a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of the Pacific, Stockton, California. She recently retired after 30 years from a career in education, having served as a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and most recently as Deputy Superintendent for the Placer County Office of Education. Renee is a passionate advocate for equity and social justice. In the 1980s she worked in San Francisco with immigrant and refugee families from Southeast Asia and Central America. She also chaired the International Taskforce for the Plant Closure Project in Oakland, CA and organized a labor tour to Asia. In her career in education, she has worked to improve the quality and availability of comprehensive, high quality services for children and families in diverse and low-income communities. Currently Renee teaches an ethics course to administrative credential candidates and supervises Master’s students completing their theses. Her latest project is Prosper Placer, a program that links families currently living in poverty and volunteer “Allies” who provide friendship and social capital to help families meet their own goals and move out of poverty. Building relationships across class lines educates and liberates both our volunteers and low-income families. It challenges misconceptions, removes social and economic barriers, and provides confidence and dignity.
Renee is married to Vince and has two grown children, Joseph and Elisa. They have traveled extensively in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Her goal is to build interfaith and intercultural understanding in the foothill communities of Placer County. Renee serves on the Advisory Board for the Mercy Center in Auburn and is actively building interfaith connections within her community.
Walter Ruehlig graduated cum laude from the State University of New York School of Education with a B.A. in English. He received certification from Rutgers University as a Global Career Development Facilitator and is a master trainer of instructors. He is also certified as a meditation instructor. Walter taught English in Sultandag, Turkey for the Peace Corps and English as a Second Language for the Boston School Department and the City University of New York. Walter currently counsels people with disabilities seeking reentry into the workforce. He is the Vice President of the Antioch Unified School District. The founder of the Antioch Music Foundation, Walter is Antioch’s representative to the County Library Commission and a regular contributor to Delta Living magazine and three local newspapers. Walter is a devoted husband, father and grandfather. The recipient of the 2004 Martin Luther King Contra Costa County County Humanitarian of the Year award, Walter has organized several International Day of Peace celebrations and has served on the Interfaith Peace Project Advisory Board for six years.
Sr. Fatima Santiago, ICM
Born and raised in India, Sr. Fatima is a religious with the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and has a Masters of Social Work degree. She has worked with new immigrants and the homeless in Rio Grande Valley, Texas, since 1994, and since 2004, at Proyecto Desarrollo Humano (The Project for Human Development). In 2015, recognizing her gifts and training, Bishop Daniel E. Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, asked Sr. Fatima to create the Rio Grande Valley Interfaith Peace Project, in addition to her duties serving poor immigrants. Since then, she has assembled a core group of interfaith peace activists, shepherded them in the creation of numerous events which involve hundreds of like-minded people of faith, and taken the message of interfaith peace to thousands more through effective publicity. Sr. Fatima’s strength has been her ability to find and recruit people of faith from every tradition, listen to them and allow them to exercise their talents in the pursuit of understanding and acceptance. She makes all who know her feel like they are the most important people on earth. People who know Sr. Fatima see the face of God in her because she always sees the face of God in them. To learn more about Sr. Fatima’s work at Reo Grande Valley Interfaith Peace Project on Facebook: RGVInterfaith
Alisha Shaik is a proud and unapologetic Muslim-Indian-American. Her faith inspires her passion for social justice. Through her TEDx talk, “Living the Reality as an American Muslim”, and her work as an activist, she strives to raise awareness about islamophobia and immigrant rights. Currently, she is an organizer for National Women’s March Youth EMPOWER. She also serves as the Director of Public Relations of Las Positas Student Government. She is passionate about fighting against sexual violence in minority communities through educating and empowering women of color and youth representation.
Rev. Margaretmary Staller
Advisory Board Member
Dialogue with Interfaith Leaders
Fr. Gaspar Sunhwa, S.J.
Gaspar Sunhwa was born September 19, 1957 in Tambora, Tanzania. He attended elementary school there and high school in Arusha, Tanzania. He then attended the University of Dar es Salam in Tanzania. Upon graduation, Gaspar taught mathematics and geography in a high school in Mwanza, Tanzania. On August 15, 1984, Gaspar entered the East African Jesuits and was ordained a Catholic priest on June 10, 1995 in Chicago, IL. For the next five years, Fr. Gaspar was a parish priest in Dodoma, Tanzania. In July 2000, Fr. Gaspar entered the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, to study for his Doctorate, which he obtained in December 2003. From then to now, Fr. Gaspar has held many positions within the East African Jesuits and is presently Professor of Theology and Political Science at Hekima College in Nairobi, Kenya.
Randy is a resident of Concord California. He has participated in and helped facilitate local Interfaith programs. Randy participated in the Pilot Program for the United Religion’s Initiative prior to the drafting of the URI charter. He has a profound interest in exploring the contemplative practices among the different spiritual traditions. Randy has worked over 30 years in the social service field. His current challenge is trying to balance the contemplative life with an active call to respond to peace, economic and social justice issues in our world today.
John has had the honor of working with two mentors and teachers: Fr. Tom Bonacci of The Interfaith Peace Project and Fr. Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation. In addition, John had a memorable trip to Israel with an interfaith group of Christians and Jews led by a reformed Rabbi. Another important experience was taking a vision quest with Animas Valley Institute. Most recently, he attended the largest Parliament of the World Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2015.
Rajan Zed is a noted Hindu and interfaith leader; President of the Universal Society of Hinduism; Interfaith Ambassador of the Nevada Clergy Association; Spiritual Advisor to the National Association of Interchurch and Interfaith Families; and Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy. He is a religious statesman who has taken-up interfaith, religion, European Roma (Gypsies) and other causes all over the world. Rajan was invited by the President of the European Parliament in Brussels for a meeting to promote interfaith dialogue. He has delivered opening prayers in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives in Washington DC, at a number of State Senates and State Assemblies, and various County Commissions and City Councils all over the United States. Since 2011, Rajan has lead a weekly interfaith panel, “Faith Forum” in a Gannett publication, and has been a panelist for “On Faith”, a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post. In 2008, The National Association of Interchurch and Interfaith Families bestowed upon him the World Interfaith Leader Award, and in 2013, Rajan was selected “Global Person of the Year” by a newspaper of India. In light of his esteemed work, many United States cities have declared October 25 as “Rajan Zed Day”. To learn more about Rajan Zed: http://www.rajanzed.org