I have been a member of the Board of Directors of The Interfaith Peace Project since 2008 and was elected President of the Board in 2022. I am the docent for the Interfaith Peace Center and Library in Antioch, CA. “We are what you need us to be” is the philosophy that welcomes everyone who visits the Center.
It is my blessing to be called mother, Grandmother, and Great Grandmother. I hold a Master’s in Pastoral Ministry and Certification as a Spiritual Director. My work has included Parish Leadership, Children’s Education, Retreat Work, and Consulting.
“Early in my involvement with The Interfaith Peace Project, the Board members were asked, “Do you want your work to be part of The Interfaith Peace Project, and do you want The Interfaith Peace Project to be part of your work?” My answer in 2007 was “Yes.” All these years later, The Interfaith Peace Project has become an integral part of my life, and this is my great honor and privilege.
I have been the Treasurer of The Interfaith Peace Project since its inception in 2006. I volunteer most of my time in Interfaith Ministry to the incarcerated, the houseless, the hungry, and the poor. Since 1992, I have been a detention minister, most recently at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, CA. I am a retired Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Isidore’s Catholic Church in Danville, CA. I was the former Vice-President of Operations of Bay Area Rentals and held various management and bookkeeping positions. I love to travel around the World!
I serve as the Secretary of the Board of Directors. I graduated from Urbandale High School in Urbandale, Iowa, in 1969 and Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1974. I worked for 38 years as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist, retiring in 2012 as the Clinical Lab Manager of Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez, California. I became involved in Interfaith work after attending The Interfaith Peace Project’s September 21, 2009, celebration of the International Day of Peace at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church. It was there I met people of other faiths one on one. I was able to hear their personal faith stories and realize their stories were as valid as my own. I began to volunteer at the Interfaith Peace Project in 2009 and eventually took over the responsibility of keeping the website up to date and sending out our emails to over 700 recipients. I was elected to the Board of Directors and Secretary of the Board in 2022.
Rev. Patrick Davis
I am a retired United Methodist Pastor after serving 30 years in the United Methodist Church in the North Alabama, Tennessee, and California Nevada Conferences. I am the Founder and Executive Director of the Bay Area Alliance for Youth and Family Services, Inc., a short-term residential therapeutic program providing mental health and residential services to youth in need of out-of-home care.
I received Ordination from the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in Sacramento, California. I hold a Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia. I am the author of "Creating Caring Communities," an ecumenical educational program sponsored by the California Council of Churches.
In addition to pastoral training, I have had extensive experience working with ecumenical and interfaith agencies as a Christian Educator with a focus on faith development and youth ministry. As a professional and as a volunteer, I serve with other professionals on the South Valley Interfaith Clergy Association and the Interfaith CommUNITY Council of Santa Clara, where I have provided innovative training structures for the California Department of Social Services for Administrators seeking State Certification as Administrators in Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Programs in California. I was one of the founding organizers of the South County Interfaith Clergy Association, known for its active leadership for interfaith activities and social justice.
I can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have worked as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and in other roles in the field of mental health for over 20 years. In 2019 I received a DMin in order to support and facilitate retreat work with my husband, Phil. Currently, I oversee operations of Nautilus Book Awards, which recognizes and honors books that contribute to the greater good of humanity and the planet. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and can frequently be found reading books or going for a run outside.
Inspired by those seeking to create peace, I began volunteering with the Interfaith Peace Project in January 2016, joined their Board of Directors, and in 2017 became the Director of one of the project’s newest centers. I was ordained as an Interfaith Chaplain at the Chaplaincy Institute in March 2018, Interfaith Spiritual Director in September 2020 and am currently enrolled in a dual Master’s Degree Program at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. I identify my spirituality as “spiritual, not religious”.
I am passionate about my study of traditional Hawaiian dance, Hawaiian culture and Indigenous spirituality. I have experience as a hospice volunteer and as an advocate for marginalized people including youth at risk, the elderly and their caregivers. I live in Cloverdale, California with my wife, Beth, and our Bassett Hounds, Happy and Exuberant.
Rev. Andrea Goodman
Andrea was the Co-founder and President of the Board of Directors of The Interfaith Peace Project. Andrea was ordained an Interfaith Minister in 2009 by the Interfaith Chaplaincy Institute and was an interfaith spiritual director from 2002 until her death in 2021. Andrea was a volunteer hospital chaplain and led Sacred Visits for The Interfaith Peace Project. She was a seasoned human resource and diversity professional. You will encounter her wit, wisdom and charm throughout this site.
Lonnie Bristow, M.D.
Lonnie joined the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Peace Project in 2010 leading The Peace Pole Initiative. The Peace Pole Project was founded in 1955 by Masahisa Goi in Japan after the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima. The Interfaith Peace Project planted our first Peace Pole on September 21, 2009, and has continued promoting The Peace Pole Project in homes and communities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Lonnie retired from the Board in 2017 and was appointed Board Member Emeritus.
A Message from the founder
When I think of The Interfaith Peace Project, I experience deep gratitude. The Project was born out of heartbreak, loss, and upset. We challenged ourselves not to be overwhelmed by the troubles and upsets of the day. We would respond to people rather than react to issues. Our homes, Centers, and places of gathering and worship would become locations for the practice of Interfaith Spirituality and Compassion. We would honor each and every person of any or no persuasion, realizing the uniqueness of every person. We do this together.
Interfaith spirituality has been a major part of my life. I grew up in a diverse neighborhood of Churches, Synagogues, and various other worship sites. Of course, I was not aware of the richness of that experience until I met Fr. Thomas M. Berry, C.P. in the late 1960’s. I joined the Passionist Religious Order and was deeply influenced by the work and vision of Fr. Tom. Over the years, my life with the Passionist Community opened my heart to those who suffer from poverty and injustice. The Interfaith Peace Project continues to be blessed by the wisdom of those often neglected, ignored, or dismissed.
Sr. Grace Ann Geibel, RSM (+December 24, 2014) was a significant inspiration in developing The Interfaith Peace Project. Her generous heart and inspiring wisdom continue to bless us to this day. The dedication and hard work of Sr. Barbara Finch, CSJ, gave us a solid social justice foundation. The poor and broken of society have mentored our work from the beginning. We will be forever grateful to the Rev. Andrea J. Goodman (+December 31, 2021) and Patricia T. Black, the co-founders of The Interfaith Peace Project, as well as the Members of the Board who have guided this work over the years.
Please visit the “Legacy Continues” tab to see how you might continue the Legacy of The Interfaith Peace Project in your daily life. This site is dedicated to you with gratitude and love.
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
The Interfaith Peace Project
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
THE ADVISORY BOARD
Advisory Board members influence the work and outreach of The Interfaith Peace Project in several ways:
Sharing their wisdom and outreach.
Suggesting how The Interfaith Peace Project might become more sensitive and informed about the issues of the day concerning human rights.
Engaging in personal conversations with the members of the Board, the Executive Director, and one another.
Informing us of interfaith events in their area and how we might participate.
Providing feedback and reviews of the work, outreach, papers, and programs of The Interfaith Peace Project.
The list below is a partial list of those who have blessed us over the years and those who continue to advise us in the pursuit of interfaith love, peace, justice, and understanding.
Native to the Bay Area, Tricia Boyle works with people from all backgrounds and traditions, officiating and creating rituals. From weddings and funerals to baby naming ceremonies, coming-of-age rituals, and numerous rites of passage, Tricia works with each individual/couple/family/group to create individualized traditions that are special, unique, and personalized while celebrating the humanity and divinity that connects us all.
Having grown up in the Catholic social justice movement, Tricia spent much of her time volunteering, doing retreat work, and participating in her faith community. As she continued her exploration and evolution as a woman of faith, she released the formal boundaries of a traditional religious upbringing for the more inclusive and progressive spirituality of interfaith and inter-spiritual work. Tricia loves bringing in customs and rites from various spiritual and religious traditions to enhance and broaden the special ceremonies for the folks she serves.
In addition to officiating and creating rituals, Tricia runs Spreading Christmas Cheer, a grassroots project that raises money and distributes gifts to those in need during the holidays. She also utilizes her creativity as a floral designer, hairstylist, and makeup artist.
Officiant and Ritual Creator
Rev. Rebecca Mahr Cartus, FCM
The Reverend Rebecca Mahr Cartus (FCM) is a clergywoman 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).
Edith Corbin was born in Antioch, California. She graduated from Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, California, in 1955. Edith attended Mills College in Oakland, California, receiving 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 lives in Antioch, California, and is married to Paul Corbin. They have four 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 homeless victims 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.
George D’Angelo volunteered for the Air Force after graduating from Duquesne University in 1965. George remained in the Air Force and rose to the rank of colonel before retiring in 1990. He served as a special advisor to the United Nations in conflict prevention, humanitarian affairs, and peacekeeping operations.
He received a Ph.D. in conflict prevention, coordinated the UN’s International Day of Peace, and founded the International Day of Peace Vigil. George desired to begin a U.S. Department of Peace.
Sr. Barbara Finch, CSJ, and Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P. collaborated with George at the Interfaith Center of Carlow University. He was instrumental in developing the philosophy of the Interfaith Peace Project.
Nancy is Wife, Mother, Grandmother, and Widow. She is “happy to believe 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 of walking a more equal and balanced path among other faiths with more understanding and knowledge. “It fits with my twenty-five years 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, married, had two kids, and 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 and 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 artist’s groups to share their art journeys in art shows.
This inspired me to create my non-profit online gallery where Veterans can share their stories and 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. I created the Veteran Art Institute with my fine arts knowledge and the help of veterans and friends. I am honored to share their work with the Interfaith Peace Project.
Sr. Barbara Finch, CSJ
Sr. Barbara Finch graduated from Sewickley Valley School of Nursing and later Duquesne University, achieving a bachelor of science degree in nursing. She served as a nurse at the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh, PA. Sr. Barbara has been a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden since 1979 and served 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. She currently serves as the vice president of the Association of Pittsburgh Priests as she continues her social justice work and advocacy.
Rabbi Dan Goldblatt
Rabbi Dan has been the spiritual leader of Beth Chaim for the past 16 years. He is Vice President of the National Board of Aleph: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. He is also President of OHALAH: The Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal. 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 several 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 over five years after college, working as a tour guide and journalist for the Jerusalem Post and directing 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, several aired on the Disney and Discovery Channels. He was a professional theater director and spent a year as a guest artist at UC Berkeley’s theater department. Before coming to Beth Chaim, Rabbi Dan served several synagogues from Vallejo to Davis as a 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.
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 – can create a world that looks vastly different from the one we live in.
Suzanne is an interfaith seeker. Having been raised as a Christian, she explored many other spiritual paths and realized that most, if not all, paths lead to peace, love, service, justice, and compassion.
Through the joys and challenges of being a mother and grandmother, she is constantly aware of new opportunities to grow into who she truly is. As a former musician, weaver, system engineer, meditation practitioner, teacher, and spiritual director, she describes her current ministry as a listener and facilitator.
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 enjoying and respecting mother earth was second nature. 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 a 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 she included ten 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 energized 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 the fact that a simple search for spirituality seems to be emerging among Irish people in place of the sometimes mindless inherited religious practice. Sr. Trinita: “It seems we are trying to recover core human and religious values in a multicultural Ireland that is utterly changed from where 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 the University of California, Irvine, with a B.S. in Mathematics. She has worked in the tech industry for over 30 years and loves helping her customers learn to use solutions to connect with others and improve their lives. 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.
Rev. Channing Miller
Channing began her role on the Advisory Board of the Interfaith Peace Project in 2020 after being ordained as an Interfaith Minister by The Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley, CA. She went on to enter the Spiritual Direction certificate program at the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction and completed the program in August 2022. Channing is both an Interfaith Minister and a Spiritual Director, functioning as the (Interim) President of the Interfaith Council of Rossmoor and meeting with Spiritual Direction clients. She has initiated a special program in Rossmoor (an aging community of 10,000 people) called “Sacred Visits.” There is always a need in this senior community when someone has health issues, is shut in, or has no family – Channing will arrange a visit to meet the client in their home. Recently I visited a husband and wife in their 80s, where the wife had a heart attack, and the husband was recovering from Covid. Fundamental 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 and the innermost outermost edges of being.
Michael Minton began his Intra-faith journey in his young 20s when he met a family of Catholics, people that his Fundamentalist Southern Baptist background labeled “the other.” In his lived experience of faith with them, he realized that just because he believed it, it wasn’t necessarily true; a spiritual life demands questioning while allowing for mistakes, and staying close to the ones Jesus called the “least of these” is a good path.
He enjoys meeting people and learning about their faith. Currently, he is drawn to the “meeting” of Franciscan Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.
Professionally, Michael works to help people recognize the full humanity of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He also provides spiritual direction.
Joseph Mitchell, CP
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, and workshops in the new cosmology and the Great Work. Joe is the President of the Earth and Spirit Center in Louisville, KY. To learn more about Joseph Mitchell and his work: http://www.earthandspiritcenter.org/
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 after 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.
Karen J. Oliver
Karen is a Catholic dedicated to the following of Jesus in her uncompromising love and dedication to those struggling with poverty and houselessness. She is a child of the 60s, unafraid to witness to what is right and just. Karen is deeply influenced by the leadership of John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps, and the injury that was Viet Nam. Karen remembers the work and example of Bobby Kennedy in the cause of justice and his work influencing Earth Day. Finally, Karen’s coping with family mental health issues has opened her heart to many suffering people. Her humor and playfulness are delightful. Karen and Edith Corbin established the “O” Street Project and its outreach and concern for those on the streets. She lovingly states, “I continue to bring comfort to our brothers and sisters living in the open among us.”
Abdul Rahman and the Interfaith Peace Project bonded when the Islamic Center of the East Bay, Antioch, CA, was devastated by a deliberately set fire in August 2007. He was instrumental in bringing together people from diverse faith traditions to stand in solidarity with the Muslim Community. Abdul participated and encouraged interfaith love and understanding as he provided practical guidance and wisdom for the Interfaith Peace Project. His good humor, gentle presence, and social and political leadership proved to be a blessing for all.
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 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.
Paul Riofski lives in Antioch with his life partner (spouse) of 31 years. He is Co-Chair of Dignity/San Francisco, a lay-led faith community, and the local chapter of Dignity/USA, an organization that works for respect and justice for people of all sexual orientations, genders, and gender identities—especially gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual and intersex persons—in the Catholic Church and the world through education, advocacy, and support. Paul earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 1978 from the College of Notre Dame (now Notre Dame de Namur University) in Belmont, CA, after which he received both the Primary and Advanced graduate diplomas of the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) from the Washington Montessori Institute in Washington, DC in 1979 and 1981, respectively. In the early 2000s, Paul engaged in graduate studies in the Pastoral Ministry Master’s program at Holy Names University, where he met June Kirk. Through his involvement in Saint Ignatius of Antioch, he also began to work with Fr. Tom Bonacci in interfaith outreach and ministry to marginalized communities at this time.
Paul spent over 27 years in management staff positions in research administration at the University of California, first at the UCSF Health Sciences campus and then at UC Berkeley, from which he retired in January 2013. During his tenure there, he specialized in working with faculty from diverse fields to secure and oversee funding for large-scale interdisciplinary graduate programs and research centers. He was also a leader in several UC campus and systemwide staff organizations, working diligently to improve campus culture, with a particular focus on the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion, working with and receiving training from upper-level management in support of these endeavors.
For the past fifty years, Paul has also been active as a pastoral musician, faith formation leader, and liturgist in a variety of Catholic and ecumenical/interfaith contexts, including serving as the Director of these ministries at Saint John of God Catholic Church in San Francisco since 2000. He has also served in a number of leadership roles in the Cursillo movement, aimed at developing lay Christians to be leaders in their respective environments, with personal spiritual development sustained in small groups of friends meeting regularly for mutual support. Paul has also been active in the alcoholism recovery community for more than 35 years. He defines his ministry as one of accompaniment (both musical and interpersonal) and considers it a great honor to have been invited to serve on IPP’s advisory board.
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 since 2010.
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 Master of Social Work degree. She has worked with new immigrants and people experiencing homelessness 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 to pursue 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. She is an organizer for the 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
Margaretmary Staller is an Episcopal Minister ordained in 1985 and is an Associate of All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville, Maryland. She has served as Pastoral Associate at several local churches and as a Hospice Chaplain for twenty-five years. Margaretmary provides Transition Support and support in Anticipatory Grief and Bereavement for individuals. She is a Small Group Leader and Spiritual Director.
Margaretmary assisted in the development of the Dialogue with Interfaith Friends Program for the Interfaith Peace Project. She was more than instrumental in introducing Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P., to the Interfaith Community of Northern California.
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 in Chicago, IL, on June 10, 1995. Fr. Gaspar was a parish priest in Dodoma, Tanzania, for the next five years. 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. He is presently a 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 Religions Initiative prior to the drafting of the URI charter. He is profoundly interested in exploring contemplative practices among the different spiritual traditions. Randy has worked for over 30 years in the social service field. His current challenge is balancing the contemplative life with an active call to respond to peace, economic, and social justice issues in our world today.
John has worked 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 essential 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.
I was born on Long Island, New York, into a very Italian family and community in Huntington Station. I was one of seven children. Our home was filled with music, art, and literature. As a young child, I was blessed to have a playful and unusually conscious relationship with God. We had long conversations under trees, in the attic, looking out over the neighborhood, on bike rides, or sitting on the roof in the evening. I am clear that my God called me to silence even then and often. Following this call, I backpacked and packed the Sierra Nevada Mountains in early adulthood. I have a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science, a master’s degree in counseling psychology, and multiple additional certifications. I am a licensed LMFT: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. In my profession, I assist others in re-awakening their mind, body, emotion, and soul connection. We explore the power of choice and freedom, pain and regret, and how one can choose one’s life footprint on Earth and in the heavens. And along the way, I have served with diverse groups/committees as part of enacting my spiritual journey.
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 worldwide. The President of the European Parliament invited Rajan to 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 several State Senates and State Assemblies, and various County Commissions and City Councils all over the United States. Since 2011, Rajan has led a weekly interfaith panel, “Faith Forum,” in a Gannett publication. He 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. In 2013 Rajan was selected “Global Person of the Year” by a newspaper in India. In light of his esteemed work, many United States cities have declared October 25 as “Rajan Zed Day.”
Lauren has been privileged to be the daughter of loving parents, the wife of a loving husband, and the mom of four sons. Her story is still in the making with the addition of three granddaughters and their mom. She has learned the most valuable lessons of life from those whom she holds most dear.
Her advocacy work has given her the opportunity to work on committees that formulated federal legislation that ensconced into law protection for free appropriate education for all children. Today, she seeks to create “Housing That Heals” as an essential component of the Continuum of Care in Mental Health.
Lauren is fortunate to have been a member of the Interfaith Peace Project since 2008.