eight months later . . . first, some team kudos

Volume 4, Number 1
October 2015 - May 2016
The Franciscan Peace Connection (FPC) "communication hiatus" is now past tense. The silence was not
planned, nor was it expected. It just kept lingering. To those of you who inquired or wondered about when
the next newsletter would arrive: thank you!
John Quinata, a program facilitator and team member, published his first book last fall. The
WHAT About Faith, published by Crystal Pointe Media, Inc. in San Diego, has a foreward by
Sister LaVern Olberding and a testimonial by Christine Davis, a four-year team member. The
book is an easy read and comes highly recommended, especially as a morning
jump-start, a birthday or special occasion gift, a stocking stuffer, etc. Thumbs up, John!
Last fall Jorge Valerdi, a four-year team supporter and CASA (Court
Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer, came to class and announced
that he had just received a text from the Pope's private secretary. Really!
Cardinal Peitro Parolin has a personal friend in a local parish, Our Lady of
Guadalupe, where Jorge and his wife, Lucia, attend weekday
activities. The Cardinal is well informed about Jorge's proposal for a
more appropriate and economical way to accommodate the thousands
of undocumented minors from Mexico and Central America being
detained at the border. He is aware that a budget, property,
living structures, professional personnel, etc. are all on hold, waiting for
Jorge Valerdi gives a presentation at a
approval. The Cardinal's text boldly stated, "Time to act! Get on the
St. Martin of Tours parish Lenten supper.
Pope's agenda. He can help!" Jorge's proposal didn't make it onto the
Pope's agenda when he visited Mexico; however, he has since submitted it directly to Pope Francis, as well as
the apostolic nuncios in Mexico and Washington, D.C. He asks everyone for "prayer for our detained minors
who seek reunification with their parent(s) already living in the United States." Jorge, thanks for the heart
you have, the passion you generate and the voice you raise on behalf of these detained minors.
Helice "Sparky" Bridges, author, speaker, founder of Difference
Makers International, and honorary FPC team member, accomplished
one of her "bucket-list" wishes this spring. She and a host of Oceanside
School System and city personnel spent more than two years planning
a day-long training for elementary, middle, and high school students.
Sparky and a team of certified volunteers taught 750 Oceanside
students, representing all 23 schools, the program designed by Sparky
to build healthy children, families and communities by promoting
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dignity and respect. How to teach others a simple, yet seldom used way to "change lives in a minute or less"
was part of the program. The following week these same students honored 68,000 students, school staff,
parents, siblings, peers, and neighbors with "Who I Am Makes A Difference" Blue Ribbons. Check out this
multi-fantastic 2:52-minute video at http://bit.ly/1UkUuoJ.
Sparky and a 13-member steering committee are focusing on Youth Success Week Oceanside 2017: Jan.29-Feb. 4 and
also creating a national model for teaching students how to honor one another, maybe save lives, and, for sure,
change the course of their lives. Sparky says, "I am fired up! Oceanside is making it possible for me to accomplish two
of my biggest bucket-list wishes before I turn 75 next year." Sparky, you and your blue ribbons are changing the world.
The 6th Annual Sister-to-Sister Accessories
Party recruiters and solicitors earned huge
kudos last December. There was a record
response from women in transition (72); a
record number of volunteer elves (about 50)
who contributed to the miracles and the
magical energy for which the event is known;
and definitely more donations than ever
before. One newcomer's observation aptly
summarized the two-day event, "I am
overwhelmed by what I have witnessed here.
So many hearts and hands aligned for one
purpose: to transform the warehouse-look of
a small mountain of boxes and bags into an
elegant holiday department store ambiance
where shopping is about caring and
connecting rather than currency and credit.
What an uplifting experience."
The jewelry department during set-up. The "elves" are all FPC team members.
Shoppers and elves browse at the robe table,
while others check out scarves, hats, and belts in the corner.
Smiling elves pose for a picture, and are ready to serve.
View more photos of the Sister-to-Sister event on page 6
The FPC program team
members continually search
for new ways to raise
awareness about how much
violence the average person
contributes and tolerates
day-to-day. The team
believes that consciously
removing the "I" from
violence is a first step
toward building a Culture of
Peace. Following are three
diverse catalytic process
tools that assist individuals
in identifying their Violence
A basic Alternatives to Violence workshop where attendees participate in an
affirmation activity during a break. Sister LaVern Olberding is pictured second from the right.
a - Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP)
The Alternatives to Violence Project is a grassroots,
volunteer program dedicated to reducing violence in
our lives, homes, schools, prisons, streets, and
society. AVP provides a space for participants to
transform conflict into win-win outcomes.
No one loses; each opinion is valued by the group.
Conflict is a segue to greater understanding and an
opportunity to begin or deepen a relationship. AVP
workshops are held in classrooms, community
centers, detention facilities, and prisons. (Inmates
and former inmates make up a large percentage of
certified AVP facilitators. Numerous former inmates
were serving life sentences without parole before
they began to participate in AVP workshops.)
Carroll Boone, an FPC team member and program
facilitator, is a certified AVP facilitator who
co-coordinates the San Diego area Community AVP
workshops and serves on Inside-Prison AVP teams.
Sister LaVern Olberding will be two thirds of the way
toward AVP certification by mid-June. Several other
team members plan to begin the process during the
The first FPC event in 2016 was a New Beginnings
Retreat. Carroll and Sister LaVern co-facilitated the
day using the AVP format. Participants were amazed
at how much personal work they accomplished in one
six-hour process. A common evaluation statement
read "When's the next one of these? Count me in!"
b - Restorative Justice/Restorative Practices (RJ/RP)
California leaders offer strong endorsements for the
effectiveness of RJ/RP. Financial and behavioral
success statistics strongly favor the restorative
process over detention, incarceration, and the court
system. Bullying, general crime, violent outbursts,
injuries, and deaths all decrease remarkably where
these practices are implemented. San Diego is
nationally renowned as a model for collaborative RJ/
RP among its civic, educational, judicial, legal, law
enforcement, probation, and parole departments.
FPC team members attended the RJ/RP Summit last
fall and have taken diocesan and/or civic trainings to
be certified to work in schools and the community.
They see the value of restorative justice principles
and adapt them in their homes and neighborhoods.
They use dialogue circles (everyone sits in a circle and
has the opportunity to comment and share thoughts,
affirming that everyone is valued and important) in
their classrooms and elsewhere. And, the most
articulate advocates for RJ/RP are the youth and
young adults who now enjoy emancipation from
active addiction, criminal behaviors, drug trafficking,
gang lifestyle, ghetto mentality, etc. specifically
because of their involvement in RJ/RP. Catch some
personal testimonies: www.cacatholic.org/
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c - A Course In Miracles (ACIM)
The core group members who participate in the
afternoon and evening ACIM sessions don't change.
Others attend when they can. The regulars find the
course to be their most effective tool for recognizing
personal violence and
acquiring new
"thought-tools" for dealing
with or eliminating it. Each
session reveals new light
and raises the bar just a
tad. It's common to hear
something like, "Look how much we've
already learned and changed . . . and we aren't even a
quarter of the way through the book." Newcomers
and returnees are always welcome and invited to slip
THE "I's"
in whenever their schedules allow. The format is such
that one reaps new insights with or without
The evening group decided to make a statement
during this slanderous
election year by
disseminating some of
its wisdom in a bumper
sticker (left).
Do you want to help
spread the wisdom?
Bumper stickers are available in small and large
quantities. Donations are appreciated. Contact Sister
LaVern at [email protected]
The second leg of the FPC Programming Tripod is
the interfaith component. The Bi-monthly Interfaith
Dialogue and Dessert (BIDD) gatherings have
grown. Attendees now include Baha'is, Buddhists,
Catholics, Jews, Methodists, Mormans and
Muslims. The June gathering will focus on how faith San Diego, California's oldest
Buddhist Temple was the site of
traditions understand fear. Other ecumenical and
the BIDD April meeting
interfaith events are also increasing the "I's"
View another photo of a BIDD
and expanding the FPC calendar of events.
gathering on page 6
All Faiths Labyrinth Walks - One of the FPC's newest
has been a
with the All
Faiths Center
in Poway.
Steve and
Sister LaVern and Abigail Albert walk the
Abigail Albert, labyrinth, while Western Region Associate
Ellen Flores and friend Lucia Valerdi follow.
retired New
Thought ministers, are tireless in their seed-planting
efforts in myriad arenas. Western Associate Ellen
Flores, Lucia Valerdi, and Sister LaVern participated
in the World Labyrinth Day Walk As One At One
event held at the Alberts' home, (where a back yard
labyrinth is available to the public around-the-clock.)
The Alberts sponsored a May 28 Interfaith Prayers
For Peace Walk and they are having a Summer
Solstice-Medicine Wheel Observance from 2-5 on
June 25. RSVP: [email protected]
(Bring a drum if you have one.)
POway INterfaith Team-POINT offers a very
diversified calendar of interfaith events sponsored by
a smorgasboard of faith traditions in North San Diego.
These educational, religious, social and spiritual
opportunities give FPC members multiple venues for
road trip/carpool considerations.
(Yes! The Alberts are founding members of POINT.)
North American Interfaith Network-NAIN is holding
its 27th Conference in Guadalajara in August. Since
next year's site is San Diego, FPC members are getting
involved in the grassroots planning for this major
undertaking. The Planning Team is richly diverse in
expertise, religious beliefs, and snack specialties. The
second snack-luck lunch meeting was be held June 4.
Consider joining this potpourri of delightful people
and help give life to the 28th North American
Interfaith Conference, which will be held at University
of California, San Diego (UCSD) Price Center Aug. 610, 2017.
San Diego Regional Interfaith Collaborative-SDRIC
is an action-oriented group of interfaith visionaries
who see the importance of "doing good together." It
is about building bridges and forming a
communication network that empowers
collaborative outreach during discriminatory
affronts, natural disasters and whatever else
enhances or harms the common good. SDRIC has
recently sponsored two lunch meetings with 100plus attendees from more than 15 different religious
entites. FPC folks are part of the planning team for
the third lunch meeting scheduled later this year.
San Diego Women in Ministry -The SWiM group
meets for lunch and discussion every five-six weeks.
Approximately 30-35 woman from about 10
interfaith traditions take turns hosting and choosing
the topic. The FPC is grateful for a sisterhood that is
not only a support system, but also a channel for
education, broader networking, public relation
extentions, and a safe place to vent and be
"If we have no peace, it is because we have
forgotten that we belong to each other."
― Mother Teresa
The third leg in the programming tripod is new Outreach Ministry. Heeding
the example and verbal nudges of Pope Francis, FPC team members network
when works of mercy are already happening and initiate new venues where
they are needed.
a - La Mesa First United Methodist (LMFUM)
Attendees at the most recent Bi-monthly Interfaith
Dialogue and Dessert, hosted by LMFUM, learned
from Pastor Elbert Kim that the mission of the
Methodist tradition is primarily outreach. He and
his people are diligent about serving the needs of La
Mesa's marginalized. The FPC and St. Martin of
Tours have joined them in co-sponsoring a
event. Guests can also get a hair cut, a blood
pressure reading, and contact information regarding
other pertinent needs. It is becoming a
comfortable, safe place for regulars to come
and relax from 10:30- to noon on Saturday
LMFUM is sponsoring a unique fund-raiser on
Saturday, June 11, 6 - 8 p.m. The Art Gala is
an outreach to encourage local artists, artisans,
photographers, etc., to share their work and
simultaneously support outreach ministries. FPC
members are selling tickets ($10), seeking donations
for the food committee, and soliciting "treasures."
These art, artifact, jewelry, painting, photography
"treasures" are for sale. Hors d'oeuvres,
background music and a silent auction will
complete the ambiance. Contact Sister LaVern for
tickets and more details at 619-890-9846.
b - Summer Lunch Program The FPC will be
partnering with other interfaith congregations to
sponsor the 4th Annual Summer Lunch opportunity.
This seven-week event has three forms of outreach:
it feeds children (and their parents/grandparents);
it also provides opportunities for diverse
relationship building among the volunteers and
those being served; and this year, thanks to a new
food service provider, it will also provide training
and work experience for youth and young adults
who are choosing this type of work-release in lieu
of, or after, incarceration.
c - Donation Warehouse-Circle of Gift Sojourner
Julie Fawley and her
"elves" are getting
more and more
notoriety for keeping
recyclables out
of landfills . . . doors,
sinks, cabinets,
countertops, vanities,
Sojourner Julie Fawley adds
fans, lighting,
one last piece of wood to the
left-over construction load of materials that she has
diverted from the landfill.
materials, concrete
blocks, rocks, etc.
Julie and her team retrieve, store and then
re-circulate these items to persons with limited
income. The Circle keeps expanding and so do the
smiles on the faces of recipients.
June has been designated as the month to ponder
and actively respond to the consequences of
prioritizing greed over public safety.
March 3 Sister LaVern and Sojourner Julie Fawley
were present for the official screening of Making a
Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA. This powerful,
stat-staggering documentary tells the stories of
how guns, and the billions made off of them, affect
the lives of everyday Americans. It features
personal stories from people across the country
who have been affected by gun violence, including
survivors and victims' families. The film exposes how the powerful gun companies and the NRA are resisting
responsible legislation for the sake of profit - and thereby putting people in danger. The film looks into gun
tragedies that include unintentional shootings, domestic violence, suicides, mass shootings and trafficking and what we can do to put an end to this profit-driven crisis. Through this film and campaign, Brave New
Films will work with partners to fight for a country where public safety is more valued than profit.
The movie was released in May and the FPC hosted its first showings on May 21 and June 7 at La Mesa First
United Methodist. Two Pax Christi showings are planned in Solana Beach on June 13 and July 11. Others are
still pending. Contact Sister LaVern at 619-890-9846 for more details.
FPC team members, in tandem with the Interfaith Council-La Mesa, Pax Christi, and Poway All
Faith Center, are sculpting educational, consciousness-raising, and action-driven opportunities
specifically for September 21, as well as for the Week of Action: September 18 - 25, and
beyond. More details to follow in the next newsletter.
More photos of the Sister-to-Sister Event from page 2
Guests at the Sister-to-Sister
accessories party take a break from
shopping to enjoy refreshments.
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John Quinata attended the
Sister-to-Sister event to sign his
book for those who ordered one.
He poses for a photo with Sister
LaVern Olberding and Western
Associate Ellen Flores.
BIDD gathering photo from page 4
Attendees join in the question-and-answer
session held following Buddhist monk Letske
Tsomo's April presentation.
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