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Fall Programs – 2016

The Life and Spiritual Vision of Francis of Assisi

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Wayne Simsic, M.A.

Six Mondays,  October 3, 2016 to November 7, 2016 | 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. | $90

The Plymouth Church | 2860 Coventry Road | Shaker Heights | 44120

 The way to uncover Franciscan spirituality is to explore its development in the life of St. Francis where we find his dream unfolding in stages.  This course, then, will concentrate on the main events in Francis’ life as the seedbed for his vision of simplicity, poverty, prayer, peace, joy and reverence for creation.  (Participants will need the text, God’s Fool: The Life and Times of Francis of Assisi by Julien Green) 

Wayne Simsic, M.A., received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to study Franciscan spirituality in Italy. He leads seminars and directs retreats on Franciscan spirituality, and has published Living the Wisdom of St. Francis.



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Ani Palmo Rybicki

A One-Day Workshop, Saturday, October 15, 2016 | 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. | $50 plus $10 for Lunch (or bring your own)

University Circle United Methodist Church | 1919 E. 107th Street | Cleveland | 44106

Join Buddhist nun and local Clevelander, Ani Palmo Rybicki for a day-long seminar exploring the very first teaching of the Buddha “The Four Noble Truths.” Applicable to Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, these teachings outline the nature of our dissatisfaction, the mistakes we make when trying to achieve happiness, and how to correct them. Through discussion and meditation, we will examine how we are looking for happiness in all the wrong places and how we can change. Meditation instruction included.

Ani Palmo Rybicki, a native Clevelander, has been a practicing Buddhist since 1988 and an ordained nun since 1994. She is the Director of Songtsen Gampo Buddhist Center of Cleveland ( and offers public talks and classes in Buddhism and Meditation at the Center and throughout the Greater Cleveland Area.  She recently completed a year-long soliLtary and silent retreat.



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Rabbi Roger Klein, Ph.D. and Father George Smiga, STD

A One-Day Workshop, Tuesday, November 22, 2016 | 7 to 9 p.m. | $25

Church of the Gesu | McAuley Hall | 2470 Miramar Boulevard | University Heights  | 44118  


Pope Francis has issued an encyclical on the crucial issues of the environment for our times. This program will attempt to identify some of the biblical and theological implications of Francis’ thought from both Jewish and Catholic perspectives. It will discuss how the Pope has drawn upon previous religious thinking and has in some ways moved beyond it.  This program is a further consideration of the previous one offered at John Carroll University in November, 2015.

Rabbi Roger Klein, Ph.D. is the Associate Rabbi at The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood.  He is also Assistant Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at Case Western Reserve University and Adjunct Professor of Jewish Studies at the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies.  Rabbi Klein received his Ph.D. from The University of Chicago in Philosophy. He is a sought-after lecturer and has often given pre-concert lectures for The Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Chamber Music Society and CIM.  He has written articles, reviews and book chapters.

Rev. George Smiga, STD, received his doctorate from the Gregorian University in Rome and teaches as part of the scripture department of St. Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Wickliffe. He is the author of Pain and Polemic: Anti-Judaism in the Christian Gospels and has recently published The Gospel of John Set Free: Preaching Without Anti-Judaism. He is a priest and the pastor of St. Noel Parish in Willoughby Hills.  He writes regularly about faith issues at:



Rev. Laury Larson, Discussion Facilitator

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Tuesday | September 20, 2016 | 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. | $15

The Plymouth Church | 2860 Coventry Road | Shaker Heights | 44120

The next CEIRS READS book selection is: Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence (2015), In this book, global religious leader and award winning author Rabbi Jonathan Sacks considers a subject that believers of all faiths have difficulty explaining: Why do so many insist on advancing their belief in God as a justification for violence? Though religion itself doesn’t necessarily cause the problem of violence, theology must play a part if it is to be confronted and solved. First-time participants welcome!

Rev. Laury Larson is a retired Presbyterian Church (USA) minister and long-time Trustee of the Cleveland Ecumenical Institute. Borrow the book from the Library or order the text online. The discussion will assume you have already read the text.