07 Feb 2023
Franciscan Peace Center Debuts New Podcast

The Franciscan Peace Center is proud to announce its new podcast, The “Center.” Published on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month, the podcast is focused on the mission of the Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa to promote peace and active nonviolence within local, national, and global communities.


Host Marsha Thrall is joined by special guests in each episode to explore how active nonviolence and peacemaking are necessary and transformative practices within everyday life.


Thrall says, “Formulating and producing this podcast has been exciting. Active nonviolence is the most effective method of creating systemic change and bringing us all into right relationship with each other and with the Earth. There are so many topics we look forward to learning about and sharing in the coming weeks.”


The first two episodes of the podcast, which launched last month, focused on the experiences and motivations that planted the seeds of the idea that started as the “Center;” a metaphorical “place” that sprouted from the experiences of Sisters Jan Cebula, LaVern Olberding, and Maria Zeimen following their participation in the Desert Experience Faith and Resistance retreat, held in Nevada, in 1991. While the focus was on nuclear disarmament, the sisters who participated in this retreat discovered early within their contemplation, resistance, and activism that the social violence that incubated nuclear weapons and warfare was also the root cause of most forms of social violence. When interviewed for an August 1991 article in the diocesan community, the sisters are quoted as saying:

“Focus is on…building a Church that will resist evils directly and indirectly associated with nuclear weapons. This includes militarism and variations of violence that include sexism, racism, patriarchy, the wasting of the environment and other species, and neglect of the poor.”

Since this initial seed for the “Center” was planted in 1991, it has sprouted and grown from a metaphorical place in quotation marks to the Franciscan Peace Center, a space where a staff of three lay persons work to spread the good news of peacemaking and active nonviolence within local and national spaces.


In February’s episodes of The “Center,” featured guests will be representatives from the Social Justice Committee of St. Ann’s Catholic Church, a predominantly African American congregation in the East Baltimore Midway neighborhood. St. Ann’s is currently leading the call for the canonization of six African American Catholics. The American Catholic experience for people of color has been vastly different from the experience of white American Catholics. As the Roman Catholic Church struggles to evolve into a richer and more inclusive home for all, one fact stands out: the church has never made an African American Catholic a saint. This absence of an African American saint leaves a gap in the spiritual lives of 3 million Black Catholics in the United States. Featured guests will discuss the need for representation within the church as well as how these candidates for canonization served the church and society. This podcast will be published in two parts on February 9 and 23.


Future topics for The “Center” include the introduction to the staff of the Franciscan Peace Center, exploring the work of Sister Janet Ryan along with Olivia Hurst at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago, and an interview with Dr. Joanne Marie Terrell of the Chicago Theological Seminary who will be talking about the late Dr. James Cone and his advocacy of black theology and black liberation theology as well as her own work with art as nonviolent resistance.


Episodes of The “Center” can be streamed on major podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts as well as the Sisters of St. Francis website at www.ClintonFranciscans.com/the-center-podcast.  To contact The “Center” for an interview or other queries, email host Marsha Thrall at mthrall@clintonfranciscans.com.


The Franciscan Peace Center was established by the Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa as a means of integrating Franciscan spirituality with the mission of promoting active nonviolence and peacemaking.  The Center’s efforts focus on the corporate stands of the Clinton Franciscans on immigration reform, care for Creation, human trafficking, human rights, income inequality, and the abolition of the death penalty and nuclear weapons.

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