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Ecumenical Advocacy Days Feature Presidential Candidates’ Forum

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 40 Holy Name friars and partners in ministry are expected to participate in the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) being held this week. The new Franciscan Action Network (FAN) will be launched at the March 7-10 event, held at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center Hotel here. 

Participants may register for the EAD through the conference’s Web site (shown below). 

According to the event’s brochure, the theme,  “2008: Claiming a Vision of True Security,” is meant to inspire the nearly 1,000 expected attendees — religious advocates from around the country  — who will be trained by experts on advocacy and policy issues. The conference will include a presidential candidates’ Town Hall and lobbying on Capital Hill.

“The theme is fitting for the need for peace in our nation and our world,” said Russell Testa, director of Holy Name Province’s Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC).

Advocacy on Capitol Hill
“Sponsors of EAD are working at not only having an advocacy day on Capitol Hill that will help the United States have tools for better domestic and international peace, but also at getting the 2008 presidential candidates to come for a public forum. In this way, the participants can shape the possibility of a more peace-filled future. Franciscans must be a part of this dynamic if we are to be true to our charism,” said Testa.

In a January letter sent to the Province’s friars, Testa said that the goal of the planners is to have at least two representatives from each of the Province’s ministries attend the conference. 

“The event helps us address the Province’s Chapter 2005 priority calling all friars and partners in HNP ministries to be Franciscan peacemakers. The Ecumenical Advocacy Days are a real opportunity to do political advocacy that can help construct peace in the best of our Franciscan peacemaking tradition,” Testa added. 

Scholarships Offered
Because the EAD conference is a priority of the Province, the JPIC offers scholarship assistance to participate in the event. EAD is sponsored by 45 religious communities and social action organizations.

FAN is an effort to build a national Franciscan approach to advocacy for JPIC. It has been strongly supported by the Province, and, according to Testa, promises assistance to all ministries that want to be more effective at advocacy action.  

Joseph Nangle, OFM,
 a member of FAN’s board said,  “The organization will call on members of the Franciscan family in all parts of the world for assistance in our analyses and approaches to U.S. policies. At the EAD, activists from various Christian denominations will witness an inaugural ceremony consisting of prayer, a statement of purpose, and a reflection on the unique Franciscan flavor of our Washington organization.”

Featured at the Saturday evening launch of FAN will be speakers Mayann Cuimano Love and Fr. Michael Perry, OFM.

FAN comprises 40 members from a variety of Franciscan groups. It is directed by Testa and his new assistant, Peter Sloan, both in Washington, D.C.

The cost to register for the EAD event is $175. Information is available through Molly Keane, conference coordinator, at 202-386-6397.

Testa welcomes questions about the EAD, as well as about the JPIC ministry.  Contact him at 202-236-4085 orjpic@hnp.org.