Song and Spirit presentations are unlike anything you or your faith community have experienced. A Franciscan minstrel and tireless advocate for social justice; a Jewish troubadour and teacher; an artist who breathes peace into every community art project…

Song and Spirit will change the way you think of study, prayer, art and music. It will deepen your spiritual practice and your understanding of the Divine Presence in this world.

Doorways, Portals and Cracks in Time

Every faith tradition has its prayers and its rituals. The purpose of these rituals is to open doorways of transformation, to take us to interior spiritual places that we’ve forgotten how to get to, places where time slows down. A prayer is sometimes more than a prayer, a doorway is not always merely a doorway, and we are not always going where we are going for the reasons we think we are. Bro. Al and Maggid Steve lead a mystical and illuminating interfaith exploration of the mysterious landscape of our souls.

Topics: Sacred time / holy space; Icons, rituals, liturgy and other accessories for altering time; Greek time vs. Hebrew time; Space-time and the spiritual continuum; Shabbat / Lord’s Day

Sacred Hospitality

B’tzelem Elohim - in the image of God. The flame that burns within connects us in intimate ways, sometimes allowing recognition of the image of God. More than simply making us responsible for one another, this shared inner light also offers non-intellectual ways of engaging with the sacred. Music moves along a different pathway; so do nostalgia and remembrance. Join us as we experience the effects of a variety of practices, grappling directly with paradox, how ritual bends time, and the quantumly-entangled nature of all our souls.

Topics: Pointe vierge – a brilliant light within; Ubuntu  – I am because you are; Angels and Messengers; Sonic theology; Chant, hymn, nigun and incantation; Quantum entanglement

Sharing Jesus: A Sacred Exchange

Christian spiritual practice is rooted in, and continues to reflect, deeply Jewish concepts. But it’s not enough to speak of Christianity as arising out of 1st century Judaism, nor even to see Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism as diverse reactions to the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in 70 CE. Whether as the 1st century Jewish reformer and martyr Rabbi Yehoshua, or as the risen Christ come to redeem the world, Jesus is the bridge between two faith traditions -- one that has historically served to separate us, but can now unite us in spiritual exploration.

Martin Buber noted that, “We Jews know Jesus from within, in the impulses of his Jewish being, in a way that remains inaccessible to the peoples submissive to him.” Join us as we explore the life and work of the most most famous Jewish teacher in history, in a way you have never experienced before.

Topics: Jewish Jesus, Jewish Mary, Jewish apostles; Hillel & Jesus, and a path from biblical to rabbinic Judaism; the Essenes, the Desert Fathers and the converso Jesus; Beatitudes and Psalms; Lord’s Prayer and Kaddish; Ana B’koach and Our Lady Undoer  of Knots; Shabbat / Lord’s Day

Nature Mysticism: the Other Sacred Scripture

Francis of Assisi, 13th century founder of the Order of Friars Minor, and Israel ben Eliezer, (the Baal Shem Tov), 18th century founder of Hasidism, were nature mystics who believed that divine incarnational light animated all of creation. Their message of love and hope brought comfort to the uneducated masses who had no expectation of achieving an academic understanding of religious mysteries, and yet both of these visionaries laid the foundation for a down-to-earth mysticism that blossomed beyond their lives. The movements they began are among the most potent and vibrant forces in their respective faith traditions to this day. Let’s take a look at these two spiritual brothers, who believed that nothing really exists outside of the light of God and that, if we see with eyes of enchantment, whichever way we look, we see God smiling back at us.

Topics: Incarnational theology; Shechinah / Holy Spirit; Tzimtzum / Kenosis -- the humility of God; Holy foolery; Hasidic stories / Franciscan stories

Peace is the Final Frontier

Shalom – the Hebrew word for peace – is derived from shaleim, the Hebrew word for wholeness or completeness. Why is the Jewish religious reformer, Jesus, referred to as the Prince of Peace? In offering his followers the gift of peace, he gifts them with a means of healing, a practice to counteract fear, anger, hatred. We will explore how we utilize shalom – in all its linguistic and philosophical permutations — to make ourselves better people, to serve as angels to one another, to make the world a fuller, more complete plane of existence, exploring the vast and rich tradition of stories, teachings and songs dealing with the emanation of shalom into our world.

Topics: The Four who entered paradise; Jacob’s ladder; Angels and messengers; Shalom aleichem - peace be unto you;  Breathing peace as meditation and prayer


Peace. Love. Mosaics!

Since ancient times, artists have used small, colored pieces of glass, stone, tile and more to create beautiful mosaic masterpieces. But working together in groups to create objects of beauty is an organic, dynamic process that creatively brings communities together in deeper ways than they imagine. Shared intent, shared creation, shared laughter, great spirit!

Mary will design a custom mosaic project for people from one or more faith communities. There are several options for a completed project. In one - participants work together to complete stand-alone work(s) of mosaic art on an overall theme; e.g. Faith, Hope, Agape, Shalom, etc. Each faith community takes one finished piece home to their congregation and, when the communities gather, these companion pieces “reunite” to create a completed, connected message of common/shared values. Option two would be appropriate for a single community where participants work on a single piece to be installed in their place of worship. A third option would be to gather to create individual pieces (on a given theme) which go home with each participant. Mary works with your community to consider the creative option that works best for your group.

While participants take turns working on the mosaic project, we suggest a shared service project take place in the same space. For example, Song and Spirit collects and creates over 10,000 SnackPax each year to feed children in the metro Detroit area experiencing food insecurity at home. Each Snack Pax contains a fruit cup, protein or breakfast bar, a juice/milk box and a spoon/napkin. Items are placed in decorated brown paper lunch bags (crayons/markers are used for decorating). Participants bring items collected from their community(ies) and decorate, sort and stuff bags together in the art space.

While Mary is coordinating the Art/Service projects, Steve and Br. Al are available for informal conversations, questions, music and appropriate interaction.

Instructor: Mary Gilhuly, Art Director/Co-Founder of Song & Spirit Institute for Peace.

STAND-ALONE PROGRAMS –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Yours, Mine and Ours: The Interfaithful Family

Interfaith families are everywhere in America these days, especially among Jews and Christians. Even if both parents are of one faith, chances are there’s a grandparent or set of aunts, uncles or cousins who identify as something else. Navigating these waters has always been a challenge, but success is still defined by preparation and approach. Hazzan Steve Klaper and Mary Gilhuly discuss their 30+ year interfaith marriage, raising 2 children while Mary remained active in her Catholic parish and Steve went on to ordination as a Jewish maggid and cantor.

Spiritual backpacks; how to separate / how to join; you can’t please everyone!; what you owe your kids; what you owe your parents; what you owe your tradition; what you owe yourselves  (1 or 2 hour presentation and discussion)

Francis: Pope for a Change

Pope Francis, during his brief time as Shepherd of the Roman Catholic Church, has inspired people, of all religious faiths with his message of love, compassion and care for all creation. Like his namesake, the saint of Assisi, Pope Francis focuses on a world infused with divine incarnation, and speaks directly of sacred hospitality and the humility of God in creative and imaginative ways. Join us as we explore the challenging message of this pope, at once a modern nature mystic and a comforter of the lost and forgotten of the earth.

Pastor among the princes; Sacred hospitality; Care of creation in the service of incarnational theology; Our Lady Undoer of Knots and quantum entanglement; Shabbat -- bringing the sacred into our distracting world   (1-2-hour presentation, or full-day retreat)

An Interfaith Havdalah: Re-Discovering the Gift of the Sabbath:

Ushering in Sacred Time

For centuries, our Jewish friends and neighbors have welcomed the Sabbath as a time apart. Now, Brother Al and Maggid Steve conclude the Jewish Shabbat with a traditional Havdalah Service, and then introduce a new ritual of DomeniCandela – a Sunday Candle, a unique ceremony of song and candle-lighting, marking the beginning of sacred time for our Christian sisters and brothers. Each Sunday should be a small Easter -- a special moment of time to mark and reflect upon. Instituting this practice helps us to learn, from the centuries-old Jewish practice of Shabbat, how to keep the Lord’s Day, not the Lord’s Hour. A deep and moving interfaith experience.     (hour-long evening program)

EVENING PROGRAMS & PERFORMANCES ––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Lent Beyond the Ashes: a Unique Lenten Eexperience

Brother Al Mascia, ofm, Maggid Steve Klaper and Mary Gilhuly present a Lenten program which views this period of reflection as a transformative experience – both in its origins, throughout history and into our present day.  Along the way, they discuss remembrance as kairos rather than chronos (the Hebrew/Aramaic idea of time instead of the Greek), what we learn from reading The Lord’s Prayer in the original Aramaic, and how we stand in a long line of people trying to make sense of the Mystery.

Join us as we explore the seen and unseen, learning from and paying attention to each in its turn.  (hour-long evening program)

Once upon a Sacred Night…

a Franciscan Christmas in story and song

Did you know St. Francis of Assisi was the first one to celebrate the nativity with a live creche? Join us for a staged presentation of delightful tales, original Christmas music and a magical retelling of St. Francis of Assisi, as he invites the people of Greccio to experience the birth of Jesus in a very personal and present way.

People of all ages will be engaged by this unique and holy Christmas journey, presented by the founders of the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace.  (hour-long evening program)

An Interfaith Psalm Experience: Taizé with a Twist

As the moon gently smiles upon eventide, so too does the human spirit gently settle as it welcomes the evening. Join Brother Al and Maggid Steve for an interfaith psalm experience as we sing in English, Hebrew, Latin, Arabic, Ladino and Hindi. A unique musical, meditative evening of devotional chant, music and stories.  (hour-long evening program)

The Adventures of Sender the Klopper

In the old country, the klopper went house-to-house through the Jewish shtetl (village), knocking on shutters and calling people to prayer. In this unique one-man show, Maggid Steve Klaper pays homage to his family’s original vocation as he assumes the role of 18th century troubadour-raconteur Sender the Klopper, exploring what it means to be a 21st century spiritual storyteller. People of all faiths will be affected by this very personal narrative.  (hour-long evening program)

Interfaith Programs, Retreats, Missions, Shabbatons

Brother Al Mascia, OFM; Hazzan-Maggid Steve Klaper; Mary Gilhuly

We offer presentations for adult group study and faith formation in five general areas,

which can be structured as 1-2 hour programs, day retreats or a full weekend experience

To schedule a program or retreat, contact Meredith Skowronski at


Calendar of Events