The Coastal Star

Finding Faith: St. Paul’s Day School has a new director

Liz Ryan

By Janis Fontaine

   Liz Ryan has accepted a position with St. Paul’s Day School in Delray Beach as day school director.
    Ryan, who has a degree in music/theater, started her child- care career as a volunteer at her church and then honed her skills providing in-home child care. Once her own children were old enough to be in school all day, she taught preschool for 10 years at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs, her home parish at the time, before being named the preschool’s director, a position she held for more than six years.
    Ryan, who calls herself a “cradle Episcopalian,” says church, Sunday school, and choir were part of her life from day one. She stayed active through high school, playing guitar with the church “folk Mass” group. “I taught Sunday school as a teen and then again after I had my own children,” she said.
    Ryan said she follows the philosophy of Maria Montessori: “Play is the work of the child.” She hopes to add more music to the curriculum at St.Paul’s.
    In her spare time, Ryan likes to paint, crochet, knit, design Web pages, practice calligraphy and plan events.
    She will assume her position in June. She replaces Patti Daniell, who retires after 23 years.

Interfaith concert raises money for common goal
    At the end of January, Muslims, Christians and Jews came together in harmony to help Family Promise of South Palm Beach County raise money for its programs.
    The concert — called Sounds of Promise — featured choirs from five congregations, including St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Boca Raton. Members of Banyan Creek Elementary’s drum line also performed, and representatives from the Islamic Center of Boca Raton read from the Quran and recited poetry.
    Family Promise of SPBC finds work and housing for homeless families in Boca Raton and Delray Beach. The network consists of 19 congregations, and serves as an example of interfaith cooperation and acceptance.
    Marchele Courtney, who has volunteered at Family Promise for several years, helped organize the 90-minute concert.
    “We had such a variety of performers,” she said. “Our congregations brought their best performers to showcase their musical talent, including The Abundant Life Christian Center Choir from Margate. We had women from the Islamic Center read poetry in English and Arabic, and one recited a beautiful poem she had written. It was an hour of happy.”
    So far, Family Promise of SPBC has helped more than 300 people find jobs and housing. For more information, visit

Holocaust expert Father Patrick Desbois.

Photo provided

Holocaust investigator to speak
    Father Patrick Desbois’ life’s work — researching the Holocaust, fighting anti-Semitism, and improving the relationship between Catholics and Jews — has taken him all over the world. In March, it brings him to Palm Beach County.
    Desbois will speak at 8 p.m. March 29 about the genocide of the Yazidi people in 2014 at the hand of ISIS militants, who abducted women and girls and killed more than 5,000 civilians. He’ll also speak about his work in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
    Desbois is the founder and president of Yahad-In Unum, a global humanitarian organization dedicated to identifying and commemorating the sites of Jewish and Roma mass executions in Eastern Europe during World War II. Since 2004, Desbois has been researching the einsatzgruppen, the Nazis’ mobile killing units. These paramilitary death squads were responsible for many mass killings, such as Babi Yar, which lasted two days and killed 33,771 Jews.
    He also is director of the Episcopal Committee for Catholic-Judeo Relations, under the auspices of the French Conference of Bishops. His grandfather was a WWII prisoner of war held in the Rawa Ruska camp on the Poland-Ukraine border.
    An exhibition, Holocaust by Bullets, on display at the United Nations from Jan. 25 to Feb. 9, was one of many Holocaust remembrance events planned in 2016. The exhibition chronicled Yahad-In Unum’s work collecting evidence of massacres during WWII.
    Desbois, as president of Yahad-In Unum, spoke at a private reception when the exhibit opened. Organized by the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations, the exhibit was subtitled “The Hidden Holocaust.”
    Admission to the private briefing is by invitation only; call Ellen Safran at 906-9775 or email  For more information, visit

INSET BELOW: Marci Shimoff

Upcoming events
    Unhappy? Lonely? She has advice for you.
    New York Times best-selling author Marci Shimoff will be the guest speaker at the Jewish Women’s Foundation of South Palm Beach County’s Granting Wishes cocktail reception, which begins at 5:30 p.m. March 16 at Boca Rio Golf Club, 22041 Boca Rio Road in Boca Raton.
    Shimoff is a nationally recognized expert on happiness and unconditional love. The author of Love for No Reason and Happy for No Reason, she has a new philosophy about finding and keeping love and happiness.
    As part of the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Shimoff logged six bestselling titles including Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul and Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul, which have sold more than 14 million copies worldwide  in 33 languages. Her books have spent 108 weeks — more than two solid years — on top.
    Shimoff is related to a second important self-help strategy for achieving love and happiness as well as success. Shimoff is a featured teacher for “The Secret,” the visualize-what-you-want-and-you-shall-have-it phenomenon. She’s also the co-founder of the Esteem Group and is a frequent lecturer on empowerment and self-esteem, and on getting to and staying at the top of your game.
    The JWF’s grants fund programs that create social change. The group awarded $125,000 in 2015, and the JWF has awarded more than $1 million over the last dozen years. It funds initiatives in education, health, abuse prevention, and economic security that help women and children. JWF trustees contribute a minimum of $2,000 per year for five years, which allows them a say in which projects are funded.
    The Granting Wishes event features heavy hors d’oeuvres, desserts and wine (kosher dietary laws observed). Admission is $85.
    For more information, visit or contact Lisbeth Rock Cauff at 852-3188 or by email at

Janis Fontaine writes about people of faith, their congregations, causes and community events. Contact her at

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