In honor of the Centro Pro Unione’s 50th anniversary, the Friars will host the 21st annual conference in recognition of Servant of God Paul Wattson and Mother Lurana White. This year’s conference will recognize the 800th anniversary of the meeting of St. Francis and the Egyptian Sultan with the theme “St. Francis and the Sultan – Foundations for Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the 21st Century.”

In recent decades, members of different faith communities have found particular inspiration in the historical encounter between Francis of Assisi and the Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil in 1219. The “success” of their encounter was due largely to the two individuals involved and their spiritualities.

The Centro’s program will begin with an exploration of that encounter, how they transcended the prejudices of their day, and how they came to see the “other” as friend rather than foe. They will then explore more recent initiatives in Catholic-Muslim dialogue worldwide, and conclude by reflecting on contemporary challenges to fruitful dialogue from Franciscan and Muslim perspectives.

Michael Calabria, OFM, Ph.D., is a Franciscan friar and founding director of the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at St. Bonaventure University in New York. He will speak at the conference along with Muhammad Shafiq, a Professor at Nazareth College, USA. Professor Shafiq holds a Ph.D. from Temple University, USA, and an MA and BA from the University of Peshawar, Pakistan.

For more about the Centro Pro Unione, visit