Louise Franklin Sheehy

The Multifaith Education Project

In Memory of Louise Franklin Sheehy

February 18, 1939 – April 18, 2020

It is with great sadness that we say good-bye to our dear founder and friend, Louise Franklin Sheehy, who passed away on April 18, 2020 from a horrific disease, progressive supranuclear palsy. She was ill for over a decade. She lived to be 81.

Louise was a most amazing woman; a leader, pathfinder, innovator, and visionary. Louise had a brilliant mind and a brilliant heart, a rare combination. She had a passion for peace and arduously pursued it.

“When people ask my religion, I tell them my roots are deeply planted in Judaism, but my branches go everywhere. In my spiritual walk, I have been deeply nourished by the lessons from my own tradition, but also from Christianity where I have found teachings of great value, especially after marrying a Christian man (Frank Thomas Sheehy). All the religious traditions have offered me truths that I can embrace.” Louise quoted in theOrlando Sentinel, 2003.

And embrace she did. Louise produced a peacemaking conference for 350 women under the auspices of the Matrix of Greater Orlando in 2003 and 2004. The conference was entitled, “Peace Building: Where are the Voices of Women?”

Also in 2003, Louise co-founded the Olive Trees Foundation for Peace, a coalition of Jews, Christians and Muslims in Orlando, Florida with the goal of planting olive trees in Israel as a means of creating a climate of cooperation and reconciliation. In two years, over 30,000 trees were planted.

Continuing her peace building, in 2004, Louise began the Olive Trees Foundation for Peace Education Project with the goal of building bridges between middle school students of the three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This Foundation was the predecessor for the current Multifaith Education Project (MEP) organized by Louise in 2007. Since then, the students of MEP have planted over 100 trees in Winter Park, Florida in the name of peace.

Louise was honored for her peace building work by Amnesty International, receiving their 2006 Human Rights Award. Per Amnesty International, “Louise is a leader in Central Florida any time women come together to explore ways to build peace.”

In addition to all of this, Louise was the first President of the Jewish Federation of Orlando and coordinated the Oral History Program for the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida. She was inspirational in the formation of many other groups including The Millionth Circle and Jewish Family Services and was involved in The Holocaust Studies Project at Valencia College, Elderhostel at Canterbury Retreat Center, and Life at UCF.

Louise once wrote:

I know that the only reliable way to bridge the walls between us and “the other” is by meeting, talking, telling our stories, listening generously with an open mind, but more important, with an open heart that wants to understand, be loving and patient, and most of all, remain vulnerable to one another.

Louise will be missed by many whose lives she touched and encouraged. May her love for peace carry-on.

And per Louise, “Don’t ask ‘What’s wrong?’ Ask ‘What’s possible?’ And keep asking.”

Thank you to Louise’s dear friend, Enid Jackowitz, who contributed to this memorial.