Silsilah’s presence in Quiapo, Manila for Muslim-Christian dialogue PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 28 August 2011 14:31

Silsilah seeks opportunities for interreligious dialogue efforts and peace building towards a better understanding between Muslims, Christians and people of other faith traditions, not only for Mindanao but on the entire Philippine and reaching other countries as well.

In Manila, Philippines- a great number of Muslims are found in Quiapo- the “old downtown” but now a rundown for commercial district. The Golden Mosque Quiapo serves as a point of convergence for Islamic activity in Quiapo. Many Muslims coming from different areas in Mindanao flock to Manila specifically in Quiapo due to unfavourable circumstances such as of the continuing violence and conflict in Mindanao and seeks better job and trade opportunities to sustain their families.

Quiapo is also famous for its Catholic Church the home of the Black Nazarene. Hundreds of devotees come and pray everyday. Good cohesion has existed in Quiapo- an inter-faith cooperation program was sought to address the diversity and complexity of the place.

Seeing these realities as a sign of the time, Msgr. Clemente Ignacio, parish priest of Quiapo provided a center for Silsilah Dialogue Movement through its founder, Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME. The center will be called as the Ministry for Interreligious Dialogue (IRD) a program that is in partnership with the Quiapo parish to initiates Muslim-Christian dialogue activities. The presence of Silsilah in the area hopefully can influence people to embrace differences and in the long run start to love differences as the Open Letter of 138 Muslim scholars all over the world jointly address their concern to the Pope an answer for mutual understanding between religions, calling for “Love of God and Love of Neighbour” needs to be emphasize.

The new IRD Center will give priority on formation on the Culture of Dialogue, as Path to Peace (COD), a spiritual approach for sustainable peace, thus, the movement had been working for almost 27 years where it is based and founded- in Zamboanga City.

On August 20, 2011, the Inter-Faith Dialogue Forum (IFDF)-Manila reflective group headed by Fr. D’Ambra gathered for a sharing at the Rector’s office in Quiapo parish, Manila. The group discussed on matters concerning effective means to get through to the Muslim community and slowly to erase prejudices among the children and the youth , tapping the leaders as well and institutions to engage on dialogue and peace initiatives. Few recommendations were articulated during the meeting; understand the situation of the Muslim-Christian relation in the place; there is a need to establish a sincere and trustworthy atmosphere of dialogue especially towards the Muslims, to build friendship among the people regardless of faith traditions and cultural background. At the end of the meeting the group decide d to meet again on September 20, 2011 for an informal gathering and simple inauguration of Silsilah Center-Manila.

It is a new hope for Silsilah as a way of spreading the Culture of Dialogue in strengthening Muslim-Christian dialogue in Quiapo and Metro Manila