Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 20, 2010: A Day to Celebrate and Remember

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - The 20th day of May has always been significant day in the life of Silsilah Dialogue Movement and to some Muslim and Christian individuals who have become part of the movement since it started promoting dialogue and peace in the Philippines 26 years ago. May 20 marks the day in 1992 when Fr Salvatore was shot and killed in Zamboanga City while he was driving back to the PIME House in Suterville after a day of lectures for the Silsilah Summer Course.

Fr Salvatore used the expression “Padayon” (Move on) to encourage others in their work for the promotion of dialogue. This has become a common expression among Silsilah members and friends to encourage each other. On May 20 each year Fr. Salvatore is especially remembered with love and affection.

May 9 is the official date of Silsilah’s foundation and usually marked with a small celebration. Fr Sebastiano D’Ambra, Silsilah’s founder and a great friend of Fr Salvatore, during an interview said that: "This year, we moved the date of the 26th anniversary celebration of Silsilah to May 20 to give way to the preoccupation of the people in the election and to remember Fr Salvatore who died on that day in 1992. I am happy with the developments in the movement and that more people in the national and even at the international level look to Silsilah as a sign of hope not just in the Philippines but also in Asia. Regardless of the fact that we live in the midst of the difficulties we experience today, dialogue continues between and among people of different faith traditions, particularly among Muslims and Christians.”

Also on May 20 this year, two other occasions will be marked.

In preparation for the 25th year of the Silsilah Summer Course in 2011, a directory listing the names of the 2,000 or so people who have done the Silsilah Summer Course since the first one in 1986 will be launched. These 2000 people represent some 300 groups and institutions which have regularly sent participants to the summer course.

"Individuals who have attended the summer course are now key persons in different institutions and this experience of the course tells us that while the initial effort has been done by Silsilah, the same individuals exercise influence in their respective organizations or institutions to promote dialogue. Participants generally say that the Silsilah experience is always a positive one. We continue to provide this course for Muslims and Christians and people of other living faiths who are interested in dialogue and peace," Fr D’Ambra said.

On the same occasion, the Center for Holistic Health Care (CHHC) will be inaugurated. The CHHC is the result of reflection over time on how to implement an initiative which is aligned with a pillar of dialogue, dialogue with creation, and which will promote a holistic, preventive approach to basic health care. The CHHC is the fruit of that reflection.

The inauguration of the CHHC will be graced by the presence of distinguished guests like Dr Aristedes Tan, Regional Director of the Department of Health IX; Dr Rodelin Agbulos, City Health Officer; Fr Antonio Moreno, SJ, President of Ateneo de Zamboanga University; members of the CHHC’s Board of Volunteer Consultants, and other Silsilah friends, alumni and members.

"I am living this great experience of dialogue in the same way I experienced the beginning of the movement. I hope the hope and spirit become bigger as these are what make Silsilah a real movement. For the next years to come, I would like to see Silsilah moving outside Zamboanga by means of many dialogue approaches."

"One of such approach would be strengthening the effort in the different Silsilah Forum areas around the Philippines. After 25 years, the dialogue experience has become a reality not only to Silsilah but to other institutions who have understood the spiritual dimension of the essence of dialogue and peace. In the past, religion has been the occasion of conflict; instead religion must be an opportunity for reconciliation giving more attention to the centrality of God in the life of humanity," said Fr D' Ambra said in his message for the 26th anniversary of Silsilah.

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