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    » 09/13/2004, 00.00

    PHILIPPINES

    Silsilah, 20 years of dialogue for peace



    Manila (AsiaNews) – The Silsilah Dialogue Movement, one of the Philippines most important peace movements, has turned 20. Its mandate was and still is to promote greater understanding and better relations between Muslims, Christians and other religions and peoples.

    True to the meaning of the Arabic word for 'chain', Silsilah has brought together people from different parts of the Philippines. True to its mandate, it has worked to work for peace in Mindanao.

    Founded in 1984 in Zamboanga City, Mindanao, Silsilah initially took small steps. In the beginning, said founder Fr Sebastiano D'Ambra of the Pontifical Institute for foreign Missions (PIME), it "was my way of sharing the experience of dialogue and peace with my Muslim and Christian friends who were open and interested in journeying with me. This required courage, determination, faith and hope."

    The first seeds of the movement were planted seven years earlier, in 1977, when Father D'Ambra was sent to his first mission in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, Mindanao. "It was here that I saw conflict and division among Muslims and Christians. It was here that a great desire to be a bridge of peace was born in my heart," he recalls. "It was here that I understood in a deeper way what meant 'dialogue starts from God and brings people back to God.' This inspiration and understanding encouraged me to continue the mission of peace through dialogue that has its roots in a spiritual experience."

    Although things were not easy at the start, Father D'Ambra did find friends with whom he shared similar concerns. The most difficult moment came when Fr Salvatore Carzedda of PIME, the movement's co-founder, was killed on May 20, 1992. It was a big blow for everyone in the movement. Yet, everyone knew that the road was going to be one of sorrow and hardship. For Father D'Ambra work had to go on. For him "obstacles in life provide opportunities to strengthen one's commitment, vision and mission."

    After 20 years membership in Silsilah is in the hundreds. Its contribution to the community includes setting up Emmaus Dialogue Community in 1987, a community of Christian laywomen in Zamboanga City, whose members are blessed with the charisma of the Beatitudes of the Gospels and the spirituality of "life-in-dialogue". With the help of local youth, Silsilah has also set up "Media for Dialogue and Peace".

    In addition to the Silsilah Center in Zamboanga, the Father D'Ambra's movement runs a 14-hectare Harmony Village outside the city where it offers training courses. The village includes a small mosque, a small chapel and a demonstration farm for environment friendly farming methods. It is the perfect site to reflect upon God's blessings. (SE)

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    See also

    20/09/2006 PHILIPPINES – ISLAM
    Sincere faith and dialogue are the only ways to peace between Christians and Muslims
    From Zamboanga, where he heads the Muslim-Christian Silsilah Dialogue Movement, a PIME missionary sends AsiaNews his thoughts about the recent criticism in the Muslim world directed at the Pope's Regensburg speech. He urges everyone to bring God back into their everyday life.

    10/07/2007 PHILIPPINES
    Mass for Father Bossi’s release celebrated in Zamboanga
    During the service celebrated a month to the day after the missionary’s abduction, his fellow clergymen in the Philippines pray that the kidnappers’ hearts be touched and that Father Bossi be allowed to go back to the place where God invited him to serve his flock.

    10/06/2007 PHILIPPINES
    PIME missionary, Fr Giancarlo Bossi, abducted in Mindanao
    The missionary has worked for almost 30 years on the Mindanao Island where Muslim guerrillas have been battling the army for the island’s autonomy.

    09/07/2007 VATICAN – PHILIPPINES
    I think about Father Bossi every day, says Pope
    “Let us hope and pray that the Lord may help us,” the Pope said in response to a question from a reporter on his arrival in the mountain village where he will spend a few days’ rest.

    23/01/2008 PHILIPPINES
    Letter by 138 Muslim intellectuals calls on Muslims to reflect upon their faith, says Muslim scholar
    Ali Aiyub, a Muslim, is the director of the Silsilah Dialogue Institute. He considers the Open Letter a milestone in the history of Islam in the modern world, comparable to the Second Vatican Council, since it pushes Muslims towards dialogue in today’s chaotic world.



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