09/05/2009, 00.00
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Theatre and dance in dialogue between Christians and Muslims in Mindanao

by Santosh Digal
The passion of a Catholic priest for theatre and dance allows Christians, Muslims and indigenous people who grew up in war to get to know each other, by educating young people to know peace and dialogue.

Illigan City (AsiaNews) - Spreading the message of peace and brotherhood between Muslims and Christians through dance and drama. This is the intent of Father Rudolf M. Galenzoga head of  Interreligious Dialogue of the Diocese of Illigan, who for 25 years with his troupe educates young people of different faiths and cultures.  

"We're trying to bring together Christians and Muslims together here," said Fr Galenzoga, "to promote harmony between different faiths, which is a task that lasts a lifetime."

Father Galenzoga comes from a family of indigenous Tumod. After his ordination in 1969 he decided to travel to London to study theatre. In 1974 he founded a theatre company in Mindanao composed of 35 members, mostly students. His idea is to turn them into modern evangelists to help Christians, Muslims and indigenous peoples to know each other better.

The first performance of the company was "Maranatha", a musical telling of the rampant corruption within society, shows how love can bring together people of different faiths together in harmony. This first experiment in 1987 lead him to investigate aspects of Islamic culture by studying at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic Studies in Rome. Over ten years, he visited many Arabic-speaking countries (Egypt, Libya, Syria). On his return he took up the position of chaplain in the Mindanao State University in Illigan City, attended by many Muslim students. Here he began to foster among them the opportunity of dialogue and mutual understanding, using theatre as a means to share cultures and traditions. Thanks to this work Fr. Galenzoga has been able to establish over the years the Mindanao People's Conference, an organization that involves youth and workers of different faiths, including indigenous Lumad.  

"I am aware that I and my company only touch a small area," said Fr Galenzoga. He adds: "If we work in the correct direction in terms of peace, education, changing habits and attitudes in terms of a revival among the younger generation of  the culture of peace against violence, this little work will not have been in vain”.



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