NATIONAL SILSILAH ALUMNI GATHERING 2016: A Celebration of Courage and Hope
This year we mark the 30th Silsilah Summer Course on Muslim-Christian Dialogue. Many of our alumni of the Silsilah Summer Course now occupy leadership positions in different sectors, both private and public services in the Philippines and in other countries. We celebrate together to share our experiences and to build friendship in order to inspire each other to continue to live and promote the “Spirit of Padayon” that has guided Silsilah since the beginning, specifically from May 20, 1992 when Fr. Salvatore Carzedda, PIME, was killed in Zamboanga City during the 1992 Summer Course. We consider him a martyr of dialogue and peace. Other martyrs of dialogue and peace who have been alumni of Silsilah are Bishop Ben de Jesus, OMI who was killed in Jolo, Fr. Rhoel D. Gallardo, CMF who was killed in Basilan and Fr. Jesus Reynaldo A. Roda, OMI who was killed in the Tawi-Tawi area. In this critical times when the concept of martyrdom is sometimes connected with the use of violence, we in Silsilah reaffirm our understanding of martyrdom as an expression of love of God and love of neighbor. The martyrs are the victims of violence for a noble purpose, not those who use violence.
This National Gathering will be an occasion to:
1. Renew our friendship and commitment to live and promote the Culture of Dialogue Path to Peace.
2. Identify signs of violence without fear and face these together with courage and hope.
3. Give special attention to the Silsilah Forum areas in the Philippines and to the Silsilah Alumni in other countries.
4. Identify the priorities that each alumnus of Silsilah has to face with courage any situation to witness the Culture of Dialogue, Path to Peace.
In this critical times when many are losing hope and are afraid to present what is our mission of love and solidarity, we will challenge the National Gathering of the alumni of Silsilah who are scattered in countries around the world to recall the spirit of the Movement especially during the Summer Course where they have experienced friendship between Muslims and Christians living together and reflecting together on the basic elements of Islam, Christianity and Dialogue, including the immersion experiences where Muslims have been sent to live for some days in Christian families and Christians in Muslim families.
We wish to recall good stories of the past friendships as Silsilah alumni and to encourage each other to move with more courage and hope. For this reason, we invite those alumni who wish to attend the National Gathering on May 17-20, 2016 to contact us for more information at email@example.com and www.silsilahdialogue.com
We cannot contact all the thousands of alumni of the last 30 years of the Silsilah Summer Course of Muslim-Christian Dialogue and other alumni of different training and seminars of Silsilah, but we wish to be contacted by those who wish to attend and those who still care for the experience of Silsilah to send us inspiring stories of commitment taken after the experience of Silsilah or sending us reflections and messages of hope to sustain our difficult mission of dialogue and peace. We will publish messages and stories that we will find relevant in a special book.
This is also an occasion to be in contact in May to rebuild our record and to inform our alumni that Silsilah has spread its presence in many cities in Mindanao and Manila areas.
We close this news and reflections with a testimony of one alumni, Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, SJ, the Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in the Philippines:
“It was in the summer of 1989 when I made my Silsilah Summer Course. I was on my way out of Zamboanga City and preparing to go through four years of Theology before getting ordained, after two years of teaching ministry at the Ateneo de Zamboanga High School. The process of conversation and dialogue is crucial in the way we approach issues around interreligious dialogue and peace. It was my first crack at sustained interreligious dialogue, although prior to that there had been instances of exchange with people of different faiths. I became more convinced that religious and cultural diversity is not a problem to be solved, but something that will enrich our human lives and aspirations. It dawned on me that the way forward was how to strike our common ground, our common heritage, and our common aspiration rather than stress on our differences. It made me realize that dialogue, not debate, is the pathway to lasting peace and harmonious living. More importantly, it made me believe that there is hope to our human longings and hungers.”
The next Silsilah Summer Course on Muslim-Christian Dialogue will be held in Zamboanga City starting from the Basic Course (March 27 – April 16, 2016), Special Course (April 17 – 23, 2016), and Intensive Course (April 24 – 30, 2016).
The National Alumni Gathering 2016 will be also held in Harmony Village, Zamboanga City from May 17 – 20, 2016.
For more information contact us at Tel/Fax 983-0155 or 991-5663 or visit on website www.silsilahdialogue.com