Thirty years ago, in the area of Sta. Catalina, Zamboanga City, a poor area composed of Muslim and Christian residents, a simple experience started of lay Catholic women who consecrated their lives to the Lord as lay consecrated living together among the poor. This group is part of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement, living the same spirituality of life-in-dialogue, but deepening it in the spirit of the Catholic Church. After a few years, the group was officially approved by the archdiocese of Zamboanga as a Lay Association in the Church. In a more recent time, other Catholics, married and single, men and women, joined their charism and mission, living in their respective families. This group started to be called the “Emmaus Circle”. Together with the Emmaus Dialogue Community members, the Emmaus Circle members formed the “Emmaus Family”.

In the process of deepening and sharing this vocation, others in the Church, including seminarians, priests, and sisters had joined the family as Emmaus Circle Members. This new experience in the archdiocese of Zamboanga was spread also to other parts of the Philippines and in the past four years, the Emmaus Family decided to give special attention to the lay, giving them formation in the archdiocese of Zamboanga and in the Mindanao level, especially to the Catechists. Many also who had been formed in the past few years of this program had asked to be part of Emmaus and some had been accepted as Emmaus Circle members and some as Emmaus Volunteers.

Along the years, Emmaus also has been giving special attention to the youth, students, and young professionals, forming the “Stay With Us” group. This ongoing reflection and development have brought the Emmaus members to extend to many other Catholics their charism. In the recent gathering of all the members, the decision taken by the group was to present the different groups as the Emmaus Dialogue Movement.

The movement remains part of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement which is the biggest family of Muslims, Christians, and people of other religions who live the spirituality of life-in-dialogue. This is a new experience in the Church and it is also open to priests, sisters, seminarians and married people who already have their own specific commitment and vocation but are willing to be nurtured by the spirituality of life-in-dialogue as sign of the times in the Church and in the world where people of different cultures and religions can find the deeper motivation to be together and build a new society guided by the principle of the common good each one guided by the spiritual motivation of each religious identity.

This spirit of the Emmaus Dialogue Movement is also encouraging Muslim women who are starting similar experiences guided by their Islamic faith and the desire of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement to promote dialogue and peace.

This development inside the Silsilah Dialogue Movement is a clear sign that Silsilah proposes a spirituality for all, but each one has to nurture it guided by the general guidelines of Silsilah and the specific spirit of each religion. This reaffirms the basic principle of Silsilah since the beginning that is expressed in this message: “Dialogue starts from God and brings people back to God”. All of us find in it the challenge to maintain our religious identity and be in dialogue as an expression of love in action, silence and harmony. It is a long journey, but it is possible and it is happening.

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