Silsilah and the 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM4)

From January 16 to 20, 2017, Manila welcomed delegates from forty countries for the WACOM4.

The participants from the Philippines and other countries where around five thousand. This big event is part of a growing Catholic devotion and movement well known in the world and “Divine Mercy Chaplet”

In this occasion, the organization also invited Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME, founder of Silsilah Dialogue Movement and the President of Silsilah, Ms. Aminda Saño, EDC were invited to share their experiences.

Fr. D’Ambra in his reflection started to ask:
“Mercy, where are you?” and continued saying “I am touched by this big event and I am grateful to be with you here to reaffirm the message of mercy and hope in the world in the midst of so much violence and radicalism coming from those who have forgotten the message of Mercy of religions, especially the two major religions of the world: Christianity and Islam.
These religions remind us in different ways the centrality of “mercy and compassion.” I quote here only the Beatitudes of Jesus: “Blessed are the Merciful, for they will find mercy (Mt. 5:7) and the beginning of almost all surah of the Holy Qur’an: “In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.”

Recalling the dramatic experience of Abraham when he prayed to save Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction, we recall how Abraham interceded with God: “If I find fifty just people, can you save these cities?” Afraid that he could not find fifty just people, he bargained with God: “If I find 45…40…30…20…10…” (Gn. 18, 16-33) and God was always ready to share his pardon. Unfortunately, Abraham failed to find even ten just persons there and the two cities were destroyed.

We are here because we believe that today many implore the mercy of God and we hope for a better future. With this spirit, I started my mission in the Philippines forty years ago in Mindanao living in a Muslim village. It was a deep spiritual experience.
To those who ask me if I am still willing to continue, I say that I will continue this mission up to the end of my life. I am convinced that I am called to remain in the mission as a sign of hope.

In a recent gathering of teachers of Basilan, one of them told me that a Muslim student told her: “Ma’am we can kill the Christians” and when the teacher asked who taught him, he answered: “my father.” Well, this is one of the many things that alarm all of us and also good Muslims who do not identify themselves with some radical and violent groups and are ashamed of what is happening now in the name of Islam.

I often say to my good Muslim friends that even the Christians in the past have reached to similar level of “hatred” towards people of other religions and nationalities. Some sectors of the Church in the past have also justified slavery and other forms of violence. Thanks to God we are now in this stage of the life of the Church where we are called to be in dialogue with all, to love all as brothers and sisters.

The Harmony Chain Initiative and the Harmony Prayer that we are sharing with you is a way to communicate this message and to invite people of different religions to be united in meditation and prayer. God listens to those who pray with sincerity of the heart.

Ms. Aminda Saño shared her experience. She has been an active member of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement from 1984 up to now. She emphasized: “The most painful experience for me and Silsilah happened in the night of May 20, 1992 when Fr. Salvatore Carzedda, PIME a companion of Fr. Sebastiano in Siocon and then later became a member of Silsilah, was killed. That occasion was critical for Silsilah and many suggested that we close the movement because this kind of dialogue is dangerous. But I recall a statement of Fr. Salvatore that he told me, “No matter if I’m around or not, “Padayon!” (Move on). This message circulated among us members of Silsilah and now it is our expression and motto that encourages us even in difficult times to move on and encourage others to be in the spirit of love and mercy. This event, for sure, influenced my life and determination to consecrate my life to the mission of Silsilah as a Christian, living the spirituality of Life-in-Dialogue with God, self, others, and creation.

Silsilah through the years has been very visible on the National and International Levels especially because we try to promote the spirituality of Life-in-Dialogue to Muslims, Christians, and people of other living faiths. With this spirit, we are moving in different directions according to the signs of the times.”

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