The End is Just the Beginning
The official close to the 2014 Interfaith Harmony Week happened on Friday, February 7 at the Grand Astoria Celebrity Hall in a 2-hour program which started at 6:30 in the evening. It was attended by representatives of the various groups which make up the UN Interfaith Harmony Partners Zamboanga, the collaborators in staging the various activities for the week under the leadership of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement.
Also in attendance were Fr. Andrzej Halemba and three colleagues from the Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy Father.
The evening’s program was supposed to include the induction of the members of the Interfaith Council of Zamboanga, many of whom are members of the groups that make up the UN IFHP-Z. The Interfaith Council of Zamboanga is an initiative of the city government of Zamboanga whose Sangguniang Panlunsod (City Council) passed Ordinance No.420 creating the council. The ordinance recognizes the multi-cultural and multi-religious composition of Zamboanga City and the positive role that an Interfaith Council can play in promoting harmonious relations among the various faith groups and thus also promote peace in the city and the region. The City Mayor, Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, chairs the Interfaith Council which will have as many as 20 members from the different faith and cultural groups in the city.
The induction of the members of the Interfaith Council was part of the program for the closing of the Interfaith Harmony Week and it would have closed the activities for the week on a high note. Unfortunately the Mayor was called out of town to attend an important meeting in Manila and she could not be present. It was decided to defer the induction of the Interfaith Council members to another day.
This page has reported on the launching program for the week and between that day and the official close of the week a number of activities took place. On February 5 some 150 tricycle drivers gathered on the grounds of the Pastoral Center to listen to what interfaith harmony is all about and how they can play their own role in the promotion of this good. The drivers who came were very much impressed, saying that this was the first time that they had been given attention in this way.
The following day young members of the SilPeace Youth had their Day of Service at the ZC Medical Center, a government hospital for city residents which also serves patients from the nearby island provinces. The young people served the patients bowls of rice porridge with chicken pieces.
While the “official” Interfaith Harmony Week ended on February 7 the UNI-HP-Z is committed to continue the promotion of harmony and cooperation among the various faith groups in the city. It is hoped that a heightened awareness of the need for interfaith harmony so as to promote a peaceful community will lead to a way of life and interactions among the people that indeed express respect, tolerance and acceptance of each other’s faith. This will be a continuing challenge amidst all the prods to act otherwise.