Jun. 03, 2023 11:30 AM
Members of the Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs Ministry (EIAM) of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene together with fellow members from the Ministry on Interreligious Dialogue of Sacred Heart Parish, Sta. Mesa, Manila (Photo by Mr. Alfrein Quirionez, EIAM)
Sacred Heart Parish-Santa Mesa–May 29, 2023, the Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs Ministry (EIAM) of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene headed by Mr. Alfrein Quirionez facilitated the first-ever formation on interfaith dialogue with the members of the newly formed Interreligious Dialogue Ministry-Sacred Heart Parish led by Ms. Rose Barcelona. This activity marks the official start of collaboration and partnership between the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene and Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in the field of interreligious dialogue.
At 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon, Mr. Quirionez, resource speaker, steered the discussion first with an opening prayer, the ‘Harmony Prayer’ by Rev. Fr. Sebastian, PIME. He explained that this prayer song reflects the total out war between state forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in Mindanao in 2000 during the term of former President Joseph Estrada. Such armed conflicts also manifest long-time religious division sowing historical mistrust, biases and prejudices between Christians & Muslims. Hence, the call for establishing interreligious dialogue remains challenging because ‘nothing has started yet’ and engaging in one remains unappealing, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable.
To introduce dialogue, Mr. Quirionez presented the significance of the Vatican II Council in the highly modernized and pluralized world. This conveys the message of renewal, openness, and external adaptation of the Church’s mission to the world. Prominent holy figures of the Vatican II Council such as: Pope John Paul XXIII, Pope Paul XI, John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, etc. described this event as an avenue of uniting people in the journey of searching for God and asking for humanity’s forgiveness for the past sins of the Church to ‘recognize the need for transcendence.’ Through humility and confession, dialogue can be established as the mission of Jesus Christ to us in the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the context of the Philippines, Mr. Quirionez applied this in the current project of Roman Catholic of the Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM), the Traslacion Road Map. Echoing the extended synodality efforts of ‘listening and walking together’ in reforming the Church as a dynamic institution of the faithful.
In the concluding part of this first formation activity, Mr. Quirionez affirmed that no matter how different we are with other religions in terms of dogma, belief, customs, and other traditions, the main essence of dialogue is to go beyond those building of stones but to discover and appreciate the sense of spirituality where everyone can meet all together to experience the Sacred. As agents of interreligious dialogue, he leaves us a challenge of ‘how to see the spirituality behind us’. This means that developing this ‘culture of encounter’ means meeting people of different faiths and sharing stories with them to cultivate peace and harmony. Borrowing the quote of Hans Kung, “If there is no peace between and among religions, there will be no meaningful peace in the world.”
Dialogue serves as the first stepping stone to realizing and fulfilling aspirations of bridging systematic gaps and encouraging communal participation from different walks of religion. Be it a Christian or a Muslim. In the spirit of the Pentecost, we call upon our Holy Spirit to continually guide us in our mission of new evangelization like the disciples, who were delegated with the mission of spreading the Good News of salvation to all people of all nations.
– Kidanzac A. Tallada | EIAM & ADRM