With Gratitude and Joy

“Gratitude is the remembrance of the heart.” And it is with a grateful heart that the Silsilah Dialogue Movement looks back over the years, to the day of its founding 25 years go, and so celebrates its 25th Anniversary on May 9, 2009. Having lived through experiences in his first mission assignment in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte that profoundly affected him, Fr. Sebastiano D´Ambra, PIME, moved by God´s grace, founded the Silsilah Dialogue Movement on May 9, 1984. While at his mission assignment, Fr. Sebastiano realized that God´s love for humanity is for all, and not just for those of a particular religion. This realization led to a new perspective of loving, and thus reaching out and building bridges – dialogue – among people. The Silsilah Dialogue Movement, over the past 25 years, has pursued its vision of dialogue, based on a spirituality that calls for respect for people even in the face of differences of religious beliefs and cultural backgrounds. Silsilah reaches out to different sectors and age groups – leaders and ordinary residents of the community, the adults and the youth, whether they be Muslims, Christians or followers of any other living faith. These different groups will be involved in activities which will bring them into the celebrations that will highlight Silsilah´s work with their particular sector or group.On May 9 in the morning the Silsilah family will come together in Harmony Village for the first of these activities. There will be the groundbreaking for the construction of two prayer houses within the village – one for Muslims and the other for Christians. These two structures are part of the Tulay 5 Project. The Most Rev. Romulo Valles, Archbishop of Zamboanga, will preside at the groundbreaking for the Christian prayer house while Ustadz Abdullah Ibrahim will preside at the prayer for the groundbreaking of the Muslim prayer house. In between there will be the inauguration of the Harmony Post within the Village. These rites will be followed by a program in the auditorium, named after Hadji Jainudin Nuño and Fr. Santo Di Guardo, PIME. A fellowship lunch will end the morning´s activities. In the morning of May 10, there will be a program at the Paniran extension community in Sta. Catalina. This community started out as the relocation area for families whose homes were burned down in a fire at the old Paniran area. The families were assisted by Silsilah in their relocation and the rebuilding of their homes. This new community has demonstrated the spirit of dialogue and cooperation that Silsilah promotes and so Silsilah will recognize the community with the Silsilah Harmony Award. In the evening of May 10 Silsilah, through the Inter-Faith Council of Leaders, will host a dinner for leaders of the community, the same leaders who have been supportive of the many activities of Silsilah over the years. The dinner will be in one of the downtown hotels. The farmers in the Baluno area of Zamboanga City are actively involved in the Dialogue with Creation Program of Silsilah. The various activities of the group center in the Escuela del Siembradores and it will be in this escuela (school) that a simple celebration will take place on May 11. The youth sector involved in the Movement, through the SilPeace, will begin the Silsilah Solidarity Youth Camp on the same day inside the Harmony Village. About 100 youthful participants are expected to attend the camp which will run from May 11 to 15. The camp hopes to bring together young people from different faith groups and share experiences of friendship, acceptance and trust. Silsilah looks back with gratitude and joy through the past 25 years and looks forward to the coming years with hope in God´s providence and the joy of harmony with people of all faiths.