Interfaith communities celebrate Harmony Week

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MANILA, Feb. 17, 2013—Various religious communities, interfaith organizations and peace advocates came together in spirit of unity and solidarity to culminate the celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo last February 7.

Quiapo Church rector Msgr. Jose Clemente Ignacio, in a message stressed that there is a need to engage everyone in a deeper understanding on the true nature of peace.

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim releases a dove, symbol of peace, during a program culminating the week-long observance of Interfaith Harmony Week at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, February 7.

Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME, an Italian Missionary for Peace in Mindanao and founder of Silsilah Dialogue Movement in Zamboanga City, for his part, said it is important to look on the positive aspects that can help bring peace.

“It is time to discover positive points among Christians and Muslims, and together of living faiths move towards other religions and culture as partners in building a new world, a new humanity. This means, we people of the book are living in harmony with one another and being reminded that God is working in us and in the society in many ways,” D’Ambra added.

The week-long celebration kicked off last February 1 with a press conference of leaders and representatives from Interfaith Groups.

Various activities were organized in solidarity with the global celebration, to foster friendship and advance common action between and among the interfaith communities, and to promote awareness on the challenges and aspirations of the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Organizers noted the significance of the interfaith harmony week celebration as it brought to the public’s attention the importance and the need for harmony between and among various faith groups.

It was also relevant that the venue of the celebration is in Manila, where the majority of the population belongs to two major religions which are Christianity and Islam.

The culminating program opened with a video presentation on harmony and peace, bringing awareness to people that harmony existed since 2010.

Members of the Quiapo Parish Youth Ministry performed an interpretative dance of harmony, while the Buddhist youth performed an intermission number based on the theme of the Interfaith Harmony Week.

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim gave the message of commitment for peace emphasizing the need of love for all and the commitment to work for the interfaith week in the city yearly.

Guests and representatives from various religious groups also gave short messages followed by the signing of covenant and the releasing of white dove as a symbol of unity, harmony and peace.

Sr. Marion Chipeco, RGS read a solidarity message from all religious leaders, while the secretary-general of Religions of Peace- Philippines gave her closing remarks.

The annual event, held every first week of February, was organized by UNI Harmony Partners Manila.

Committed to celebrate annually the interfaith week to promote mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue to achieve a culture of peace, the group also called on all religious communities, interfaith organizations, peace advocates and the government to spread the message of harmony, dialogue and cooperation.

Organizers partnered with religious communities and interfaith organizations such as Aksyon para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan-Center for Active Non-Violence, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue, Catholic Media Network, Dominican Justice, Peace and Care for Creation Commission, EDSA People Power Commission, Focolare Movement, and Miriam College Center for Peace Education.

Other partners also include the Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church), Quiapo Church-Ministry for Interreligious Dialogue, Religions for Peace Philippines, Silsilah Dialogue Movement, Teodora, University of the Philippines-Institute of Islamic Studies, and the University of Santo Tomas-Center for Peace Studies and Interfaith Dialogue. (Jandel Posion with reports from Aldamir Abdulkahal)