From August 11 to 29 our community welcomed some young people from Italy accompanied by Fr. Simone. They came in order to have a missionary experience here in the Philippines. In their second week of having this experience, they went to Zamboanga to learn more about the interreligious center called Silsilah. The following is a reflection written by Giorgia about their exposure in that area. We take the opportunity to give thanks to Fr. Simone, Giorgia, Stefano, Antonio and Pietro for their presence in our community. We hope this missionary experience strengthened in them the commitment for the Gospel and its universal message of brotherhood.
An amazing experience
The second week of our missionary experience in the Philippines started with a trip to Zamboanga. In that city Christians and Muslims try to live together in harmony by sharing their own religious traditions. For four days, we stayed in the Harmony Village which is a part of the Silsilah community, founded by Father Sebastiano D´Ambra and Minda, a consecrated lay.
On Tuesday we woke up at 5:30 am with the sounds of the Muslim prayer, and 30 minutes later we started our mass. It seemed to be in another planet, because in such a small area we could hear the Muslim prayer and simultaneously, we were celebrating the Eucharist.
After the mass we went to an island called Santa Cruz, where some Muslim and Christian families live together. In that place the community of Silsilah established a small school for children. At first, it all seemed to be in a paradise: the sun, the sea and vacation. But when we were going back to the Harmony Village the thought of those children living in a very difficult situation made us feel a mixture of different emotions in our hearts.
In the afternoon from the sea we went to a mountain where we met JoJo, a woman who decided to move from the city to a place in close contact to nature and has dedicated her life to studying herbs. She is a great person, and we learned a lot from her.
The day after, on Wednesday, we were able to know the activities of the Silsilah community better. We visited some schools, supported by the Silsilah community, and we ate together with Christian and Muslim children in one of those schools. They were so beautiful, with their profound black eyes.
In the afternoon, in the company of Garçon, a Filipino Muslim, we went to visit two mosques. In the first one I could not enter because I´m a woman and also because I didn´t have the proper attire. In the second mosque we met an Imam who explained to us something about Islam and its tradition. We received a warm welcome from him and the people who were in that mosque.
It is difficult to think about a place where Christians and Muslims live together in peace, but Zamboanga is a concrete proof that it is possible. Our Muslim brothers and sisters showed us that they believe in the same God who is love.