by Angelo Carteli, sx
From the all villages I have been before in my life, Harmony Village is one the most significant places I visited during this summer. Imagine that in the Philippines there is a “village” where both Muslims and Christians, in spite of their conflicts, do their best to live together in harmony and peace through dialogue. In fact, this village is more than a place it represents how the whole society should live.
For Zamboanga City and neighboring areas harmony village became a concrete gesture of charity and love towards their residents. It was founded by Fr. Sebastiano D’ Ambra PIME in 1990. Fr. Sebastiano moved by the situation in which Muslims and Christians were living together under prejudices and mistrust, had a brilliant inspiration of providing a place where Muslims and Christian and people of different cultures and religions would come together, share with each other their fears and desires, building a culture of dialogue. In short, the harmony village was born as an initiative for peace calling Muslims and Christians to dialogue.
Having dialogue as a path to peace, people are encouraged to look to what should unite Christians and Muslims rather then what divides them. And the base for peace is founded in the Sacred Scriptures of Islam and Christianity: “Love for God and love for one’s neighbor”. For that reason, each one is called to deepen these commandments in their own faith, being a true living witness of their religion. Furthermore we could learn from Gandhi when says: “I do not try to give up my religion to others, but only that they should see God’s presence in me” and we could add “and that I should see God’s presence in them.”
Finally, harmony village makes us realize how dialogue is important today among religions and cultures. It helps us rethink our way of expressing our religion in the context of a pluralistic society and globalized village; In this line let us have in mind and heart that “Dialogue starts from God and brings people back to God” (slogan of the Silsilah harmony village).