MANILA, Sept. 25, 2011—The Quiapo parish has launched a center for dialogue and peace to spread the spirituality of dialogue among Christians and Muslims in the area.

Quiapo district has the biggest number of Muslim communities in Metro Manila.

Parish priest Msgr. Clemente Ignacio lauded the opening of the center saying that it has been the dream of the parish to engage in the ministry of interreligious dialogue.

“It has been a dream to have a Ministry for Interreligious Dialogue (IRD) for the Quiapo parish and I am very grateful to Silsilah Dialogue Movement for offering to share its expertise in promoting the spirituality of dialogue specifically in Quiapo,” said Ignacio, who is also rector of the St. John the Baptist Church, also known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene.

The Silsilah Dialogue Movement has been promoting dialogue and peace in Mindanao and in the world for more than 20 years.

With the opening of the Quiapo Center and the parish ministry on September 20, it is hoped that interfaith dialogue and cooperation will flourish between and among Muslims and Christians in the community.

“It is about time that Silsilah spreads the concept of the spirituality of dialogue among Muslims and Christians in Quiapo, knowing that Quiapo is a melting pot of people coming from different cultures and is a center for trade,” Fatima Allian, a Silsilah volunteer, said.

“Hopefully people will slowly embrace this concept and make Quiapo a common ground for understanding and better relations among them,” she added.

Among those who witnessed the event were Dr. Alfonso Tagliaferri, First Secretary and Deputy Head of Mission of the Italian Embassy; Fr. Carlos Reyes, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Interreligious Dialogue of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines; Marites Guingona of Peacemakers’ Circle; and Dr. Lilian Sison of Religions for Peace, of the University of Santo Thomas Graduate School.

Other guests included sisters from the Oblates of Notre Dame and the Little Sisters of Jesus, Carmelite Fathers from the Institute of Spirituality for Asia, Silsilah friends in Metro Manila, the parish staff and representatives from institutions and communities in the Quiapo area.

Msgr. Ignacio, Fr. Sebastiano D’ambra, PIME and Dr. Tagliaferri did the symbolic cutting of the ribbon.

Silsilah alumnus Mr. Hadje Sadje, Silsilah volunteers Ms. Myrna Rosales and Ms. Fatima Allian and Aleem Said Basheer from the Quiapo Muslim community delivered messages of hope and challenge for interreligious initiatives in Quiapo.

Norbert Solina, from the Silsilah Dialogue Movement main office in Zamboanga City, will coordinate the activities of the Quiapo Center. (CBCPNews)