Manila (AsiaNews) "Let us not wait for peace to happen but instead work to achieve it based on justice," said Fr Roberto Layson, parish priest in Pikit (Central Mindanao) and head of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate's Inter-Religious Dialogue. The occasion was this year's Week of Peace in Mindanao.
The initiative, which is sponsored by the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines and the Ulemas is scheduled to run from November 25 till December 2. It will involve representatives from both Christian and Muslim communities. Its theme is: "A Reconciled Family, Agent of Reconciliation".
According to Father Layson, each individual has a role, as peace loving people, as bearers of peace in their own communities. "We have neither silver nor gold," he said, "but peace will be the precious legacy we can leave behind for the future generation." He urged people "to pray incessantly in our homes, chapels and churches that peace will finally reign in our homeland."
Peace is what everybody in Mindanao is longing for, a land marred by conflict pitting the government against separatist rebels.
For Father Layson, all sectors and institutions must become actively involved if this dream is to be fulfilled and they must be ready to pay the price if peace is to come true.
He challenged Christians, Muslims and indigenous people to celebrate this 'Week of Peace' by reflecting on why it does not exist in Mindanao, urging them to find ways and means to achieve it.
Muslim leaders in the region, which has seen violent inter-religious clashes, have urged collaboration and tolerance, the only path to development and peace.
The congregation was set up by two missionaries of Mary Immaculate with the aim of supporting education in the archipelago, torn apart by years of separatist struggle. With time, peace and interfaith dialogue became the foremost mission of these sisters.