The Spirit of Dialogue in Southern Philippines

The Custody of St. Anthony of Padua in the Philippines is one with the Church and the Order in celebrating the 8th centenary of the meeting of St. Francis and Sultan Al-Malik Al-Kamil. One of the highlights of the series of year-long activities is the interfaith forum held on April 2, 2019 in Tairan (Basilan) at San Roque Parish, a vibrant multi-ethnic and multi-religious community, administered by the Franciscans.

The main talks were given by two scholars in the field of dialogue: Br. Antonio Rosales, OFM and Ustad Garson Hamja.  Br. Antonio narrated the encounter between the Sultan and the Saint from the Christian perspective and how it influenced the paradigm of mission as dialogue. Ustad Hamha gave a brief biography of Sultan Al-Malik Al-Kamil and the traits that made him beloved by his subjects and Christians alike.

The forum was attended by the local Christian laity, friars of the Custody, members of the Order of Secular Franciscans, local clergy and students. From the Muslim community, many of its members, leaders and local politicians were present.

The gathering was enriched by other activities including interpretative dances of the Muslim and Christian youth, a photo-exhibit featuring the chronology of the Franciscan presence in Mindanao and the unveiling of the commemorative mural of the encounter.