News Release

Dagupan Church Leaders Celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week

Leaders from different faith based organizations in Dagupan came together to celebrate the World Interfaith Harmony Week on 17 February 2016.  The “Interfaith Dinner” held at the Stake (diocese) Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was jointly organized by Father Alexis M. Libao from the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, under the direction of Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, and Public Affairs representative, GiGi C. Karganilla.

Photo by Desmond Manaois and Wendelle Trono

(STANDING L-R:  Haidi Fajardo, Oliva Arzadon, Elder and Sister Davenport, Sukhdev Sing, Chairman Mangontawar Millan Sultan, Filipina Delos Santos, Fr. Alexis Libao Jr., Rochelle Tamayo, Pastor Joedy Lim, Pres. Rollroyce Peralta, Pastor Fausto Vidal, GiGi C. Karganilla, Pastor James Paul Tomboc, and Bro. Robin Navarro)

(SEATED L-R:  Imam Faizal Idjipan, Brother Dionisio B. Espiritu, Rev. Rommel P. Barte, Rev. Ronald V. Valencia, Pres. Greg. A. Karganilla, Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, Elder Raul Villanueva, Rev. Fr. Israel S. Olivo, Pastor Ricardo A. Victoria, and Paramjit Doal)

Leaders from the Roman Catholic Church, Dagupan Chinese Baptist Church, Christian Evangelical Ministries, United Methodist Church, Islam, Guru Nanak Indian Sikh Temple, New Life in Christ, Four Square Church, Iglesia Filipina Independiente-Pangasinan, Fellowship of Baptist Churches, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, came together to foster friendship and appreciate the unique contributions of the different faiths.

In his keynote address, Archbishop Villegas emphasized the theme of the World Interfaith Harmony Week based on two fundamental religious commandments:  “Love of God, and Love of the Neighbor,” and “Love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbor.” 

He illustrated these ideals by asking 3 questions.  First, “Humanity, what makes you happy?”  It is our love of God which will inspire us to do good to our neighbor.  Second, “Humanity, what makes you afraid?”  It is sin because it will separate us from God.  Third, “Humanity, where are you going?”  Everlasting Life, which is the reward for those who truly love God and those who do good to others.  He acknowledged the positive influence of the interfaith groups and encouraged them to be a powerful force in bringing peace and harmony to their communities.

A spirit of love and harmony was strongly felt during the gathering.

Mangontawar Millan Sultan, Chairman of the Muslim Community said, “We appreciate the event. Sana po sa 2017 lumawak pa po.  Ituwid and kamalian. Paigtingin o palawakin ang kapayapaan at hindi karahasan.” (We hope to expand the event this 2017. We need to right the wrong.  We need to spread peace, not violence.)

Rev. Rommel P. Barte from First United Methodist Church added, “The relevance of the Interfaith Dinner is we build up strong relationships with other religious leaders.  Such relationships could be an integral part of understanding and supporting each other as religious leaders who can impact change.”

Rev. Fr. Israel S. Olivo, Iglesia Filipina Independencia shared, “In the light of faith, personally, I have seen and felt the living presence of POGI – Presence of God Inside – through the participation of various civic and religious leaders who attended the fellowship.  It was a manifestation that the Holy Spirit is working on us.  For sure, heaven and earth have been happily blessed in their quench for unity among churches, setting aside religious differences on matters of beliefs, practices, and disciplines in order to work together in respect and harmonious relationship.  And therefore fulfill what Jesus Christ prayed for “that they may all be one, even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they may also be in us.” (John 17:21.)

Haidi F. Fajardo, Public Affairs Manager of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shared a video from Uniharmony Partners Manila highlighting the different activities held during the World Interfaith Harmony Week, 1-7 February 2016.

Mr. Dionisio B. Espiritu, Chairman of the New Life in Christ Four Square Church was the emcee.  Elder Raul Villanueva, Area Seventy from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave the closing message and warmly thanked all those who attended.  He encouraged all to be filled with love, mercy, and compassion for all regardless of religious beliefs.

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