Friday, February 26, 2010

IFFAsia Mission Intership - Mission as Witness and Dialogue

12 interns of the Institute of Formation, Fondacio Asia, hailing from China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan and Malaysia attended a 3 day workshop-cum-course (from February 25 - 27) on theology of religions and interreligious dialogue conducted by Fr. Michael Chua, Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Archdiocesan Ministry of Ecumenical and Interreligous Affairs (AMEIA) and parish priest of the Church of Visitation, Seremban. They were hosted by families living in Bukit Rasah area of Seremban.

The course introduced the interns to the Catholic theology of religions,i.e. the way in which the Catholic Church perceives and relates with other religions. On the second day of the programme, they were also invited to reflect on the relationship between proclamation and dialogue within the larger context of evangelisation. This was followed by a session which helped them explore personal ethnocentrism and obstacles to dialogue. The last day of the programme introduced the students to the four fold typology of dialogue and challenged them to find ways of meaningfully applying the principles they had learned during the course in their own respective home environment.

Apart from the various talks and workshops, they were also brought on a study tour of a Sikh Gurdwara and a Hindu Temple. Upon their return, Fr. Chua helped them to develop a methodology of observation, reflection and analysis which could be used for future visits.

On the second day of the programme, Dr. Patricia Martinez, the first non-Muslim Malaysian to have received a PhD in Islam, gave them a brief summary of the religion of Islam, its main pillars, and shared her own personal experience of studying Islam as a non-Muslim.

The interns will remain in Seremban until Sunday, February 28. On the last day of their stay, they will be assigned to several upper secondary classes of the Sunday School to allow them to share their own personal experiences and to interact with the students.

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