The St. Thomas Aquinas Forum 2019, organized by the Institute of Religion, tackled the theme “Emerging Challenges in Interreligious Dialogue: Prospects in Asia,” as a response to the rising tolls of indifferences toward people of beliefs. In cooperation with John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue based in Rome, this year’s forum, held on April 26, 2019 at the Buenaventura G. Paredes, O.P. Building, aspired to rekindle the spirit of peaceful co-existence between religions and their different denominations.

Russel Berrie Foundation President Angelica Berrie, delivered the keynote address. In her speech, she highlighted the inevitable task of reaching out to other beliefs and forge strong relationships with them – a thrust that her foundation has been working on for ten years now.

The Russel Berrie Foundation, according to its website, carries on the values and passions of the late Russell Berrie, through promoting the continuity of the Jewish people, and fostering religious understanding and pluralism.

In the second part of the conference, Asian Women of Faith Network Chair and Religions for Peace-Philippines Secretary General Dr. Lilian J. Sison who spoke on behalf of the lay Catholic Movement, University of the Philippines Institute for Islamic Studies Dean Dr. Macrina Morados, Venerable Miaoxin of the Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple in Manila and Ms. Yogita Sharma from the Hindu community, offered some insights on how religions can conduct meaningful dialogues with each other and help achieve a peaceful and harmonious world. The forum was participated in by different religious leaders, representatives from universities and government agencies from all over the country and in Asia.

After the whole day forum, the guests were treated to a campus tour with stops at the Arch of the Centuries, the Benavides and the Quadricentennial Parks, the Main Building and the Heritage Library of the Miguel de Benavides Library. This was followed by a formal fellowship dinner hosted by the Institute of Religion attended by the participants and speakers. This was graced by the presence of UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P., and the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines His Excellency Most Rev. Gabriele Giordano Caccia, D.D., who gave an inspirational message.

The Thomas Aquinas Forum is a yearly academic conference, which aims to participate in the public discussion on timely and relevant topics concerning issues that affect religion and theological thinking such as the relationship of the state and the Church, ethics, social teachings and many others.