In celebration of the 2020 Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples, the University of Santo Tomas Center for Theology, Religious Studies and Ethics (CTRSE) organized the online symposium series about the vision, thoughts, and life of Bishop Bienvenido S. Tudtud: ‘the Father of Interreligious Dialogue in the Philippines.’

Bishop Benny or Tatay Bido (1931-1987) as he was affectionately called by his flock and friends, is known as the Father of Interreligious dialogue in the Philippines.  He was appointed as the first Bishop of the newly created prelature of Marawi, a jurisdiction consisting of only four parishes, with more than 90% Muslim population on April 25, 1977.  Inspired by Pope Paul VI, and as mandated by his appointment as Bishop of Marawi, he would dedicate his life and ministry to pursuing harmonious Christian, Muslim and Indigenous relations through dialogue.

            The prelate was a man of dialogue, simplicity, humility with a profound love for his Muslim and indigenous sisters and brothers.  Thus, symposium organizers find it is most fitting to remember and celebrate his life and visions of peace through dialogue in this year of Interreligious Dialogue, Ecumenism and Indigenous Peoples. 

The online Symposium Series which is already on its third installment with the first held in June, is the Center’s tribute to Tatay Bido who selflessly served the people of Mindanao.  The series also celebrates the seeds of his friendship and the hope he lit in his ministry, and allows the participants to learn from his thoughts and deeds, the approaches towards dialogue and harmony.

It is also the Center’s contribution to the celebration of the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines.  

In line with the Season of Creation celebration, the third symposium in the series, held in September 2020, was about “Dialogue of Life and Faith in Ecology.” The earth as a common home provides the landscape, in the words of Tatay Bido, for the Muslims and Christians to offer themselves toward dialogue in order to “discover the face of God in the other,” and as a consequence “to rise above prejudices” and “build happy memories for tomorrow.”

The symposium featured key environmentalist speakers, namely, Religions for Peace Philippines Secretary-General and UST Office of International Relations and Programs Director Dr. Lilian J. Sison, Global Catholic Climate Movement-Pilipinas Chairperson Fr. John Leydon, SSC, and Eco Theologian, Missionary Society of St. Columban, JPIC Priorities Researcher, Columban Ecological Institute Officer Fr. Sean McDonagh, SSC.

The second installment was held in August with the theme “Maayong Good Morning…Friends of Tatay Bido Reunion.” “Maayong good morning,” the favorite cordial greetings of Tatay Bido at any time of the day, speaks of his profound respect for, at the same time, welcoming the other in his cheerful smiles. 

The symposium was the unpacking of the various layers, both personal and interpersonal, of the “Maayong good morning” as a greeting to invite others for a genuine dialogue of faith and life in the vision and life of Tatay Bido through the lens of his closest friends. 

Fr. Carlos Reyes, the co-founder of the UniHarmony Partners Manila and the Minister of the Archdiocese of Manila Ministry of Interfaith and Ecumenical Affairs gave the welcome remarks.

            The Inaugural Symposium, held in June 2020, featured the experiences and testimonies of Bishop, Prelature of St. Mary in Marawi Most Rev. Edwin dela Peña, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary Formation Center Lay Member Ms. Venus Guibone, and Ranao Muslim-Christian Movement for Dialogue and Peace Chairman Dr.Moctar I. Matuan,  

CBCP Commission on Interreligious Dialogue Executive Secretary Fr. Sebstiano D’Ambra, PIME, delivered the welcome remarks, while UST CTRSE Director Rev. Fr. Jannel Abogado, O.P., delivered the closing remarks.

            The online series was organized by the CTRSE in cooperation with the UniHarmony Partners’ Manila, the Global Climate Catholic Movement-Pilipinas, the Prelature of St. Mary’s in Marawi, CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue and Religions for Peace Philippines.  

The members of the secretariat areDr.Pablito Baybado, Jr. of the UST-CTRSE, Fr. Rex Rocamora, SSC of the Columban missionaries, and John Din of the GCCM-Pilipinas.

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