IR, SIMBAHAYAN hold advocacy conference on peacebuilding through dialogue and communion

Around 200 university students, academic staff of the UST-Institute of Religion, and invited experts gathered at this year’s Advocacy Conference on April 19.

The chosen theme “Accompanying the Youth Toward Building Peace and Becoming Global Citizens” led students to appreciate their identities and capacities to build peace through dialogue and communion.

A roundtable discussion in the morning led by UST Communications Bureau Director Philippe Jose S. Hernandez provided the framework for understanding “Global Diversity.”

Jamila-Aisha P. Sanguila, a Salzburg Global Fellow, followed with a talk on “The Call Toward Global Peace Through Dialogue and Communion.”

The founder of “Women Empowered to Act for Dialogue and Peace” highlighted the role of dialogue in peacebuilding. Sanguila cited the efforts of “Silsilah Movement” in promoting a “culture of dialogue” in Mindanao, southern Philippines.

Italian missionary and PIME Father Sebastiano D’Ambra founded the movement when he came to the Philippines in 1977. 

Since 1850, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions or PIME helped develop “genuine Catholic communities through interreligious dialogue and social justice.”

The day-long Advocacy Conference also featured personal sharing on the challenges of being global Christians. Invited sharers were Edwin T. Valles, Advisory Board Member of Courage Philippines, and Maria Lea P. Dasigan, Campus Minister of Saint Pedro Poveda College.   

In the afternoon, UST Philosophy Professor Jove Jim S. Aguas gave an exposition titled “On Being a Global Christian.” 

Aguas said today, Christians are still being called to “follow the teachings of Christ and live a Christ-centered life.” They must be “morally responsible” and “committed to peace, solidarity, and the common good,” he added.

CICM Father Earl Antoine Alan C. Cura followed with a talk on “Global Citizens in Dialogue and Communion.” CICM or the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was founded in Belgium in 1862.

Fr. Cura cautioned young people on the current global economic model rooted in consumerism. He affirmed Pope Francis’ call for “active participation in renewing” and ushering “a new beginning” to a globalized world steeped in fear and indifference. 

The Advocacy Conference is the university’s response to Pope Francis’ call to “change through an educational process aimed at universal solidarity,” said event chair and IR faculty member, Maria Cecilia Balajadia. The conference also echoes the ideals of SDG 16 of building peaceful, just, and strong institutions. 

She added that the conference “challenges global citizens to build a world where peace reigns not as mere ideal but as a lived experience.”

The IR-led event was co-organized by the UST-Simbahayan Community Development Office.

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