CBCP to confer its highest award on Silsilah founder

June 7, 2024 - 2:29 PM
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Fr. Sebastian D’Ambra of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement speaks at the 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy at the UST Pavilion in Manila, January 17, 2017. (File photo via CBCP News)

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) will confer its highest award, the Bishop Jorge Barlin Golden Cross, on a leading figure in interreligious dialogue.

CBCP Secretary General Msgr. Bernardo Pantin said the bishops agreed to give the distinction to Fr. Sebastian D’Ambra, founder of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement.

He said the award is in recognition of the Italian priest’s “outstanding and generous service” to the Church, “exemplifying the ideals” of the first Filipino bishop.

D’Ambra was the first executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue when it was formed in 1990, and he served the post for many years.

The 82-year old priest from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) has been in Mindanao for over 40 years now.

His Silsilah project led to the creation of the Emmaus Dialogue Community (EDC), a Catholic movement to promote interreligious dialogue that began also in 1987.

In 2020, he also founded the Emmaus College of Theology (ECT) to support the vocations of young Catholics in a spirit of dialogue with people of different cultures and religions.

Pantin said the EDC and ECT “has fostered a profound and enduring dialogue for peace between Muslims and Christians”.

The Silsilah movement has won national and international peace awards, such as the Goi Peace Award in 2013 from the Goi Peace Foundation, a Japanese foundation engaged in the promotion of peace.

In 2014, it received the prestigious World Interfaith Harmony Week Award, sponsored and supported by King Abdullah II of Jordan.

D’Ambra will formally receive the CBCP award during the bishops’ 128th plenary assembly in July.