4th Annual Inter-religious meeting: Lifting up our joy to heaven as one

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This was the theme for the 4th Annual Inter-religious meeting held at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre at 3:00 in the afternoon on October 27, 2014.

It was attended by the General representative of the Archdiocesan Clergy, Fr. Ignatius Ho Van Xuan, Fr. Francis Xavier Bao Loc, Chair of the Archdiocesan  Interreligious Dialogue Commission, Fr. Ninh Hoang Dinh who represented Bishop Stephen Tri BuuThien, Head of the Inter-religious Dialogue and Ecumenical Episcopal Conference of Vietnam, Fr. Peter Hien, Director of the Pastoral Institute, priests, religious, brothers, monks, nuns, seminarians and guests representing numerous organizations like the Legion of Mary in the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City.

It was also attended by representatives coming from the Religious Council of Baha'i Spirituality for Vietnam, from the Cao Dai, Tay Ninh Holy See and Tien Thien Church, priests and members of the Organisation for Universalizing Cao Dai Teaching, representatives of Ming Ly, monks from Ngoc Thanh Monastic, pastors from the Seventh-day Adventist and Evangelical churches and the HoaHao Buddhistsin HCMC.

The 4th Annual Inter-religious encounter was envisioned to build understanding, solidarity and brotherhood among religious believers, while contributing to the good of society. It was also commemorating the 50th anniversary of establishment of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (1964-2014) and the 145th year birthday of Mahatma Gandhi (1869-2014).

Part I:  Spiritual Joy:

First, the assembly recalled the three annual inter-religious gathering encounters (2011 - 2013) through video clips.

After the introduction of all the guests, Fr. Ignatius Ho Van Xuan conveyed the letter of Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc to the assembly of the 4th Annual Interreligious Dialogue. The three resounding beats on the gongs and drumsof children from Trung Chanh Parish marked the lively opening session of the 4th annual Inter-faith Encounter.

It was followed by songs and dances presented by members from different faiths such as the Cao Dai, Hoa Hao Buddhist and Catholics. The Hoa Hao Buddhist sang poetry from the passages of the book entitled “Thunder”. It is the book of religious teaching by the founder, Huynh Phu So. The song "Give each other pleasure" was composed by Thai Tuan, a Cao Dai believer and Bui Duc Hoa, a Catholic respectively. It was sung by the Cao Dai members.

While taking a break, the assembly viewed the exhibition "Cymbals and Ancient Pots" and photos of the Inter-faith dialogue activities of the past years.

Part II: The joy of living Faith

Sister Cecilia Nguyen Phung Ai Thien of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary shared her experience about her joy meeting with religious believers of Asia in Ayutthaya, Thailand. She was attending the 1st conference for Inter-Faith Dialogue of religious leaders for peace in the community of Southeast Asian Nations last September 25 -29, 2014. Its theme was "Religious Tolerance for Peace" and it was organized by the Thai authorities and the Buddhist University.

Pastor Tran Thanh, the General Secretary of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Vietnam shared the "Joy of Christianity according to Apostle Paul's vision:  Glad to be loved by God and we need to keep the joy in the Lord”.

A Catholic nun, Sister Hong Van of Our Lady of Calvary community who serves the poor patients as a physician, and Mong Tuyen, a Cao Dai nun from the Organisation for Universalizing Cao Dai Teaching, exchanged with each other the “joy of living faith” in their chosen way of life as celibates dedicating their lives to God.  The assembly heard a firsthand sharing of the joyful experiences of two persons living a consecrated life.

The program continued with some song and dance numbers from the Legion of Mary, the Pius X choir, and a special rendition of the song “The Joy Being Lifted up to Heaven” written by two composers Thoai Tuan (Cao Dai) and Bui Duc Ha (Catholic). It was presented by both Catholic and Cao Dai seminarians.

Part III: Prayer

This was the culmination of the Interreligious Encounter. The representatives of the Baha'i religion, Cao Dai, Minh Ly, Buddhists, Evangelical church, Hoa Hao Buddhists, Brethren Church and Catholics took turns to pray for peace and solidarity.

In closing, Rev. Fr. Francis Xavier Bao Loc sincerely thanked the Organizing Committee and all the benefactors who helped to make the 4th Annual Interreligious Dialogue Encounter a great success. He said, “our presence here has contributed to the uplifting joy we have shared together and the deeply felt conviction that true joy emanates from within and that enables us to soar into the heights”.

The song entitled "Peace" of St. Francis of Assisi culminated the joyful encounter of the 4th Annual Inter-religious Dialogue at 7:00 in the evening.  The whole assembly then was invited to a delicious vegetarian dinner in a spirit of gratitude.

Sr. Fenecia
4th Annual Inter-religious meeting: Lifting up our joy to heaven as one