“Let us allow our hearts to be touched... God’s caresses give us peace and strength. We need His caresses. God is full of love! God is peace: let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world.”
In his Urbi et Orbi address for Christmas 2013, Pope Francis describes the response of the disciples of Emmaus when Jesus touched their hearts: “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (cf. Lk 24:32). Travelling from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they had spoken with him, listened to him, invited him to stay and finally recognised him in the breaking of the bread.
Speaking with people of goodwill, listening to them, opening the Scriptures to them – this is all part of the programme of the Emmaus College of Theology established by Father Sebastiano D’Ambra on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. But the college now needs its own purpose-built centre in which, as he puts it, “a new generation of Catholic leaders can be trained.” The aim is to equip them “to live and promote the culture of dialogue as a path to peace, with particular emphasis on interreligious dialogue.” It is a state-recognised college with the facility to grant the degree of Bachelor of Theology. And it fills a much-needed gap, for there is a great lack of soundly trained teachers of religion in the Filipino state schools, particularly in the area of comparative religious studies. And yet this is vital to the survival of society in a country where radical Islam is fracturing the relationship between Christians and Muslims, and growing steadily in influence.
Father Sebastiano is asking our help towards the cost of this building (AUD$196,500). The college will help unlock the Scriptures for future generations and thus enable many more hearts to be touched by God’s love.
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