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(ANS – Rome) – From today, 30 July until Saturday 4 August Salesians, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and other lay people and religious their collaborators will be involved in “Study Days on Salesian presence among Muslims” at the Salesianum in the Generalate. There will be talks and discussions in order to understand the situation better and to plan for the future.
During the present six-year period there have been SDB-FMA Study Days in all the continents organised by the Departments for the Missions of the two Congregations on the subject of “The first proclamation.” On this occasion reflection will be on the subject of Muslims and under consideration will be not only the historical Islamic context but also traditionally Christian areas where there is now an increasing number of Muslims.
It is clear that reflection on this specific aspect of the Salesian presence is now essential: SDB and FMA are to be found in a great variety of contexts with large Muslim populations, as in many European countries – France, Italy, Austria... – as well as in Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Tunisia, Sudan, Kenya, Chad, Nigeria, Eritrea, Mali, Togo, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Albania
It also needs to be taken into consideration that young Muslims are to be found in many Salesian centres in all the continents. In these situations a credible witness is necessary by the Salesian community and the whole Christian community so that, especially in places where the explicit proclamation is not possible, there may be a single form of proclamation (Porta Fidei 9).
According to the programme for the Study Days there will be a first part dedicated to an analysis of the situation; a second of shared study and reflection; and a third to draw up the conclusions. Work will for the most part follow the work-group method. Fr Alfred Maravilla and Sr Loes Maike are the moderators and with the help of some facilitators, they will coordinate the group work.
On the final day Fr Maria Arokiam Kanaga, Councillor for the South Asia Region, will present a reflection on the Preventive System as the basic criterion for Salesian presence and activities in a Muslim context. Other speakers at the Study Days will be from outside Salesian contexts so as to provide other perspectives and held those taking part to see new points of view.
Specific and practical topics to be dealt with include the history of Christian-Muslim relationships; Christian witness as a prophetic presence; Christian values to which Muslims are more sensitive; and the advice of the experts in inter-religious dialogue. After each talk there will be an opportunity for “reactions” and the possibility to make new evaluations.
Later the Acts of the Study Days will be published in various languages.