Panaji, Dec 1: An inspiring convergence of faiths occurred at an inter-religious gathering organized by the Apostolate of inter-religious dialogue of the archdiocese of Goa and Daman. The event, held amidst the ongoing Novena preparations for the feast of St Francis Xavier in Old Goa on November 29, centered around the theme 'Care for creation, human obligation.'
This year, the feast of St Francis Xavier will be celebrated on December 4, with the solemn feast Mass will be presided over by Bishop Sebastiao Mascarenhas, bishop of Baroda diocese.
Representatives and dignitaries teamed up to dust off the dusty terrarium, so that the scenery of nature inside it, is clearly visible.
Dr Shefali Kale, assistant professor, department of philosophy at St Xavier’s College Mapusa, Goa, Nazrana Banu Shaikh, assistant professor, department of political science of Carmel College for Women, Nuvem, Goa and Perci Fernandes, an educationist and a catechist at Guardian Angel Church, Sanvordem, Goa were the speakers representing, Hindu, Muslim and Catholic faith respectively.
Dr Shefali Kale, emphasized the inter-connectedness of all creation with the divine. She spoke about the concept of 'Dharma' that extends beyond duty, defining it as a cosmic responsibility to maintain balance and seek contentment. According to Dr Kale, this responsibility includes safeguarding and nurturing all life forms, animate and inanimate.
Nazrana Banu Shaikh, underscored the profound emphasis on environmental stewardship in Islamic teachings. She emphasized how Islam provides a comprehensive framework for leading a righteous and purposeful life.
Perci Fernandes drew attention to Pope Francis's ‘Laudato Si’ encyclical, urging participants to adopt the principles of responsible stewardship. She emphasized the importance of the 'Reduce, Recycle, Reuse' approach in environmental conservation efforts.
Novices of the congregation of the Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King (FMCK) and congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (SFN) invoked God’s blessings through a prayer dance. Multilingual choir led by Fr John Fernandes, assistant to the parish priest of St Anne’s Church Parra sang hymns and bhajans. Others items included in the meet are Garba dance by the students of St Xavier’s Academy, old goa, skit by the students of Holy Cross Convent School, Bastora and mime by the students of St Xavier’s College, Mapusa. Students reflected the community's commitment to environmental consciousness through artistic expression.
Fr Ramiro Luis, member of the committee for the Apostolate of inter-religious dialogue, welcomed the gathering. Lynessa Linson anchored the event while member of the Apostolate of inter-religious dialogue Sr Godwina Pereira HC, thanked all. Alisha D’Cunha led the pledge to protect and take care of the environment. The event spearheaded by Fr Agnelo Pinheiro, the convenor of the Apostolate of Inter-religious dialogue, aimed to foster unity and a shared commitment to environmental preservation among people of different faiths.
Fr Denis Fernandes, Episcopal vicar for north, Fr Caetano Fernandes, incharge of the Apostolate of Ecumenism and others were present.