It was a celebration of spiritual and cultural diversity as representatives of different faith traditions came together for the launching of Sacred Springs, a dialogue institute of spirituality and sustainability located in the Loyola School of Theology (LST) in Manila.
Themed “Shared Spirit Healing Sacred Earth”, the event on March 22 opened with the blessing of the Zen garden in LST’s Laudato si’ Terrain led by LST President Fr Jose Quilongquilong SJ. This was followed by intercessory prayers from different communities. Scholastics Changmo Cho SJ from Korea, Pipat Muepae SJ of the Karen Tribe in Thailand and Paul Tu Ja SJ from Myanmar and Fr Ignatius Tambudzai SJ from Zimbabwe recited spontaneous prayers in their mother tongue. Each prayer was an expression of gratitude to Ruach Elohim, the creative Spirit of God who sustains life in creation.
Sacred Springs has a threefold mission: to promote and foster the recovery of the sense of the sacred; to restore our fragmented earth communities; and to recover our ecological well-being. These three goals are incorporated into the vision of Sacred Springs, which is of a world where interrelationships are nurtured through true dialogue – dialogue that is geared toward protecting and healing the Earth, our common home.
In his welcome remarks, Fr Quilongquilong commended Sacred Springs for enriching the theological mission of LST by making dialogue a reality. He said that dialogue is one way to discover how best to help the world. Only through true dialogue can people join hands to heal the earth. He went on to expound that “a spring sets the image of movement”, the movement of flowing water. Since the mission of Sacred Springs is dialogue, the institute contains “a movement of an encounter – personal and religious experiences; a movement of engagement in shared responsibilities and inheritance; and a movement of entrustment, which is to offer ourselves to God.”
Several books were launched together with the launching of Sacred Springs, the first of which was the e-book of the Sustainability of Life Conference titled “A Call to Dialogue on the Sustainability of Life in the ASEAN Context” organized by the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific last August. The book contains the papers and presentations presented at the conference. A printed copy of the e-book was blessed by Fr Adolfo Nicolás SJ who, during his speech before the blessing, challenged the Church’s reluctance to celebrate creation. He said that the mystery of creation is one that the Church has somehow overlooked and although “the Church does not have a single feast of creation”, the mystery of creation remains very important. “LST could help Rome … in unblocking the mystery of creation” through dialogue, suggested Fr Nicolás.
Another book launched at the event was “Creation is Spirited and Sacred: An Asian Indigenous Mysticism of Sacred Sustainability”. Written by Fr Jojo Fung SJ, JCAP Coordinator for Jesuit Companions in Indigenous Ministry and Sacred Springs Executive Director, the book is inspired by the spiritual experiences of the indigenous peoples of Myanmar, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand.
The third book launched was the Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation’s “Breath of a Stone God: A Journey of Awakening in Faith to Interfaith Dialogue” by Marites Guingona-Africa. The Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation is a programme that engages in interfaith dialogue and peace building.
Finally Sacred Springs Chairman Fr Albert Alejo SJ read some poems from his book “Nabibighani: Mga Saling Tula ng Kapwa Nilikha”. Nabibighani is a Tagalog word that means mesmerized, captivated, drawn or magnetised.
An interfaith blessing closed the celebration and the participants left eager to engage in dialogue with different cultures, religions, spiritualities and traditions with the shared goal of healing Mother Earth.