On June 7th & 8th, JPII Leader Fr. Mak Caesar Abagna (Cohort XI, Ghana), currently a Research Fellow in Rome, held a workshop on The Principals and Skills of Dialogue for the priests in his community in Ghana. This initiative is supported by Alumni Grants Program for JPII Leaders. In attendance were 53 priests as well as the local Bishop! Participants came from the breadth and length of the dioceses. Among them were missionaries from other African countries, from India and Ireland and they were all of different age groups.
For this educational training, Fr. Mak Caesar collaborated with Fr. Augustine Adams, Diocesan Chairman of the Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, the priest in his diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatnaga who is responsible for ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. In their diocese, an interreligious dialogue commission has been formed, so the workshop was to provide formal dialogue education to the leaders officially working on that commission to make their work more effective.
For many participants, it was their first serious introduction into this whole idea of dialogue and this showed up during question time: participants freely aired their doubts about Interreligious Dialogue and fears that IRD can lead to compromises. “They are our frontliners and main collaborators,’’ says Fr. Mak Caesar, “it is important they, as the leaders, have the right information, and understand what the dialogue is about. The Catholic Church has developed her principles to guide IRD. These principles are what we want to train our people on.”
Fr. Mak Caesar explained that in order to make the workshop more practical, they brought on board people who are already involved in IRD and have acquired some practical skills for dealing with delicate conversations and can share their experiences with the participants. The day’s facilitator was Fr. Boniface Masooayele who did an amazing job. The whole presentation was lively and attracted great involvement and participation in the form of questions, contributions and discussions. He handled the questions of participants and Fr. Mak Caesar was happily surprised by his level of in-depth knowledge,”He is a Catholic priest yet his knowledge of the holy Quran was positive and edifying.”
To learn during the workshop that, from the beginning, Muslims coexisted peacefully with other religions, particularly with Christianity, dispelled participants’ fear of engaging with Muslim believers and at the same time showed that goal of peaceful coexistence with Islam is possible. The next workshop will have Muslim representatives and Christians interact.
We are very proud of Fr. Mak Caesar and support his good work. May God bless your project and we are excited to hear more about the next workshop!