The three sessions were held virtually on three consecutive Thursday evenings during November via Zoom. Asking the question ‘What gives hope to people of faith and how do they cope with the challenges of the covid-19 crisis?’ the sessions aimed to promote dialogue including listening and sharing opportunities among people of different faiths across the West Midlands. Participants were invited to share their experiences of the pandemic, specific challenges their communities have faced and stories of inspiration.
In addition to facilitating the meetings on Zoom and supporting the technology which enabled the three sessions to take place, Mauricio helped with the promotion of the events and managed social media advertising. He helped arrange the format of the sessions and was involved in contacting local partner organisations in order to arrange guest speakers.
Amrick Singh, Director of the Nishkam Centre in Birmingham and Nikhat Panjwani KSIMC from Birmingham were invited to speak at the first event held on Thursday 12th November. The second event on Thursday 19th November saw Mohammad Hammad from the Iqra Centre in Coventry and Fr. Paul Burch, Parish Priest at All Souls’ RC Church in Coventry reflect on the Covid 19 pandemic and how its impacted them and their communities. Finally, asked to speak at the third and final event on Thursday 26th November was Mahmooda Qureshi representing the Faith and Belief Forum WM and Illaben Patel Shree Ram Mandir from Walsall.
One of the participants said after the third and final event, ‘Thank you for organising these evenings. They were very nicely done and very natural which made a great environment for everyone to feel comfortable. It makes me realise what a privilege it is to be here in the West Midlands’.
Mauricio explains ‘The sessions were a great success! People of different faiths, cultures and backgrounds were able to come together to share their thoughts on how we can best go about facilitating relationships with people of other faiths going forward. The guest speakers were very engaging and spoke very openly and honestly .The three sessions were very well attended and as such we plan to arrange two more sessions in February 2021.”
The Commission for Interreligious Dialogue is a body within the archdiocese of Birmingham tasked with maintaining positive relationships with people of all faiths and cultures. They also work hard to promote mutual understanding, respect and collaboration between Catholics and the followers of other religious traditions.
Mauricio Silva has been the Columban Interreligious Dialogue Coordinator since 2017. His main focus is on building positive relationships between people of different faith traditions and cultures and supporting grassroots initiatives that embrace and celebrate the wonderful diversity of the city of Birmingham.