Interfaith Cooperation Flourishes in Town of Metangula

July 26, 2004

Source: Maryknoll'

On July 26, 2004 Maryknoll posted an article by Mark Gruenke, a member of the Catholic community in Mozambique, about interfaith cooperation there. He writes, "To celebrate World Youth Day, our parish in Mozambique decided to place a new cross atop Mount Chifuli, the mountain that overlooks our town of Metangula. The older cross was too small to be easily seen from our church. We asked Saide, a Muslim and a master carpenter, to prepare poles and sheet metal in the form of a huge cross so we could transport it to the mountaintop. The day arrived, and 50 parishioners assembled at the church. Our group of pilgrims included a number of Anglican youth, as well as the master carpenter himself and his young Muslim assistant. Saide said he wanted to help mount the cross to assure it was done well. Interfaith respect and cooperation among the religious groups in our town is not something new. It is the result of years of good leadership. Anglican and Catholic friendship strengthened during a 16-year-long civil war, when Catholic priests were not allowed to visit the many small communities in central Mozambique. In the face of such isolation, our bishop, Dom Luís Gonzaga Ferreira da Silva (now retired), encouraged Catholics cut off from pastoral attention to participate in local Anglican worship services. The parish team in Metangula follows the good example of Bishop Gonzaga. Our Maryknoll pastor, Father Kenneth Thesing, makes frequent trips to visit and celebrate Mass in the interior communities. On several occasions Muslim leaders have asked him to deliver the Koran to a Muslim community that lacked its own copy. He willingly does so, realizing the importance of living in respect and harmony with all faiths."