If I were told before the Marawi War had started in May 2017 that young MUSLIM graduates would live in our Novitiate and ALFI (Alphonsian Lay Formation Institute) buildings within the compound of the CATHOLIC Redemptorist Church in Iligan, I would have told that person, “Hey, in what planet have you been living?”  But, this was the first miracle that I observed when I arrived in Iligan last 15 November 2017.  I joined as a volunteer for the “Durog Marawi” Program.  Bishop Edwin de la Peña, MSP, D.D. of the Marawi Prelature asked the Redemptorist Missionaries (priests, brothers and lay) of the Cebu and Manila Units to help him respond to the Marawi War crisis.  The “Duyog Marawi” was able to recruit young graduates from the Mindanao State University of Marawi City, both Muslims and Christians.  For example, some are Social Work graduates who passed the government board exam, others are teachers, etc.  These young Muslims and Christians are themselves IDPs (Internal Displaced Persons) with their respective refugee families.  Now, they are working together to respond to the needs of the Muslim and Christian IDPs.  Of course they are PAID volunteers; their temporary livelihood.  There are about 130 of them; about 30 of whom sleep and hold office in our Catholic buildings.

Here is another miracle.  The Christian and Muslim young volunteers fed the Muslim children in Marawi city, INSIDE A MUSLIM MASJID.  It can only be a MIRACLE when Christians (together with the Muslim volunteers) ACTUALLY fed Muslim children INSIDE A MUSLIM MASJID!  I witnessed the happiness of the Muslim children.

Here is another miracle.  Bishop de la Peña wanted to bring together the former parishioners of his cathedral in GROUND ZERO, Marawi City.  These Christians, who used to live and work in Marawi City, got dispersed somewhere in Iligan, Cagayan de Oro and other nearby towns and villages.  That is why they are referred to as the “DIASPORA” (dispersed) IDPs.  Well, our MUSLIM young volunteers helped to prepare the venue for the gathering of the CATHOLIC DIASPORA at the temporary residence and “cathedral” of Bishop de la Pena in Balo-i, some kilometers north of Marawi City.  His so-called “cathedral” could pass as probably the SMALLEST Catholic cathedral in the whole world.  It is actually a barangay chapel that can sit only 250 church-goers.  Anyway, the miracle was that the MUSLIM young volunteers prepared for and assisted the CATHOLIC Bishop to meet his IDP Catholic parishioners, and give them material and monetary gifts.

Another related miracle was when, ON THE REVERSE SIDE, the Catholic young volunteers (together with the Muslim young volunteers) this time prepared for the gathering of MUSLIM ONLY IDPs.  They gathered at Mindanao State University to prepare their 12-point program to be submitted to the National Government for the re-building of Marawi.  It was attended by the top Sultan of Marawi (Datu Meno) and the current governor of the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao), Governor Hataman.  Bro. Rey, a Dominican Brother who is the over-all director of Duyog Marawi, was sitting at the Presidential table, with the Muslims.  Our CATHOLIC and MUSLIM volunteers prepared for and served the MUSLIM gathering; a MIRACLE!

There will be more “MIRACLES AND THE MARAWI WAR!”

(By: Fr. Emy Maningo, Redemptorist Missionary)