ONTARIO - Approaching the city's mosque for the first time for donations, the Roman Catholic Church at London city, Ontario, was surprised by the amount of food given by the Muslim community to feed hungry families during the Christmas season.
I feel extremely pleased and grateful, looking around this room, Moe Lacerte, the volunteer president of the St. Vincent de Paul conference at St. John the Divine Catholic Church, told London Free Press on Thursday, December 20.
We've never had so much to give. We will have extra; we'll be able to replenish our food bank here.
Happily surveying the donations that had been brought in the church, Lacerte said he reached out to the London Muslim mosque for the first time this year when asking for donations.
We all want the same things: peace and respect, and I see this as a beginning of working together, he added.
Mosque members welcomed the request with joy, said Ali D. Chahbar, who helped organize the drive with Zeba Hashmi, head of the outreach committee.
Chahbar said most of the 30 boxes of food donated by the mosque were collected by children at the Islamic School.
It was fantastic, amazing, he said.
Within the blink of an eye, they had boxes and boxes.
Lacerte had a similar reaction to the food collected by members of Western University's Muslim Student Association.
We filled a pickup truck, and my van is filled to the gunnels, he said.
It was unbelievable.
Christmas is the main festival on the Christian calendar.
Its celebrations reach its peak at 12:00 PM on December 24 of every year.
Welcoming the church's invitation, mosque officials praised the love spirits which spreads between the country's Muslims and Christians.
To us, the spirit of Christmas is the spirit of brotherly love, and why wouldn't we want to be a part of it? Chahbar said.
He celebrated the Christmas giving spirits, urging Canadians to keep them all through the year.
It is so nice. People are really different. They are nicer and you notice it, he said.
I wanted to get a megaphone and shout Can we keep this going all year, people?'.
We are not Christians and don't celebrate Christmas but we are engulfed by the spirit and â¦ any time there's a jubilant harmonious feeling, whatever creed it is under, we thrive on it, he said.
Muslims make around 1.9 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the north American country.
A survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.
For years, different Muslim organizations have volunteered to prepare and serve Christmas dinner for the needy.
Muslims believe in Jesus as one of the great Prophets of God and that he is the son of Mary but not the Son of God. He was conceived and born miraculously.
In the Noble Qur'an, Jesus is called "Isa". He is also known as Al-Masih (the Christ) and Ibn Maryam (Son of Mary).