16TH NATIONAL BIBLICAL WORKSHOP
Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate
Theme: God's Word: Power for National Renewal
Lay Formation Center, Teng-ab
Bontoc, Mountain Province, Philippines
February 6-10, 2006
“Go up onto a high mountain” (Isaiah 4:9). In the Bible and in many other cultures, the mountain is associated with the sacred. It is the dwelling place of the divine. Moses communed with God on the mountain of Sinai and there received the law for the people of Israel. The disciples of Jesus and a vast multitude went up a mountain in Galilee and there heard from him the Sermon on the Mount which can be taken as a compendium of the Gospel message.
Being in Bontoc, nestled in the Mountain Province, one cannot but share the sentiments of the natives for their mountain abode. But for us Bible workers - 184 in all - going to Bontoc was also akin to heeding the summon of the Lord to “go up onto a high mountain.” The call was for the celebration of the 16th National Bible Workshop which was held at the Lay Formation Center, Teng-ab, from 6-10 February, 2006.
The last National Workshop was held in Tagbilaran, Bohol, on February 24-28, 2003 with the theme, The Word of God Strengthens Family Values. Since then, there took place two important events that had bearing on the Word of God. ECBA led the holding of the 4th Asia-Oceania Biblical Congress in Tagaytay City on February 14-18, 2005. It had as theme, God’s Word: Living Hope and Lasting Peace. The meeting served as immediate preparation for the International Congress for the 40th Anniversary of Dei Verbum which would be celebrated in Rome on September 14-18, 2005 under the auspice of the Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF) and the Pontifical Council for The Promotion of Christian Unity.
The theme of the 16th National Bible Workshop in Bontoc: God’s Word: Power for National Renewal, was born of the conviction of the power of the Word and of a common, if painful, reflection on the phenomenon of corruption in the country that has tarnished its Christian image and caused tremendous suffering to our people. We were blessed to listen to the Bishop Emeritus of Bontoc-Lagawe, Msgr. Francisco Claver, S.J. sharing with us his reflections on Promoting Moral Values in Philippine Politics. This was further deepened by two workshops on the subject: God’s Word and Good Governance (Pura Sumangil) and God’s Word In One’s Heart Language For National Renewal (Annie del Corro).
Our second speaker was Msgr. Andres Cosalan who spoke on Pastoral Challenges of Dei Verbum. He helped us be grounded on this Magna Carta of the Biblical Apostolate and pointed out some areas where the word of God’s Word can be more effective.
Our Third Speaker, Dr. Natividad Pagadut, pointed out the importance of the Bible in the formation and growth of the BEC’s in her talk Word of God and the Basic Ecclesial Communities. We are thankful for the enlightenment on BEC’s which is more and more becoming the sitz-im-leben or the setting of Biblical Apostolate.
Three workshops were conducted to make us be more attuned to the needs of the times, namely: God’s Word and the Healing Ministry in Interfaith Dialogue (Sr. Dulce Velasco, MMS); Creative Expressions of God’s Word Among Children and the Youth (Charles Javier); and God’s Word in Gospel Comics (Communication Foundation for Asia).
The assembly also attended to other important matters: the BEC Bible, the revised ECBA Manual, and the Reports of the Regional Bible Centers.
“Now will I praise those Godly men and women” (Sirach 44:1). At the close of the 16th National Bible Workshop, we can truly say that the Bontoc experience is something that we will always carry and treasure in our hearts. We bless and thank the Almighty for the opportunity to see the wonders of nature in this part of the world, created through the divine logos. How we marveled at seeing for the first time the Rice Terraces of Banawe, considered one of the wonders of the world, and the waterfalls, caves, and other attractions of Sagada!
Our gratitude goes next to our host, the wonderful people of Bontoc and Banawe, and their Church, government and civil leaders. Under the leadership of Bishop Prudencio Andaya, CICM, Bishop Francisco Claver, SJ, the Biblical team headed by Regional Director Fr. Dominador Ramos, SVD and Apostolic Vicariate Director Fr. Armand Quinto. Our host Diocese had done its outmost to make our stay pleasant and to present to us the noble traditions of our brother and sisters in the Mountain Province. Our thanks and prayers also go to the late Bishop Cornelio Wigwigan who first accepted to host the workshop in September 2004.
Lastly, we would like to thank our speakers and workshop animators for their words of wisdom deeply colored by their love of the Word.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who bring glad tidings” (Isaiah 52:7). The encounter on the mountain ends with the going down. In our case, it is to go down to bring the Good News to God’s People. As we return to the “Vineyard” where the Lord has called us to work, we carry the memories of our short Bontoc sojourn, but also a stronger resolve to be attentive listeners and doers of the Word. In particular, we shall strive to implement the lines of action of the 16th National Workshop that we have set. In the next National Bible Workshop, we shall give a report on how far we have implemented them.
16TH National Workshop Lines of Action:
The Word of God and National Renewal
· We shall, in our personal capacity, refuse the forbidden fruit of corruption. We shall begin in our personal values and in the values of our family.
· We shall strive to make the BEC a vehicle of change by bringing the gospel into people’s lives as individuals and as community.
· We shall apply ourselves to more organized actions to fight corruption and support social bodies that pursue this cause.
The pastoral Challenges of Dei Verbum
· We shall strive to have a solid foundation on the Word of God through studies and help awaken Biblical awareness and interest in others.
· We shall strive to make the Word of God the soul of our spirituality, and the foundation of our dialogue with local cultures and of our engagement on social issues.
The Bible and the BECs
· We shall promote the Word of God as the starting point and sustaining force of the BEC’s.
· We shall promote the Lectio Divina not only for the ends of personal sanctification/conversions but also social/communitarian.
· We shall promote the BEC Bible so that our people may have a common understanding of the BEC and the importance of Scriptures in the building up of the community.
The Revised ECBA Manual
· We shall study and apply the Revised Manual, specially its provisions on the Regional and Diocesan centers and Lay Bible Animators.
· We shall help in strengthening ECBA on the regional, diocesan, Parish levels.
Approved this 10th of February 2006.
+ARTURO M. BASTES, SVD, DD
In the name of the participants
In the course of the study and implementation of the ECBA Manual, Directors may give suggestions or comments to ECBA that may further improve the Manual.
The Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate (ECBA) is a pastoral commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) whose area of competence and service is the biblical-pastoral ministry in its five-fold ministries of:
Animating Biblical-Pastoral Formation
Organizing Bible Celebration
Promoting Bible Translation
Assisting Bible Production
Coordinating Bible Distribution
A Community of Disciples
nourished by the Word of God,
Witnessing to the Gospel,
and Striving to be a Church
that is poor and for the poor,
with Mary, Mother of the Word, as model.