18th National Biblical Workshop
Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate
Theme: "May they be one..." (John 17:21)
The Word of God Is the Life and Mission of the Church
Club Balai Isabel, Talisay, Batangas
February 8-13, 2010
“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your torrents”—this passage from the Book of Psalms (Psalms 42:8a NAB) would reverberate in nature and in our hearts as our National Biblical Workshop, the 18th in the history of ECBA. Moved from the seashore of Cagayan de Oro City two years ago to the lakeshore of Talisay, Batangas. Here on the shore of the world-famous Taal Lake and across its serene yet ever watchful Taal Volcano, we strove to fathom the depths of our life, vocation and mission as “Bible apostles.”
We were 178 participants in all: bishops, priests, religious men and women, and lay faithful coming from the Board of Trustees, the National Office, and the 12 regional centers. The workshop took place at Club Balai Isabel from February 9-13, 2010 and had for its theme “The Word of God is the Life and Mission of the Church,” a take-off from the theme of the 12th Synod of Bishops on the Word of God. Prior to the workshop, the 5th National Consultation and Planning was conducted in the same venue attended by the bishops, members of the ECBA boards, and regional and diocesan directors.
The theme of the workshop elucidated to us by our ECBA Chairman Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David, fondly known as “Bishop Ambo”, is part of a larger theme, “May They Be One” (John 17:21). This priestly prayer of Jesus is also the name of a five-year nationwide program aiming to put a Bible in every Filipino home. To this program, ECBA has committed, from 2009 until 2013, to work in bayanihan spirit with the Philippine Bible Society and other Bible organizations in the country and abroad, so that 5 million Bibles shall have been distributed at the end of the program.
A representative of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) then came and explained to us the importance of automated elections, an inevitable and historic landmark in our country, which should be faced with courage and hope. The challenge he put before us Filipinos is captured by the slogan: “Itama ang boto; iboto ang tama.” We should vote correctly so as not to spoil our ballot, at the same time choose the right candidates.
The morning of the second day was devoted to the presentation of the theme “Translated Word Transforming and Uniting Peoples” by the staff of the Summer Institute of Linguistics-Philippines headed by Fr. Marc Jacobson and his wife Suzanne Jacobson. Different workshops on the theme were conducted after the noon break. Later in the afternoon, Ms. Elvira Go and her staff officially launched the 4th Catholic Family Bible Encounter, replacing the more intimidating Catholic Family Bible Quiz, with the theme: “The Word of God calls us to be caring stewards of creation.”
On the third day, we listened to our Filipino “Synod Fathers” as they echoed the Synod on the Word of God taking the Nuntius or Final Message as the springboard for further reflections and challenges in the Biblical Apostolate. Presenting the four phases of the journey of the Word were Bishops Luis Antonio Tagle (The Voice of the Word: Revelation), Arturo Bastes, SVD (The Face of the Word: Jesus Christ), Pablo Virgilio S. David (The House of the Word: The Church), and Broderick Pabillo, SDB (“The Roads of the Word: The Mission”).
After two days of inputs, reflections, and sharing, we listened to Jesus’ summons to “rest for a while” and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Some took boats to cross to the other side of the lake and climb the volcano. Others moved up to Tagaytay City and Silang, Cavite. Others opted to stay in the resort watching a poignant film, “Saint Peter,” which turned out to be a powerful re-echo on the power of the Voice, the Face and the House of the Word which is a “flame” that cannot be put out and directs every listener to His Pathways. Back to Talisay, we approved our Final Statement and enjoyed our final dinner and cultural night.
Staying by the lake, who would not be reminded of Lake Tiberias where once Simon the Fisherman received a command from Jesus: “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). We, too, are called by the Divine Master to be fishers of men and women, to catch people for the Kingdom. Hence, as we return to work in other shores, even in the vast ocean of our Biblical apostolate, we will strive to pursue the following resolutions and commitments, relying on the grace of God and the intercession of Mary, Star of the Sea:
1. We will make the coming Apostolic Exhortation on the Word of God the basis and reference point of our reflection and action in our apostolate, thereby committing to share this Apostolic Exhortation with the People of God.
2. We will be more active in our financial campaign to finance our Biblical initiatives, taking advantage of opportunities provided by National Bible Sunday, Bible Week, and other related programs.
3. We will actively join the MTBO Bible Campaign, looking for and forming beneficiaries as well as generous benefactors for this project.
4. We will continue to promote the diffusion of the BEC Bible in a new package after the MTBO project .
5. We will intensify the efforts in fostering collaboration with PBS, SIL, CBAP and other Catholic groups in coming up with Bible translations.
6. We will resolutely take the “roads of the Word” that are open before us: to transmit the Word in the culture of communication, to bring the Word to families and the world of the youth, to find common harmony with the great religious traditions and local beliefs, to bring God to the people through the via pulchritudinis (way of beauty) of the Word, and to transform and regenerate cultures through the Gospel.
7. We will take the coming elections as another “road of the Word” and heed our Bishops’ call for vigilance and involvement, guided by their Pastoral Statement of January 24, 2010.
We conclude with a deep sense of gratitude to people who were God’s instruments in making both the National Consultation and Biblical Workshop a joyful and a fruitful experience.
Our sincerest appreciation and gratitude rightly go to the St. Peter’s Regional Biblical Center and National Center for the National Capital Region headed by their Regional Director, Rev. Fr. Gerardo Tapiador. Kudos and a million thanks to him and to his team.
Our gratitude goes also to the Steering Committee ably chaired and charged by Bishop Broderick Pabillo, SDB and Bishop Renato Mayugba. Our heartfelt thanks go also to the proprietors and staff of Club Balai Isabel who made us feel “sa balay”—at home—during our stay.
Lastly, how can we thank enough our Chairman Emeritus, Bishop Arturo Bastes, SVD? For such a long time, he has been our father, guide, and friend at ECBA. Even if the mantle of leadership has now been passed on to Bishop Ambo, he continues to help us keep the fire of God’s Word burning and alive in our hearts. He will always be a source of inspiration for us.
For the Workshop Participants:
+ PABLO VIRGILIO S. DAVID, D.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of San Fernando, Pampanga
13 February 2010
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.