Episcopal Commission on the Biblical Apostolate

Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines


The First Diocesan Bible Congress of the Diocese of Tarlac

I was invited by the diocesan Bible Apostolate Core Team of the diocese of Tarlac headed by Rev. Fr. Anthony George Bergonio to be one of their speakers in their First Diocesan Bible Congress held at the Hacienda Gracia Hotel and Resort in Sta. Maria, Lubao, Pampanga on November 3-4, 2017. Since I had to commute to the venue, I brought along my assistant, Ms. Remedios Alma Alberto (Remy) who joined us in ECBA last September to help out with ECBA workshops, programs and additional tools for Bible sessions.

We were fetched on time where we alighted from the bus to join in the opening rites which started with a creative Bible Enthronement. The theme of the congress was “The Bible: Hope for the Community’s Progress”. It was attended by 198 participants, not counting the seminarians and the members of the youth commission who took care of animations, the sound system, documentation and preparation for the liturgical celebrations. It was very encouraging to see how everyone participated through active listening and assisting one another with their respective needs.

The talk assigned to me was on ECBA’s Vision and Mission. Rev. Fr. Jess Layug, the Regional Bible Apostolate Director spoke on “The Bible as a Way of Life”. He gave emphasis on the fact that knowledge of God’s Word should be manifested in our lives. “The Role of Mary in the Bible” was expounded by Rev. Fr. Melvin Castro. He gave a narrative on the role of Mary from Genesis to the Book of Revelation depicting Mary as the role model for all of us especially where listening and discerning the will of God is concerned. The Eucharistic celebration was the climax of the first day of the congress celebrated by the Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on the Biblical Apostolate, His Excellency Sofronio A. Bancud, SSS, D.D. His homily focused on the readings of the day and challenged the participants to make a choice – to see things and people like the Pharisees portrayed in the gospel or to see situations and people with the eyes of Christ. He encouraged everyone present to familiarize themselves with the Word of God so they can be channels of grace in their respective communities. The evening was a celebration of impromptu presentations ending with Taize led by the diocesan youth. In spite of drizzles from the heavens, all went well on the first day.

The second day commenced with a morning prayer led by Rev. Jeffrey Gramonte followed by the usual animation gimmicks of the joyful youth. The plenary talk on “Reaching the Grassroots: How to start BEC” was expertly presented by Mr. Emiliano Ibera, a professor on Pastoral Ministry at St. Vincent School of Theology. Using both of his academic and experiential expertise he used the national language to explain what BEC is all about, the steps needed in organizing BECs, factors to consider in community organizing and ended with the admonition that the building of communities should be part of Jesus’ mission. Inspired by Pope Francis’ EvangeliiGaudium he also challenged the participants to be part of the PCP II’s dream of building basic ecclesial communities. A sequel to his talk was that of Mr. Andres Mendoza, “The Bible as a Tool for BEC Building”. His wit and humor kept the audience attentive and participative. He zeroed in on the characteristics of the early Christian communities as found in Acts 2 and Acts 4.

For the participants to bring home something they can do and start with, I was able to introduce them to Lectio Divina before the arrival of Most Reverend Enrique Macaraeg, D.D. the bishop of Tarlac who officiated the Eucharistic celebration. He congratulated the organizers for the success of their Bible Congress and advised all the participants to hear, listen, read, study and live the Word of God because the Word of God has the power to transform lives. Congratulations to the core team – the team who were in Laoag for the Bible Congress last year. Truly, you worked so hard and your labor bore fruit. We in ECBA deeply appreciate your efforts Rev. Fr. Anthony George Bergonio, the diocesan Bible Apostolate Coordinator and his angels, Gloria Lugtu, Lourdes Briones, Teresita Yusuico, Aleta Aquino, Loida Espinosa, Lourdes and Edgardo Mendoza. To God be the glory. God bless you more.

ECBA CBCP Executive Secretary
CBF-SEA Sub Regional Coordinator

December 1, 2015 is the first day of His Excellency Sofronio Bancud, SSS, D.D. to serve as the elected Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on the Biblical Apostolate (ECBA).   This was formally celebrated in a simple but meaningful ceremony where His Excellency Pablo Virgilio S. David turned over his duties and responsibilities as the outgoing chairman of the commission.  Along with the ECBA flag, Bp. Ambo (as he is fondly called) also handed over the ECBA Manual,  the 20 ECBA National Bible Workshop (NBW) Statements,  the audited financial reports, and the minutes of the executive committee meetings from 2011 to 2015. read full text

The Mahayag Experience
March 8, 2015 Updates

The Marbel fever is still on for many participants in the recently held National Bible Workshop. It was the 21st with lots of memories and sharing of experiences among parishes, dioceses and regions. With the use of the Appreciative Inquiry method facilitated by Bp Rene Mayugba, the IPD team headed by Mr. Augusto Arguelles and the trainees in the September 11, 2015 workshop, we were able to identify our dreams and courses of action for this year and the years to come as we look forward to 2021, the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. A team was designated to spell out specific courses of action and methodologies relevant to the statement made after the workshop. The team will meet on Easter Wednesday after which the template agreed upon will be disseminated to you for reflection, action and integration in your respective places of  mission. A highlight in the video message of His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle is the challenge to work along with other commissions to inspire everyone with the Word of God.

Answering this challenge, the diocese of Pagadian held its First Gagmay ng Simbahanong Katilingban (GSK) or BEC Congress at the St. Michael Parish in Mahayag, Zambooanga del Sur on March 5-6, 2016 with 765 participants. They started with a parade of Bible verses around the town as early as 7:30 in the morning, followed by the Bible Enthronement. The theme “The Word of God and the Eucharist Strengthens the GSK” was elaborated through a three-hour lecture by the executive secretary of ECBA. The afternoon session was a delightful one by Bro. Noe Dora who spoke the language of the people. He narrated his struggles in searching for the truth which finally led him to the Catholic faith.  Although a former pastor he now embraces Catholicism and goes around to announce his discovery and conviction. His tales of woe related to his conversion moved many to tears but ended with smiles as he spiced his talk with anecdotes. He is the head minister of pastors converted to Catholicism and has expressed his desire and that of his group to be affiliated with ECBA.

It was amazing to observe the enthusiasm and commitment of the participants who came from different parishes some of whom stayed overnight for the celebration of the Eucharist and the open forum the next day. The church was not enough to contain all participants for like the loaves of bread and fish, there was a multiplication of people in attendance the following day.

Congratulations to their lay woman organizer Mrs. Remy Artiaga, the parish priest Rev. Fr. Ramonito Hilot and his assistant, Fr. Fred and of course to the diocesan coordinator, Rev. Fr. Salvador Banga and their diocesan lay coordinator, Mr. Pablo “Bong” Siasico and his very supportive wife Flor. Congratulations likewise to all participants for their attendance and participation.

The Spirit is moving in surprising and dumbfounding ways. Praise the Lord !