15th National Biblical Workshop
Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate (ECBA-CBCP)
Theme: The Word of God Strengthens Family Values
Bohol Tropic Resort
February 24-28, 2003
And thus we came to Bohol.
Nestled in the heart of Central Visayas, Bohol Island is famous for its Chocolate Hills, centuries-old churches, white sandy beaches, exotic wildlife and deeply religious people. But from now on, we shall also remember Bohol as the host of the 15thNational Workshop of ECBA, held at the Bohol Tropic Resort on February 24-28, 2003.
In the name of “the Father, from whom every family from heaven and earth takes its name,” (Ephesians 3:15) we, Bible workers – three hundred five in all – came to Bohol to reflect on our mission in the light of the theme, The Word of God Strengthens Family Values. We came to this National Workshop enlightened and challenged by the recent events that had bearing on the Word of God and the Family: the 14th ECBA National Workshop, held in Kalibo, Aklan in February 2001, with the theme The Word of God – a Blessing to all Nations; the 6th Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Biblical Federation, held in Beirut, Lebanon in September 2002, which carried the same theme; and the 4th World Meeting of Families, which the Philippines hosted in January 2003, and had as theme The Christian Family: Good News for the Third Millennium.
To deepen our reflections, two major talks were given: The Gospels and the Roles of Men and Women in the Context of the Family by Sr. Niceta Vargas, OSA; and The Word of God and the Stability of Marriage by the couple Victorino and Agnes Gutierrez. We were further enriched by six workshops which dealt with the Word of God and the children, the youth, those who prepare for marriage, those who strive for integration of life, and the national policies on marriage. The last topic forewarned us about certain bills filed in Congress, that would subtly attack the integrity of the family and human life. To the speakers, all experts in their areas, go our heartfelt thanks.
“How good it is when sisters and brothers gather as one” (Psalm 133:1). Our meeting was made really pleasant by a spirit of camaraderie in times of prayer, of conversations, and formal sharing. The facilities and ambience provided by the resort greatly added to our ease and comfort. We also enjoyed a one-day tour of the tourist spots of the province, which included a sumptuous lunch while navigating the Loboc River and a moving concert by the renowned Loboc Children’s Choir. These privileges would have been beyond our means, had not our hosts, the Diocese of Tagbilaran and the Resort Management, gone out of their way to make our accommodations more affordable by subsidizing them.
Hosting a big group like ours is a herculean job. Our gratitude therefore goes to the wonderful people of Bohol, and their Church, government and civic leaders. In particular, our thanks go to the Most Reverend Leopoldo Tumulak, Bishop of Tagbilaran, to Msgr. Pelagio Dompor, Msgr. Gabino Lerin, and their Biblical team.
“And thus we came to Rome” (Acts 28:14). This passage closes the journey of the Apostle Paul, and likewise the Book of Acts. And yet, Paul looks forward to a wider horizon for evangelization. In like manner, while our coming to Bohol marks an arrival in our journey, it also opens before us another phase. Duc in altum! We shall be “putting out into the deep” in the vast ocean of biblical apostolate. In concrete, we shall try to implement the 15th National Workshop’s lines of action, which we have just set. May the good Lord who has begun the good work in everyone bring it to completion.
15TH NATIONAL WORKSHOP LINES OF ACTION
1. ECBA Manual
1.1 ECBA, at all levels, shall start implementing the ECBA Manual and report experiences to the Executive Committee for eventual evaluation.
1.2 The ECBA Executive Committee shall design tools to evaluate the implementation ad experimentum of the ECBA Manual.
2. The Word of God and the Family
2.1 ECBA shall establish and strengthen linkages with pertinent groups for better networking for the defense of the family against anti-life and anti-family bills filed by legislators.
2.2 ECBA, at regional, diocesan and parish levels, shall coordinate with Family and Life Apostolate, in view of anchoring family values on the Word of God.
3. ECBA Financial Resources
3.1 ECBA, at different levels, shall be creative in its efforts to augment its resources (e.g. “Love Offering,” “Friends of the Bible Apostolate,” “Barya para sa Biblia,” etc.).
3.2 ECBA, at all levels, shall take the opportunity offered by the celebration of National Bible Sunday to step up its appeal for financial support for its varied initiatives.
3.3 The ECBA Chairman shall remind the bishops to support the National Bible Sunday and see to it that collections are remitted to ECBA(National Office, Regional and Diocesan Centers).
Approved this 28th day of February 2003
+ARTURO BASTES, S.V.D., D.D.
In the name of the participants.