Twenty-seven participants of Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF) from four nations (Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India) met at the ‘Serene Pastures’ Spirituality Centre, Bolowalana, Colombo, Sri Lanka from 07 to 10 January 2020 for its biennial Convocation. During the four-day meet, they deliberated on the theme: Word of God in the Light of Aperuit Illis.
The Convocation was graced and guided by Rev. Fr Jan J. Stefanow SVD, the General Secretary of CBF. During the three day deliberations, Fr Stefanow spoke on the vision and mission of the Catholic Biblical Federation, its coordination, structure and growth. He also spoke on the initiatives and activities in the field of the ministry of the word of God in various parts of the world.
Most Rev. Antonysamy Peter Abir in his keynote address explained the Apostolic Exhortation, Aperuit Illis. He clarified that the ministry of the Word of God is our mission today. Bible is the book of the people and therefore it should be made accessible to all. It is not just a book, but it is the Word of God, said Bishop Abir.
Rev. Fr Johnson Puthussery of KCBC Bible Commission spoke on the theme: “Biblical Ministry Following the Footsteps of St Paul”. Prominent Biblical scholar from Pakistan Rev. Fr Emmanuel Asi presented his views on the “Challenges of Biblical Apostolate in South Asia”. Rev. Fr Patrick Simon Gomes of Bangladesh enlightened the participants on “Word of God and Evangelization in South Asia”.
One of the high points of the three-day event was a visit to St Sebastian’s Church, Katwapitiya - Colombo, where a human-bomb killed 115 worshippers during the morning Mass on last Easter Sunday. The remnants of the brutal attack and the memorial built to honour the victims moved everyone to tears. Rev. Fr Fr Sachitha, the Assistant Parish Priest, explained the horrific incident and the trauma felt by the people. He said their faith is strong and thus they are able to come out of the traumatic experience within a short time.
The participants were also taken to a tour of the centre Kuthu Dana Pubuduwa – the headquarters of the renewal ministry in Sri Lanka.
Catholic Biblical Conference (CBF) is an apex coordinating body established by Vatican and headed by His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila. Currently its headquarter is in Germany, but will soon be moved to Vatican. Bishops’ Conferences around the world have full membership in it while all the dioceses and institutions that work in the field of Bible Apostolate can have associate membership.
Rev. Fr A John Baptist is the Coordinator of South Asia Sub-region. During the Convocation in Colombo, the delegates elected the following members to constitute the team: Rev. Fr Joe Eruppakkatt SSP (India), Rev. Fr Emmanuel Asi (Pakistan) and Rev. Fr Patrick Gomes (Bangladesh). Rev. Fr John Sagayam of NBCLC, Bangalore had already been nominated the Treasurer to the Sub-Region.
The Convocation was ably planned and organized by Rev. Fr A. John Baptist, Coordinator of CBF, South Asia Sub-Region, Rev. Fr Alvin Fernando and Rev. Fr Sagaya John, both Members of the Executive Committee of CBF.
Fr A. John Baptist