On Wednesday June 8, 2016, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire with his clergy, gathered at the Holy Redeemer Retreat House for a three-day ABP Encounter. Some members of the Diocesan ABP Team were also in attendance. With its theme, “I saw you under the fig tree” (John 1:48), the Encounter was facilitated by the husband and wife team, Deacon Mike James and Maria
In the attractively decorated Conference room space, the Encounter began at 10:00 am with the enthronement of God’s Word followed by the proclamation and dramatization of Luke 15:11-32, the story of the Merciful Father or the Prodigal Son as it is commonly called. On that same text, Lectio Divina in small groups followed. Its focus was on the character in the story that spoke to each one’s heart.
After Lectio Divina, Bishop Gabriel welcomed to the Encounter everyone present. Mike and Maria were especially welcomed and thanked for their graciousness and joy in accepting the invitation to facilitate the Encounter. After a short break, participants shared their expectations of the Encounter. The rest of the morning was devoted to two exercises, the first was a reflection on the theme “I saw you under the fig tree” followed by the activity of looking into the eyes of each other, just as Jesus looked and saw Nathaniel under the fig treeA question rising from the exercises was: “How can I apply new ways of thinking in my ministries and pastoral work?” Powerpoint presentation sessions began in the afternoon of that first day. Presentation #1: Historical Background of the Bible and Presentation #2: Verbum Domini, the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Benedict XV1. Every presentation concluded with questions for reflection. These questions were of a practical nature.
The second day of the Encounter began with Lectio Divina on the Scripture Text Luke 10:25-37, the Story of the Good Samaritan, followed by the continuation of powerpoint presentations Presentation#3: Evangelii Gaudium, the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis and Presentation #4: The Year of Mercy and Pope Francis.
The Eucharist was celebrated midmorning, followed by lunch.
The afternoon sessions began with an exercise followed by Presentation #5, what is ABP? And presentation #6: ABP activities in Dominica and in the AEC.
Day three began with Lectio Divina on the text Luke 16:19-31, The Sinful Woman. Presentation #7, ABP plans followed. ABP plans were done by vicariates and a representative of each vicariate shared the vicariate’s plan with the entire group. It is hoped that every parish of the vicariate will implement the plan as a way of helping ABP to take root in the parishes and the Diocese as a whole.
The celebration of the Eucharist and closing ceremony brought the ABP Encounter to a close. At the closing ceremony the ABP plans were brought up and presented. Participants were invited to touch the Bible that was enthroned, pray in silence for a moment, plant a seed and be anointed by Bishop Gabriel.
The Encounter was a valuable learning and formative experience. There was active participation, deep and genuine sharing, and good camaraderie on the part of participants. What is to be done now is to make God’s word the center and source of all pastoral activities in the parishes. And in so doing, ABP will truly be alive in our Diocese of Roseau.
Submitted by Sr. Lorraine Royer, ICM