The 4 Bishops and delegates from the dioceses of the Castries Province of the Antilles Episcopal Conference participated in a 3 day Encounter on Biblical Animation of all Pastoral Life (ABP) 10-12 December ending with the presentation diocesan plan outlines which put the encounter with the Christ, the Word Made Flesh through Scripture at the very centre of mission for the New Evangelization in 2014.
Hosted by Castries Metropolitan Archbishop Robert Rivas and Bishops Vincent Darius of Grenada, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau, and Bishop Kenneth Richards of St. John's/Basseterre at the Mount of Prayer at the Benedictine Monastery outside Castries, the Encounter was attended by the Bishops and a symbolic 72 participants, comprising 20 priests, 5 religious sisters, 5 permanent deacons and 42 lay women and men who pledged to make their own the call of Pope Benedict XVI in his Exhortation after the Synod on the Word of God, Verbum Domini "for a particular pastoral commitment to emphasizing the centrality of the word of God in the Church's life, and a greater "biblical apostolate", not alongside other forms of pastoral work, but as a means of letting the Bible inspire all pastoral work"
Participants included the ABP diocesan Teams already appointed by the four bishops. The goals for 2014 work plans developed by dioceses during the encounter included greater familiarity and love of Scripture to be reflected in homilies, catechesis, bible study, Lectio Divina, and activities such as promoting a prayed bible in every Catholic home, bible months and bible training and team building programmes for laity and clergy alike. The encounter also fully embraced the call by Pope Benedict for the Church to move " from considering laity as 'collaborators' of the clergy to recognizing them as truly 'co-responsible' for the being and action of the Church," especially in their spread the love of the Word of God as missionary disciples. The four bishops endorsed the plans prepared by their respective diocesan teams at the closing Lectio Divina ceremony
Bishop Darius in his homily at the opening liturgy noted that successful businesses are those in which employees and personnel truly appreciate the products they sell and serve and that equally those can only joyfully spread the love of the Word of God, who have tasted and loved that Word.
The Encounter was marked by exposition and reflection on major Church Documents on the Word of God, Dei Verbum the Word of God in Revelation Constitution of Vatican II, Pope Benedict XVI's Verbum Domini, and Pope Francis' recent Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, as well as Lectio Divina, guidelines for ABP programmes, Bible based liturgies and the enthronement of the Bible for all activities, team building games and group and individual prayer in Encounter with the Word.
Facilitators for the Encounter were Msgr. Mike Stewart, Vicar General of the Kingstown diocese; Maria Diaz-James, CELAM's Caribbean ABP representative; and Deacon Mike James AEC General Secretary.
The encounter coincided with a meeting of the Bishops of the Castries province which included a special Mass for the Celebration of the Immaculate Conception on December 9 and the Solemn Eucharistic Celebration on 13 December of the Feast of St. Lucy patroness of St. Lucia at the National Shrine at Micoud, where Bishop Malzaire who hails from the town, preached the homily.
The ABP initiative comes in response to the priority set by the Bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) at their Annual Plenary Meeting (APM) in April this year to make the Word of God, central to their commitment to the New Evangelization of the region. And too give priority to the study, meditation and mission flowing from the Bible.
One ABP Delegate from each diocese will join representatives from all 20 AEC dioceses for a regional ABP seminar at St. John Vianney Seminary in Trinidad 20-21 January 2014.
Deacon Mike James