Bishop Karel Choennie of Paramaribo Suriname leads Lectio Divina in Weekly Chancery Assembly and in parishes
It is now again the time of year when we are doing a summary report of bible activities in FEBIC LAC for all the dioceses and members of FEBIC LAC. I would be most grateful if you can let me have a brief report on the biblical activities in your Diocese for the year 2016. Hopefully you can let me have it by the end of January. Following the different headings below may be a help to you in covering the main issues and assisting in your own evaluation of 2016 and planning for 2017:
The driving force for our diocese is that every Catholic should have a deeper encounter of God through the word of God and meet the Lord Jesus Christ personally in the scriptures. One of the major achievements in diocese of Paramaribo is the promotion of the lectio divina method. The bishop himself, Most Reverend Karel Choennie, besides the ABP coordinator, is a key person in promoting this method in the diocese. Personally he leads the lectio divina session at the chancery during the weekly assembly. He also makes it his priority to journey through the diocese in order to initiate and lead lectio divina sessions. Presently he is weekly in one of the parishes leading the lectio Divina sessions. The ABP coordinator joins the bishop in this journey and leads lection divina in one of our youth prayer groups, at the pastoral center of the diocese, during retreats and others meetings.
Another achievement is the promotion of the enthronement of the bible. The ABP coordinator in collaboration with the Pontifical Missions Societies conducted seminar to evoke and promote missionary awareness in our school. The Mission seminars were conducted for all Catholic schools on Primary level. Each seminar started with a bible procession followed by the reading and sharing of scripture. After the sharing the bible was enthroned on a therefor designate place. Teachers were encouraged to do the same with their students during the religious instruction classes.
Biblical sessions are also broadcast through our catholic radio station ‘Radio Immanuel’. These sessions are weekly conducted by the vicar general, Father Esteban Kross. In addition, various other programs for children, youth and adults are aired all with a biblical foundation. For example the program “Talita Koemi” (little Girl get up) inspired by Mark 5:41 is a health program. This program deals mainly with different health issues, but also encourages the listeners to have hope and faith that Jesus is the great healer. As such various bible passages which highlight healing are use to encourage the listeners.
The diocesan website is also making headway in promoting the reading of scripture. Daily scripture readings as well as other encouraging scriptures and prayers are posted for our online viewers. Many positive responses and likes are received. our online viewers are growing. Since we are living in a digital world where technology place daily a significant role the bishop highlighted in the diocesan pastoral plan the use of technology as a must. The use of media and communication methods will be in 2017 major tools for reaching out to the faithful.
In our diocese that there are various group and organizations with various charisms and ministries, but we all have one major goal “to go therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). We will be unable to do so without the word of God as our sword and to be a guide on our path. As such we realize that working together with other existing groups in the diocese is very helpful. Since it is utmost important that we are unity in the body of Christ. In doing so the ABP coordinator gets the opportunity to reinforce that scripture is fundamental in all our diocesan activities, while promoting the ABP goals. The ABP coordinator is working closely with the Pontifical Mission Societies as well as the committee for youth and vocations in the diocese.
Mostly helpful were also lectio divina guidelines which the bishop distributed. These were in Dutch so we didn’t have to face the challenge of translating English material. Weekly lectio divina handouts based on the Sunday’s gospel which are distributed by the bishop are a great tool and help in applying the method.
- One of the challenges the ABP coordinator face is forming an ABP board. Caught up in various activities the coordinator didn’t give this goal a priority. In other to fulfill this requirement one of the major goals in 2017 is to form an ABP committee, as such various persons are already approached to join the ABP Committee. The board should be a reality in 2017.
- To get passionate coordinators in all parishes who will promote ABP activities.
- Many persons who apply the lectio Divina method testify that this is a way of making the scriptures come alive in their personal life.
- Principals and teachers in various Catholic schools agree to implement the bible enthronement in the school.
- A small amount of the laity testify that they are reading their bible more often at home. The bible also has a significant place in their home. Some parishioners even walk with their bibles to Mass because they are encouraged by the parish priest to do so.
Catholic bibles are needed. Many Catholics are not to be in the possessions of a Catholic bible. Although many believers seem to have a desire to purchase a catholic bible, the Catholic edition in Dutch are very expensive. Noticeable is that the various catholic religious shops don’t even have catholic bibles available for the faithful. In this regard financial resources are needed to be able to acquire great quantity of Catholic Bibles (in Dutch) for the faithful.
As our diocese is working towards our synod in 2018 one of the key points of the bishop pastoral plan of 2017 is the bible –‘The word of God”. All priests, deacons and parish councils are called upon to start a bible study group in there parishes, and to incorporated lectio divina as an integral part of their pastoral ministry. As such the bishop is strongly encouraging that every meeting in the parishes should start with a lectio divina session. As the ABP coordinator my desire is that all priests and permanent deacons will abide in the visons of the bishop and make the word of God truly the center of our daily ministry. Although on diocesan level the term ABP is hardly mentioned in our daily activities, scripture is at the center of all that we do.