The Antilles and the Caribbean: Proposals for “The Year of the Word”

I am Monsignor William John-Lewis the zonal representative of the Catholic Biblical Federation.

On 21 January this year, Cardinal Tagle, the President of the Catholic Biblical Federation invites the entire membership of the Federation to celebrate the Year of the Word of God beginning on the First Sunday of Advent this year, 2019 and ending on the Feast of Saint Jerome, 30th September 2020.

In the words of Cardinal Tagle, “This year 2019 marks this 50th anniversary on the foundation of the Catholic Biblical Federation.  The year 2020 marks the 1600th anniversary of the death of St. Jerome, the great translator of the Bible who sought to render the Scriptures into the common everyday language of ordinary people so to make the written word of God available to all.   His zeal to make the Scriptures accessible to people arises from his conviction that “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.

We hope that a year dedicated to the Word of God will help pastors and institutions committed to the Biblical Pastoral Ministry in your countries to renew their efforts to place the Word of God at the center of the life and mission of the Church

In his letter, the Cardinal  encourages the members of the Federation “to coordinate with your Episcopal conference and with the other Member of the CBF in your Country and region on how to celebrate the Year of the Word of God.”

In April this year the Biblical Federation celebrated an international congress in Rome to mark the 50th anniversary of the foundation on the Federation.   It is the desire of the Bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference that the Scriptures become not an appendix to pastoral life, but an integral part of all pastoral activity.   And so, many years ago, they have chosen to accept the Animation of all Pastoral activity which we refer to as ABP, in Spanish, Animacion Biblica de la Pastoral as part of the mission of the Church in the Caribbean.

I would like to share some ideas on what could be done to celebrate especially this special year.

First, let us go look at some of the Church documents that deal with the Word of God. We have for example the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum from Vatican II, and we have the final message of the Synod of Bishops on the life and mission of the church, and we have also Verbum Domini of Pope Benedict XVI, and Evangelii Gaudium of our present Holy Father Pope Francis.  All these documents deal with the Word of God and teach us how to look at the Word of God and how to use the Word of God in our daily lives and the Liturgy.  

Perhaps we can highlight the first three important pillars of ABP and the first one being the Bible and the Liturgy; the second, a reflective reading of the Bible; and the third, knowledge of the Bibl—the books and their history.

Or plan formation programs and other activities around these three objectives.

One objective could be the preservation of the dignity of the word in the liturgy and the family; the enthronement of the bible in our churches and chapels and in each household.

Another objective could be to promote a better understanding of the books of the Bible through biblical formation open to all the faithful and especially to our pastoral leaders and catechists; and also developing special age-appropriate activities for the children and youth.

A third objective might be to lead the people of God to savour the Bible through personal and group practice of lectio divina.  

Let all pastoral activities begin with a prayerful communal reading of the Word.  Bring the faithful to the rediscovery that the Word of God is good news for today.

And lastly, a fourth objective,  to celebrate the Word on all levels diocesan, Vicariate or deanery and parish.

What about a congress on the word? The possibilities are endless.

I would now like to end with a word from Cardinal Tagle’s letter. ‘Like the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, may this is year set many hearts on fire as Jesus encounters them on the roads of life with his word and the table sharing. May they make room for him and go forth with joy and sharing their experiences of the risen Lord.

Finally I invite you to share your experiences, your activities.  

Send us photographs with a little article describing what the photographs tell us.  

These we need to share with each other.  

Thank you very much, and God bless you.

 Monsignor William John-Lewis

The zonal representative of the Catholic Biblical Federation.



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