Bandung, Indonesia. On September 23, 2023, the Claretians, responsible for the respective Biblical Ministries of ASCLA East and West Major Organisms wrapped up their Biblical Assembly at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre in Bandung, Indonesia. The gathering was centered around faith and aimed to spread the Word of God. The assembly, which had a theme of “Rooted in Christ and audacious in the Word in Asia,” brought together twenty-six participants from the two Conferences. Throughout the event, attendees were inspired and encouraged in a supportive atmosphere.
The primary objective of this five-day assembly was to emphasize the Biblical animation of all pastoral ministries. Participants recognized the urgency of equipping missionaries in Asia with effective study methods, tools, and resources for accurate interpretation and application of Scripture through ongoing formation.
Strengthening the Foundation of Bible Ministry
Within the context of the Asian Conferences, parish ministry was highlighted as a robust platform for spreading the Word through various means such as liturgical celebrations, catechesis, retreat preaching, and Bible study programs. While traditional preaching methods remain significant, the Assembly emphasized the importance of embracing creative ways to communicate God’s Word to people of all ages.
Leadership in Bible Ministry
The ASCLA Conference has formed a specialized Bible Animation Team to manage and supervise different aspects of Bible ministry. The team will be led by Fr. Jose Cherukara, CMF (East Asia) along with the members Fr. Johnson Thurackal, CMF (Northeast India), Fr. Valens Agino, CMF (Indonesia-Timor Leste), Fr. Ronald Sujeevan, CMF (St. Joseph Vaz), and Fr. Martin Vithayathil, CMF (St. Thomas).
Furthermore, Claretian Fathers Martin Mankunnath from Bangalore, Alejandro Gordin from Fr. Rhoel Gallardo, Gabriel Kim from Korea, Augustus Kujur from Kolkata, and Michael Francis from Chennai will aid in the management of Bible Ministry ventures in their Major Organisms. They will encourage teamwork, as well as the exchange of knowledge and resources.
Challenges and Opportunities
The Assembly recognized challenges in the field of Biblical apostolate, including a lack of competence and inadequate preparation among missionaries and collaborators, as well as a shortage of lay collaborators. Addressing these issues will be essential to enhancing the effectiveness of Bible Ministry.
Embracing Digital Tools and Platforms
Acknowledging the potential of cyber missionary initiatives, the Assembly emphasized the need for proficiency in digital tools and platforms to effectively communicate and engage people from diverse backgrounds in the age of artificial intelligence. The Media and Communication Team of the Conference will lead initiatives to improve the biblical literacy of missionaries and launch Bible ministry across all digital platforms. In addition, major organisms are encouraged to invest in research and development (R&D) to develop innovative digital tools that facilitate the study, interpretation, and understanding of the Bible.
The assembly stressed the importance of promoting mutual understanding, respect, and peaceful coexistence in a world characterized by religious pluralism. It called for a commitment to regular interfaith dialogue to facilitate meaningful exchanges between different religions. Efforts to educate and learn from each other’s religious traditions and practices were crucial for harmonious coexistence among different faith communities.
The participants left the Assembly with a renewed commitment to the Word of God and a mission to speak in an inclusive manner that respects all religions as they continue to spread the message of Christ in Asia and beyond.
Source: Fr. Jose Cherukara, CMF, Communication in charge, East Asia Delegation.