As listeners and servants of the Word in Africa and evangelizing with the intelligent use of the various means of communication, we had our continental Bible assembly for Africa ACLA under the guidance of the General Prefect of Bible Ministry and Communications Fr. Henry Omonisaye, Cmf. The 32 participants, including the Claretian Family members (RMI and Lay Claretians), were from all the organisms and missions in Africa. The assembly took place at the Institute of Consecrated Life in Africa (INCLA), Bwari, Abuja, Nigeria, from 6th -12 November 2022.
The enthronement of the Bible with the reading of the text from Matthew 7:24-27 set the tone for the assembly. We were one with the whole Congregation through the letter addressed to us and the video message by Father General. The aim of the conference, as presented by the General Prefect of Bible Ministry and Communications, was to coordinate the pastoral activities of the prefectures of bible and communication ministry in ACLA and to design the concrete pastoral biblical plan for ACLA with the key of the biblical animation of all our pastoral ministries.
In his message, the Superior General emphasised the need for us to imitate our Father Founder, the itinerant preacher, especially in his passion for souls. In his words: “a Claretian who has no passion for the word of God is out of tune with the missionary ethos of our life and mission as Claretians.”
On his part, the Vicar General, Fr. Henry Omonisaye, spoke on the Biblical animation of the pastoral ministry in the Congregation. Drawing inspiration from the document of the XXVI General Chapter (Querida Congregacion), he called on us to focus on the implementation of the dream of the Chapter in the second and the fifth parts, which focus on treasuring the word of God in our hearts to fulfil and effectively proclaim it. In the same way, we should aim at a biblical animation of all our pastoral ministries in line with the recommendations of Verbum Domini (73).
The goal of Biblical animation is to create the possibility of an encounter with Christ on our different pastoral platforms through biblical ministry. We could do this by:
- Forming small Christian communities around the Bible
- Deepening the encounter with the Word of God through all means possible
- A biblical animation of all our pastoral actions, like in a symphony with the Holy Spirit as inspirer, and Jesus, the conductor, etc.
There were presentations from all the Major Organisms and missions of ACLA on their different bible ministry and communications activities. Delegates and guest speakers presented papers in the presence and online on the following topics:
- Some Hermeneutic Keys on Biblical Interpretation in Africa
- Creative Perspectives on Studying the Bible (Family, bible Schools,
- Bible Study Groups, etc.),
- The Bible as a Tool for Inculturation and Social change,
- Biblical Formation of Laity and Catechists,
- Historical overview of the Bible and Publishing Ministry in the Congregation,
- Workshop on how to Practice Lectio Divina,
- Claret, as a cyber missionary,
- Evangelising through Digital art and Broadcasting, and,
- New Creative ways of Evangelising through the Media.
Apart from our dialogues, the delegates had a cultural day to help us understand the context where we had the assembly. We visited St. John Paul II Parish, where Pope St. John Paul II celebrated mass when he visited Nigeria in 1998, and other parts of the city.
We are immensely grateful to the Delegation of West Nigeria and the INCLA community for the hospitality we received, and this enhanced a fruitful and enriching encounter. The delegates proposed a team to animate the Biblical Pastoral Ministry and Communications at the level of ACLA. There is hope for the ACLA conference after this encounter.