Written by: Dr. Tessa Rosana, ICLA’s Biblical Ministry Department Coordinator
This year 2021, the Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia (ICLA), had to forego a major annual event, the Religious Life Week held every 3rd week of January. As maybe obvious to everyone, it is an unfortunate consequence of the covid 19 pandemic—the virulence of which even ground to a halt the world’s economy and unplugged the whole world from its technological hubris while power and fame are as naught. Even our well laid out plans for 2020 were also disrupted and consigned to oblivion. An unceremonious awakening to the reality that no matter the seeming progress, we are not in control after all. But, even sadder is the fact that the ones who suffer the most from this global health disaster are those who are already poor and deprived.
Such is still the world scenario even with the vaccines already rolled out, at least in the rich countries like North America and Western Europe. But here in ICLA, we punctuated this as yet uncontrolled pandemic by celebrating Bible Week 2021.
From February 1-5, the Biblical Ministry students have prepared a week-long ambience for the word of God to be foregrounded in the life of ICLA community. This has become a tradition since about 4-5 years ago upon the encouragement of the Episcopal Commission on Bible Apostolate (ECBA). Likewise, as an Associate member of the worldwide Catholic Biblical Federation, ICLA is intentional in its celebration of BIBLE WEEK.
For this year, the theme chosen by the BM students is A New Creation: Healing in Christ with two Scripture texts echoing both the Old Testament (Jeremiah 30:17) and New Testament (2 Cor. 5:17) respectively.
February 1 was the Opening Mass preceded by Bible Enthronement performed in a prayer dance by the Biblical Ministry students. Since it is part of the 2nd semester, this celebration was interwoven with the classes with no unnecessary disruption. Only on the
culminating day, February 5, were the classes suspended in the morning to cap the whole Bible Week with reflections on the theme. This year, we featured two Biblical Ministry majors to give their reflections, rather than invite speakers from outside which was the case in the previous years. Perhaps because of the pandemic, it turned to be a blessing of discovery that our students can hold their ground in speaking to their fellow students and the whole ICLA academic community. The first speaker was Fr. Thomas Nhat is currently writing his thesis and a third year student in Biblical Ministry. He shared his reflections on Jeremiah 30:17. The second speaker was Fr. Joseph Hien, a Vietnamese Diocesan priest and a freshly vintaged thesis writer who successfully defended his MA thesis in Biblical Ministry. He shared his reflections on the Pauline text, 2 Cor. 5:17. (Excerpts of their talk can be downloaded below this article).
As Biblical Ministry majors they did their work in providing a brief but comprehensive “world behind the text” and moved on to the “world in front of the text” to address the present context in the world such as the pandemic.
Students felt at home in listening to their fellow students share their reflections on the theme that questions were fielded to the speakers almost to clock deadline. Like the first day, the Opening Prayer was a Bible enthronement with the participation of the different nationalities bringing their Bible translation in their own language (Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Korea, Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam). Like always, we gave thanks to God by celebrating the Eucharist as the high point of the final day of ICLA Bible Week. Sr. Caroline gave her word of thanks to all the participants and the whole ICLA community with its Director, Fr. Prisco Cajes, OFM; CMF professors headed by Fr. Gilbert Queñano, Registrar; and the sponsors for a hearty merienda: Fr. Rey Reyes, Fr. Jun de Peralta and Fr. Noel Tatoy.