Bandung August 6-10, 2012


The Word invites us to celebrate

The CBF Southeast Asia sub region has a long tradition of organizing a workshop in between two CBF Plenary Assemblies. This 6th CBFSEA Workshop is the third being held in Indonesia. “Verbum Domini” was chosen as the topic of our meeting. The Synod of Bishops on the Word of God was held on October 5-26, 2008, but the document was published only on September 30, 2010. This document is very dear to us. In his written message to the CBFSEA Workshop, Tom Osborne, the CBF acting General Secretary, wrote: “It is in more than one way the fruit of the commitment of the CBF to the biblical apostolate, to biblical pastoral ministry and to the biblical inspiration of all areas of the life and mission of the Church over the years.” In some of our countries this document has been translated in their respective languages and seminars have been conducted to socialize its content.

Some asked whether it was necessary to have a sub regional workshop on Verbum Domini. Over the years we have experienced what Estrella del Mar wrote in her message: “Coming together for Workshops is not just listening to lectures and making plans. It is basically celebrating FRIENDSHIP IN THE WORD.  It is celebrating our unity as South East Asian People who care for each other and willing to help one another.  It’s also celebrating our CULTURES to appreciate how beautiful people are everywhere and how beautiful the good Lord created all of us!  Our gifts, our talents, our uniqueness, our beautiful countries are all God’s gifts.  And we CELEBRATE SUCH GIFTS!  So it is very appropriate that we include in our program, presenting our cultural heritage, our hospitality, our generosity, our love to our FRIENDS!  YES, our Workshops are CELEBRATIONS – CELEBRATION OF THE WORD, Celebration of LIFE, Celebration of FRIENDSHIP.  Is this not the wish of the Father and the prayer of Jesus: ‘That they may all be ONE!’” (John 17:11).

The aim of the workshop is expressed in our Logo:

VERBUM DOMINI IN OUR WORLD TODAY. Verbum Domini, the Word of the Lord is for us engraved in the Holy Book, the Sacred Scriptures which always gets a prominent place in our churches, homes, and above all, in our hearts. The world is our planet earth. The workshop is for South East Asia as partly seen on the logo. The focus is on West Java with the yellow color. Bandung, the venue is situated there. The figure on the left depicts the “RESHI” priest or holy man in the Mahabarata or Ramayana story. The “wayang” is a very old tradition from Hindu times. It is performed by people or by puppets made of clay or leather. The arms are moveable by sticks, controlled by the puppeteer, one who tells the story. The Reshi brings us to prayer, to worship, to communication with God. The Word invites us first of all to listen to the Lord in prayer. The boy on the left is playing the angklung, a traditional bamboo instrument. It brings us to everyday life where the Word has to take root, become flesh and bones, speak to us in joy and sorrow, in sickness and in health. And so we gather as Catholic Biblical Federation South East Asia to live and share the Word and together build God’s Kingdom on earth, a Kingdom of Peace and Harmony, of Justice and Love.

Celebrating the Word

The “celebrants” in a wide sense, meaning all those who took part in the celebration, came from the Philippines (16), Thailand (8), Myanmar (2), Vietnam (2), Cambodia (1) and Indonesia (30). We were graced by the presence of Archbishop Charles Bo from Myanmar, Bishop Vira Apondranata from Thailand, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and Bishop Renato Mayugba from the Philippines. Malaysia was present in spirit only, and an empty chair was the silent witness of their presence.

The celebration of the Word finds its peak in the Eucharist, and the representatives of each country in turn gave it a special colour. It was there that we celebrated our unity as the people of God, nourished by the same Words of life and the Bread of life. It was there that we renewed our covenant sealed by the Blood of our Saviour, and pledged our commitment to proclaim the Good news of God’s love made tangible in Jesus Christ present among us.

We celebrated God our King with a beautiful Bible Enthronement ceremony, in which we were reminded that we can be effective preachers of the Word only if we intently listen to his Word in the Bible. There was a pervading spirit of celebration of our unity and togetherness with the Word in our Bible sharing in small groups. We were reminded that the Risen Lord is walking with us just as he walked with the disciples to Emmaus and that it is best to follow his path from suffering to glory.

The keynote address by Archbishop Charles Bo was like a grand opening song that resonates throughout the whole Workshop. He started with a beautiful story of a king who had four daughters. The king left to a faraway monastery to spend a long time in meditation leaving the four daughters to rule the country. Before leaving he entrusted each one with a gift, a grain of rice. Two daughters kept their gift as valuables, one threw it away; the youngest discovered it was a seed and planted it. She harvested it and planted them again. By the time the king returned, he witnessed a rice field as far as the eye could see, enough to feed the whole population. She was considered worthy to rule the kingdom. The story gave us food for thought. What are we doing with the gift of the Word? Do we just keep it for ourselves, or throw it away or make it grow and multiply?

“Verbum Domini” as he main menu was presented in four sessions with power point, making use of the high-tech gadgets that were used all throughout the workshop (interactive classroom from UK). Bishop Pablo Virgilio David presented the first part, “Verbum Dei” in two sessions; Bishop Renato P. Mayugba did the second part, “Verbum in Ecclesia”, and Dr. Natividad Pagadut the third part “Verbum Mundo” in lieu of Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo who met an accident just a few days before the start of the Workshop. They were all excellent speakers who held the attention of the audience from beginning to last. Many marveled how the book when read alone seems difficult and dry became alive and interesting, and how the speakers in such a short time could make the audience familiar with its content. The talks were followed by open forum and workshops: small group discussions, allowing the participants to share their faith, views, experiences, hopes and fears, and knitting them together as friends in the Word.

Celebrating our cultures

      “Eastern hospitality” was experienced by participants from abroad when they were met at the airport regardless the time. Two groups arrived at the most holy hour at midnight. Sure enough, there were always friends who took care of them and saw to it that they arrived safely and comfortably at the venue.

      The welcoming ceremony was done in Sundanese tradition. “Sunda” (West Java) has a rich ancient culture. The guests were welcomed by dancers and the host. The four bishops representing all the guests received a jasmine garland. Then the whole congregation accompanied by traditional music entered the chapel in procession for the grand opening Mass. The singing accompanied by traditional musical instruments was done by students of the junior high school. Their music teacher is a devout Muslim. A bishop commented that the atmosphere made him feel like being in heaven!

      During the first three days after lunch, there were cultural presentations by children of the basic school who danced and sang and played angklung, bamboo musical instruments. On the forth day we visited “Saung Mang Ujo”, a small village outside Bandung, where dozens of village children give traditional musical and dance performances, and invite guests to join in their dance and play. It was great fun to learn to play the angklung, and several bought an angklung set to play it at home, which they did according to reports.

      During the “Socials” each country had a chance to introduce their folkdances and folksongs. Thus we learn and appreciate the heritage of our friends far and near.

Celebrating life and friendship 

      The work of the Holy Spirit was clearly visible in the joy and openness of each participant that made our togetherness a real feast. Our small excursions to “Saung Mang Ujo”, to the cathedral and shopping center by private cars of our friends, and traveling in group were an opportunity to know each other better and enjoy life.

      The meals were simple, but varied. The menu consisting of much vegetable and fruit and little meat, was highly appreciated. The Javanese use to say that it is not the kind of food you eat, but the company you are with that defines the delicacy of the food. We got new friends, and some even got new ‘mothers’!

Celebrating inter-religious dialogue

      The Cathedral parish in Bandung is renowned for inter-religious dialogue. At our request the parish organized an informal meeting with two prominent Muslim leaders. Fr. Dominador Ramos gives the following impressions:

“The pastoral exposure really was very rich in terms of dialogue between Muslims and
Christians  – it was a first hand experience for me on inter-religious dialogue that Muslims and Christians can live together peacefully respecting one another as in the case of Bandung. It is a wonderful experience sharing on how Christians witness their faith and live the Word and work together with the Islamic community towards peace.

Indonesia is 90% Muslim, the biggest Muslim country… In Bandung, the Muslims respect the Christians as well as the Christians respect the Muslims…

With the sharing I found out that Bandung is a model of inter-religious dialogue – it was an eye opener for me that inter-religious dialogue is really possible and meaningful – that both Scriptures the Quran and the Bible teaches us that we are all brothers and sisters – that we are all taught how to love and care for each other… both Scriptures taught us about love… our love to our God and love our brothers and sisters Muslim and Christian alike

As Mr. Bambang has shared… ‘Fundamentalist must love religion and love prophet Mohammed – as Mohammed loves Jesus and Mary, Muslims too should love Jesus and Mary… when we focus on the similarities, we will find it… and when you search for differences, you will always find it … We are from the same source, the same God. Our differences should be the source of beauty, of appreciating one another, understanding and accepting one another… not to quarrel but to find and appreciate our similarities where we could journey together hand in hand towards peace. Peace is really possible as displayed and experienced in Bandung.’

The pastoral experience indeed gives us the opportunity to know and appreciate each other. The pastoral experience for me changed the negative meaning of the word FUNDAMENTALIST – fundamentalist means we must love our religion but must love other religions as well, not to deny diversity but rather must live with this in diversity… there is really unity in diversity and I have witnessed its beauty in Bandung during the pastoral exposure. I am sure all the participants feel the same.”

Celebrating the good soil

      The seeds have been sown, and they fell on good soil. May this final statement so well formulated by the team yield a rich harvest:



“That which we have seen and heard ,

we proclaim also to you so that you may have also fellowship

with us and our fellowship is with the Father

and with his Son Jesus Christ”

(I Jn 1, 2-3) VD 2.

In the 6th CBF-SEA Workshop, with the theme Verbum Domini: The Word in Our World Today, we the 57 participants from six countries (Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines) came to Bandung, Indonesia, home of the CBF-SEA sub-region coordinator Sr. Emmanuel Gunanto, OSU, for an important event.  We came to celebrate the gift of our life and mission together as CBF-SEA and to move ahead by planning the programs that will implement the exhortations of the Verbum Domini in the contexts of our countries.  This hopefully prepares the CBF-SEA for the celebration of the Year of Faith.

This gathering of five days was a continuous encounter with the Lord walking with us, as in Emmaus (Lk 24, 13-35).  At the heart of this gathering is encountering the risen Lord, teaching us how to pay attention to him who comes to us in new and surprising ways as we walk along the road of discipleship and mission.

The timing of the workshop was perfect.  It began on the feast of Transfiguration and concluded on the feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr.  The Lord’s message to us as biblical pastoral workers was clear:  He wants to transfigure us as servants of the Word and encourage us to give of ourselves cheerfully relying on his providence and assured of the blossoming of his Word.  Indeed the Word of God proclaimed in the liturgy is always living and effective through the power of the Holy Spirit (VD 52) and that from the gospel we discover anew the direction for our journey (VD 51).

We feel fortunate to have been richly nourished through the wisdom of our pastors and speakers who have guided us towards a deeper understanding and appreciation of the message of the papal document.  Their bearing, so expressive of the humble, listening and loving Shepherd, has inspired us.  These experiences, together with our enriching celebration of the Word and the Eucharist, of the reports from the different countries, of fellowship, and of cultural and interreligious exposures, have challenged us to make concrete responses.  Hopefully these will make many others partakers of the same treasures of the Word and of the document.  We therefore believe in pursuing the following, either as CBF-SEA or individual local Church:

1. Translation and Production of Bibles, Programs, documents, Homiletic Aides, Bible References Guide

This is still a priority concern in all SEA countries as the Word is still a privilege of the few and many are left either without it or have to do with one in a language not their own. This goes true for the other pertinent documents such as Verbum Domini, Bible Study Programs, Homiletic Aids and relevant pastoral-biblical ministry materials.

2. On-going Integral Formation of Pastoral-Biblical Workers

The present set of pastoral-biblical workers need an on-going integral formation in line with the thrust of the Verbum Domini.  It is also noted that more workers are to be engaged in the same apostolate and for whom a relevant formation program is to be drafted and implemented.  For all of them, both old and new, an integral pastoral care needs to be extended.

We commend our pastoral biblical workers for their commitment and sacrifices.  There is a need to provide them with skills training, updating, financial assistance, and to encourage more faithful to join them in the task.  We commit to training new co-workers especially from among the young.

3. Formation of the Faithful in the Word of God

Moved by compassion for the multitudes, “sheep without a shepherd”, the  CBF-SEA sees the importance of cascading the life-giving power of the Word through holding of seminars and workshops that will empower the laity.  In many instances, resources run short in order to realize this undertaking.

The means of the mass media cannot be underestimated and therefore every country must try to find ways how to explore and make use of it for the benefit of the proclamation of the Word.  Establishing a web site, producing videos, CD’s, magazines must be seriously considered.

 4. Collaboration with Existing Institutions/Communities

The spirit of collaboration is the heart of the CBF, bringing together the different local and international institutions united by the common concern for the Word.  It is therefore part of the CBF life to bring together these institutions through assemblies and partnerships in the different undertakings. Assemblies in the form of mandated regular gathering of the members and open to associates and guests or for purposes of formation through seminars and workshops may be enriched when done with the help of the expertise available within the SEA and made easier when financial constraints are overcome through generosity of some funding agencies.

We acknowledge the undertakings and programs of every country and we urge them to continue the present initiatives. Pragmatic concerns may come into consideration but the CBF-SEA, well anchored in the providence of God proven in many ways and instances, believes that these programs cannot be hindered or delayed by lack of help from the outside.  With the existing resources within the SEA sub-region, especially in terms of expertise from among our members, much can happen.  Each must be always aware of the urgency to spread the Word, make it understood, the way Jesus commanded his apostles, “Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with coppers for your purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or footwear or a staff, for the laborer deserves his keep” (Mt. 10, 9-10).  Our little contributions like the boy with five loaves of barley bread and two fish (Jn 6, 7-15) will surely bring a lot of fragments to gather and our harmonious working together in the spirit of angklung symphony will produce a liberating music to the spirit.

We thank all those who have made their contributions to make this assembly indeed fruitful. We make special mention of the Ursuline Sisters, the Diocese of Bandung and the members of the Angela Merici Biblical Center and all the other lay collaborators.

May the Lord, through the help of the Virgin Mother, help us prepare the soil and let the seed grow, blossom and yield much fruit.

The Participants headed by

Sr. Emmanuel Gunanto, OSU,

Subregional Coordinator,

10 August 2012.

Celebrating God’s miracles

            After crossing the Sea of Reeds and looking back, the Israelites realized that God had redeemed them with his strong arm and they sang praises to him. And so did we.

Here are the facts: the venue of this Workshop is an old convent built in 1932. The bedrooms are small and austere, meant for novices, not built for comfort. Next is a noisy street with heavy traffic day and night. The hall and refectory are too small. The organizing committee was badly organized (according to the members themselves), and yet, the responses from those who had reached home were overwhelming. Just to mention a few:

      Thanks a lot for your thoughtful concern for us from the time we arrived in Indonesia until we left this lovely country. We really enjoyed the workshop and whatever we received from you and all other members. I hope to see you again. Gratefully, Sister Maria Do Thi Yen, Vietnam

      Sister Mary and I arrived in Vietnam sound and well. Thank you again so much for your hospitality during the workshop at your convent in Bandung. The Final Statement of our Workshop will be a very helpful guide for our biblical apostolate in Vietnam. God bless you and your work. Sincerely yours,

Fr. Joseph Dung, Vietnam

I just arrived home safe and sound and full of energy received from the workshop and I am very grateful to you for offering me the chance to join the workshop. I am very much enriched by my stay in Bandung. Hope to have more chance like that. Please invite me again! With deep esteem,
Archbishop Charles Bo, Myanmar

We all arrived Bangkok safely.  I cannot find the Statement of our Workshop in our computer. May I ask you to send it for me?  Thank you for everything, God bless you, Bishop Vira Arpondratana, Thailand.

Yes, the workshop in Bandung was the best workshop ever that I have attended in terms of support with the local organizers (committees), the warm spirit of every participant, the sincere friendship that we shared, the community life in sharing the Word and the Eucharist, the pervading spirit of celebration of our unity and togetherness with the Word, the humility and availability of the bishops, their well prepared and delivered lectures, the cultural shows and entertainment, the excellent food and accommodation, the high-tech gadgets that were used all throughout the work-shop  (interactive classroom from UK) excellent choice of places for exposure i.e. the Anklung Orchestra, dialogue-sharing of faith experience with our Muslim brothers, the fast and quality service of the support groups etc.. .etc… Again, that was the best workshop I ever attended and served ……..

Fr. Dominador Ramos, Philippines.

            Our workshop brought in a lot of light, and even Randy and Celsa who had time to converse with me in the bus shared about their high spirits and greater resolve after the workshop to work more closely with CBF SEA.  It was indeed a Spirit-filled encounter–thanks to the preparation, the food, the labor of love, the “cheerful giving” that each one has shown in Bandung…. How nice of God to give extra bonuses when what we got from the workshop was already like a cup running over.

Regards to everybody. Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Philippines.

            The Holy Spirit who transforms hearts, was at work in all of us, empowering us to give the very best that we had. It was He who made everything beautiful and perfect. He opened our eyes to see and experience all the good he lavishly bestowed on us. To Him all praise and glory for ever and ever.


Celebrating the future

            What next? Each of us has been given the Word like a grain of rice. We are the good soil. Now we can start planting and nourishing it so that it may yield a good harvest. Our task is then:

–     Apply Verbum Domini in our respective contexts and specific ministries;

–     Exchange materials and resources in the implementation of Verbum Domini to different sectors of our society;

–     Make a common plan or program for Verbum Domini information and implementing the exhortations to different groups and ministries.








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