The Liturgy of the Hours of Ho Chi Minh, Viet Nam

The Liturgy of the Hours of Ho Chi Minh, Viet Nam

CBF member since 1995

By: Estrella (Star) del Mar


Fr. Pascal Paschal Nguyen Ngoc Tinh, OFM, the head of The Liturgy of the Hours Group, sent me a welcoming invitation even before I left for Thailand and Myanmar.  Margaret Nguyen Thi Hong Sen sent me welcoming emails to her house and Fr. Joseph Tran Hoa Hung, SDB duplicated the warm welcome to Viet Nam.  I was so excited to meet the people who compose the Liturgy of the Hours Group and to see Viet Nam, its people and the Catholic Church there.

Fr. Joseph Tran Hoa Hung, SDB often represented the Liturgy of the Hours Group in the CBF workshops, assemblies and meetings.  When I asked him what the Liturgy group is doing, he answered me “Bible Translation”.

The Liturgy of the Hours Group is composed of priests, sisters and laymen who are all Catholics working on translating the Bible and the Liturgy of the Hours book in Vietnamese. They are also publishing the Lectionary in Vietnamese. They got financial help from the United Bible Societies.

Liturgy of the Hours Group-1

These are the members of the Liturgy of the Hours Group:

The pioneers are these first four who started the LHG in 1971: Fr. Pascal Nguyen Ngoc Tinh, OFM, Fr. Albert Tran Phuc Nhan who died in June 2014, Fr. Andrew Do Xuan Que, OP and Fr. Xuan Ly Bang who served until 1975 only.  Of the pioneers, Fr. Pascal and Fr. Andrew are still active members until now.

Liturgy of the Hours Group-2

The Postulants joining the group are the following:

Sr. Agnes Nguyen Thi Canh Tuyết  (2008) ;  Matthew Vu Van Luong, OP    (2010) ; Peter Tran Hung Vinh Quang, OP (2012); Peter Nguyen Tuan Hoan (Lay)  (2013); Paul Nguyen Quang Thanh  (2014)

Liturgy of the Hours Group-3

I am very grateful for their warm hospitality.  I was enriched and inspired by the sharing. I enjoyed the welcome lunch and the despedida lunch with the group.  The group does not only love their work but more so, they enjoy each other’s company and share a friendship that is strengthened by the Word through the years.

Liturgy of the Hours Group-4

Liturgy of the Hours Group-5

Thailand: Bibliodrama Exchange 2014

Thailand: Bibliodrama Exchange 2014

Written by: MissTadsanee Mathurotsuwan

Pictures taken by: Mr.Monsingh   Kraisomsuk


Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana, the president of the Catholic Commission on Catechetical Education – Desk for the Biblical Ministries of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand and Fr. Somkiart Trinikorn, the person in charge of the Bible Commission of the Pastoral Council for the Archdiocese of Bangkok joined forces to organize a seminar on Bibliodrama entitled the Bibliodrama Exchange 2014. Fr. Oscar Alunday, SVD of the Divine Word Missionaries – Philippine Northern Province and Miss Mary Almonte of Notre Dame de Vie  Institute from the Philippines were the guest speakers of the seminar assisted by Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana, Sr. Bang-on Mathurotsuwan of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Bangkok, Teacher Prapa Virasilp of the Commission for Catechetical Education – Desk for Catechesisof the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand, Teacher Tadsanee Mathurotsuwan of the Catechetical Education Department of the Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese of Bangkok and Professor Monsingh Kraisomsuk of the Bible Commission as the event’s coordinator. There were 28 participants in this course, which was promoted and supported by the Bible Commission of the Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese of Bangkok.


These were the objectives of the Bibliodrama Exchange 2014:

  1. To share the different Bibliodrama programs, that were organized in the past in different places in order to learn from the differences and, eventually, improve the skills in the organization of Bibliodrama programs.
  2. To learn new methods from programs applied to different groups so that training participants may be able to apply Bibliodrama to the local culture in a better way.
  3. To listen to the various challenges of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and be able to apply it as a part of Bibliodrama, making it a testimony of the good news that the Gospel brings
  4. To plan for a regular Bibliodrama Exchange training programs in Thailand (every 2 years) to assure continuous training and improvement for facilitators and participants of Bibliodrama in Thailand.


The following topics were discussed in the seminar:

 1. Bibliodrama Thailand team reports (by diocesan team, institute,  congregation).

  • Processes (biblical texts used, new elements / approaches explored)
  • Discoveries from the experiences(mixed groups, adults, youth, kids, indigenous tribes,  in/out of school, ecumenical groups, and religious communities)
  • Collaboration – links with other ministries (bibliodrama and catechetic, bibliodrama elements in seminars / prayers)

 2. And other additional topics

  • New Approaches(solo with local partner, bi‐lingual, with translation& demonstration, with physically impaired groups (sign language), with traumatized groups (use of dolls,symbols, shadows, lights,etc.)
  • Bibliodrama Inculturation(meanings of symbols, colors, gesture, workshop on cultural dance/gestures using Bibliodrama elements)
  • Bibliodrama Journey to the Past (Jewish Dance, my joys in Bibliodrama, my struggles in Bibliodrama)
  • Sharing of Best Practices in Bibliodrama (creative module making)

At the end of the Bibliodrama Exchange seminar, the guest speakers suggested the BIBLIOLOGUE method as an approach – a bibliodrama element, APPRECIATIVE COMMUNICATION(I thank you, I’m sorry, I hope that…) and INTERVIEW.

Bibliodrama-3Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana also took this occasion to present the topic Evangelii Gaudium and the BiblicalPastoral Ministry “The Holy Father’s dream in this apostolic exhortation is for the Catholic Church to move ahead in reviving the pastoral and missionary work both in the personal and public life that is the capacity to change habits, lifestyle, language and the many comforts of life geared towards the spreading of the Gospel rather than protecting one’s self.   (Self-preservation)”  (EG 27)

After this session, there was a group discussion and they were given a question which they can reflect on and share their insights.

The question was: As a teacher, a catechist, a religious, a trainer, a lay person, a youth leader and a person in charge of the Bible Commission, how can you promote or help turn the proposal of the apostolic exhortation of the Holy Father into a reality?

The session was then followed by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to conclude the seminar and certificates were distributed by Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana. The entire Bible Commission and all the seminar participants intend to continue the exchange of ideas, sharing of experiences and proposal of alternatives in the future following the guest speakers’ suggestions. On the 21st to 23rd of July 2015, information about the next event will be disseminated.

We thank the entire Bible Commission, our guest speakers and everyone who sent their staff to participate in this seminar. May God bless all of you!


Various Impressions on the Bibliodrama Exchange 2014 Seminar



Maria Natthawadi Choepo

Maria Natthawadi Choepo

Maria Natthawadi Choepo, an Akha who is a catechist at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Ngao District of the Province of Lampang

The Bibliodrama Exchange 2014 seminar was a synthesis, a way of sharing and a review of what we have learned from the other participants. It was a way to encourage each other reciprocally. The speakers reassured us that we can apply Bibliodrama anytime. It was a discovery of God in a simple and natural way like when we see each other every day. I hope that there would be another Bibliodrama Exchange seminar in order to review what we have learned and to provide the participants a chance to stay still and commune with God through His Words.

Thanks to God for this seminar because I was able to find quietude and God in a simple way. I pray that the love and peace of God may be with all of us.

Margarita Kommala Suriyapongpraphai

Margarita Kommala Suriyapongpraphai

Margarita Kommala Suriyapongpraphai, a catechist at St. Peter School at Samphran

I felt that this seminar seemed like a retreat. It was an occasion of reflection through the Word of God as the center of contemplation. At the same time,we learned varied techniques in sharing the message of the Bible to others in a lively way. Personally, I intend to use these forms in sharing the Word of God to students and parish community under my responsibility so that they too may experience the Word of God in their hearts and find happiness in those words.

Sr. Kanlaya Trisopha

Sr. Kanlaya Trisopha

Sr. Kanlaya Trisopha, Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Bangkok

This Bibliodrama course was excellent. It helped us to learn how to integrate the Bible and the Lectio Divina and how to read the Bible by using together your mind, heart and body. We learned to read it in a lively way through the use of bodily movements in sync with the music. In this way we were able to reach a more profound contemplation. When we were focused on the steps or movements, we were able to remain quiet with better concentration. It is something that we can also apply in reflective prayers.  This course helped us to revitalize our physical and spiritual life,

definitely another form of harnessing the power of the Bible in improving Christian life.Teachers and trainers who participated in the seminar can apply this technique in teaching catechism and prayers and in organizing seminars with various topics for different groups made up of either adults or children. It is an effective means to liven up the training courses. Special thanks to Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana for introducing this new way of reading the Bible.

Ms. Sumalee Mukpaksacharoen

Ms. Sumalee Mukpaksacharoen

Ms. Sumalee Mukpaksacharoen, Thailand Catholic Society for the Deaf under the Department of Christian Laity of the Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese of Bangkok.

I was very impressed. For me who is a deaf person, I would only remember a little even if I study the Bible every week. But after this seminar, dancing to the music and the presentation of a play based on a part of the Bible, which are all a novelty for me, helped me to understand better the Holy Scriptures. They also helped me to reflect more on the Word of God in our own lives. In one of the workshops while we were dancing we were holding hands. When I placed my hand on the hand of the other and the other person placed her hand on mine, I felt the love of the brother or sister whose life is centered on God. I did not study much like normal people did, so when we were asked to go around and look for one word from a variety of different words from the Bible, I was worried at first because I did not understand anything. But I felt that the Holy Spirit helped me to understand the various words and choose well. I chose the word “back (come back)”. When I saw that word, I thought of my daughter who was not baptized into the Catholic faith. I want her to have her conversion. I will pray hard so that she too may become a Catholic.

Written by: MissTadsanee Mathurotsuwan

Pictures taken by: Mr.Monsingh   Kraisomsuk

Bishop Vira Sows Seeds

Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana

CBFSEA’s Most Active Member and Collaborator in Thailand

Bishop ViraThe bishop of Thailand’s northernmost diocese, which is largely rural and dominated by hill tribes, has begun himself working in the fields alongside his flock, noting the importance of agriculture there.
“I try to understand the farmers, and to promote Catholic social teaching so that they can contribute to a holistic human development, can work for the common good of their family and for the entire nation,” Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana of Chiang Mai told CNA.
The diocesan economy is largely agricultural, and the mountainous region lacks many amenities such as electricity and modern communications and highway infrastructure.
Relating how he began to work in the rice fields with his tribal flock, he said that “in fact, I did not want to work in the field, but I would like to support them; and one of the local nuns encouraged me, asking, ‘bishop why don’t you work with us?’”
And so Bishop Arpondratana took to the rice paddies with gusto.
“When someone asks, I would like to open my heart and mind and be with them,” he explained.
His work with farmers has inspired both them and catechists in the Chiang Mai diocese. He has organized a Lenten rice campaign in the diocese centered on prayer, penance, and alms giving.
The bishop is concerned for the local people, and is helping develop a strong sense of solidarity among the local ethnic groups: “I am aware of the economic situation of Europe, so we cannot ask help from there. We have to make the local people understand they must help each other locally, and not only receive help from afar.”
Bishop Arpondratana, 58, was ordained a priest of the Bangkok archdiocese, 430 miles south of Chiang Mai, in 1981, and served there until his appointment as bishop in 2009.
Full Story: Thai bishop sows seeds of evangelization in mission diocese

Read more at:

CBF-SEA Members Attended BIBA IV of the FABC in Thailand



December 5-7, 2013 at the Redemptorist Center, Pattaya City, Chonburi, Thailand

Seminar on Biblical Apostolate and New Evangelization of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC) Office of Evangelization

Bishops Institute on the Biblical Apostolate (BIBA) IV

OFFICIAL GROUP PICTUREThe seminar was attended by more than 100 participants from different parts of Asia.  There were Bishops, Priests, Sisters, Brothers, Lay People involved in the Biblical Apostolate.  The lay people comprised half of the participants.  The invitation was given out by the Executive Secretary of FABC-OE, Fr. Jacob Theckanath.  He was delighted by the overwhelming response to participate in this seminar that he had to change the venue from the Camillian Retreat House in Bangkok to a bigger one at the Redemptorist Center in Pattaya City.

The topics were very attractive, enriching and interesting for further discussions and sharing.  They were the following:

1.  “I have an Obligation to All Peoples” by Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, SDB,  Chairman, FABC-OE.  Archbishop Emeritus Thomas shared with the participants his acceptance speech when he was conferred an honorary Doctoral Degree on Missiology by the Urbaniana University in Rome, Italy on November 14, 2013.  Here, he shared his missionary experiences, the values guiding his work, and his work plan to reach out as much as he can – indeed to “all peoples” as St. Paul did in his time.

Menamparampil,“Crossing the borders” as a missionary to diverse cultures and peoples not so much to teach his own concepts but to lead them to understand these by using the people’s own specific cultural vision of things.

He introduced “the Mission of Anger-Reduction since some obstacles to missionary effort are prejudices, memories of historic injuries and perceived vested interests.  It is part of evangelical work to heal the memories of historic wounds at the ethnic, cultural, national and even civilizational levels” – he said.

He also said that “As long as the more challenging dimensions of the Gospel are seen as arbitrary clerical impositions, they become hard to accept.  But if they can be presented as evangelical demands essential for personal and community growth, acceptance becomes easier.”

 2. “Biblical Formation of the Laity for New Evangelization” by Archbishop John Ha of the Archdiocese of Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

Archbishop John talked about New Evangelization as used by Pope John Paul II by which he meant proclaiming the Gospel with new ardour, new method and new expression.  The idea behind it is to make the Gospel relevant to the current generation. The scope of the new evangelization ranges from pre-evangelization to primary evangelization to re-evangelization and to on-going faith formation.  But the content of the new evangelization does not change – it is the same Gospel which Jesus Christ proclaimed and entrusted to His apostles to proclaim, more than two thousand years ago.

Bishop John HaHe further explained the elements for understanding “New Evangelization” and the New Evangelization in the Acts of the Apostles.

He shared the four-week lived-in Youth Formation (K.A.Y.A.) which stands for Kuching Archdiocesan Youth Apostolate.  They have been running this program every year for the past 21 years and it is getting very popular.  It aims at forming participants into Christ’s disciples and evangelists through self-knowledge and knowledge of Christ.

They have also a Bible Course for the Laity.  It is a 3-year course run on a two-hour class per week for 3 years and leading to a Diploma.  The course has 3 levels: basic, intermediate and advance.

Another study program is “The Great Adventure Bible Study Programme” designed by Jeff Cavins and his team. It starts off with a “Foundation Series” and continues with studies of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.  The lecture does simple text analysis, with cross-references to other relevant biblical texts and references also to the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well as Church practices especially the Liturgy.

From these three experiences of biblical pastoral ministry that he has in the Archdiocese of Kuching, it has become increasingly clear that biblical formation of the laity must balance academic knowledge with spiritual application to make the Scripture come alive as the Word of God for life.

 3. “Spreading the Gospel of Christ through the ‘Little Rock Scripture Study’ Program in Mainland China” by Fr. John Mi Shen of Zhaoxian Diocese, China.

The Little Rock Scripture Study began in the seventies of the last century that was developed by the laity of the Diocese of Little Rock in Arkansas, in the United States.  The program consists of 40 modules, drawn from the whole Bible.  Learners are encouraged to take “repeated reading” and do “exercises” of related passages so that the Word is instilled into the learners’ heart and life and change their lives.

In 2008, the Little Rock Scripture Study program was first introduced into Mainland China by Anthony Ng and his team – all belong to a Malaysian Chinese Catholic Group Mustard Seed Evangelization Center.  They started in Guanzhou and Xi’an.  Due to the shortage of Chinese materials and lack of follow-ups, the program was launched without success.

In August 2010, with the assistance of Fr. John Mi Shen of Zhaoxian diocese (Hebei province),  the Mustard Seed Center has brought LRSS program back to China again and received positive responses.  Several graduates of Yiwu community volunteered to promote the LRSS program elsewhere in Mainland China.

Since this way of Bible-reading and doing exercises counts mostly on the efforts of individuals, it was found that it could be convenient way for Catholics living in urban areas.  The large group gatherings and sharing will highlight the communal dimension of the Little Rock Program, enabling a more effective way to witness the learners’ experience and interpretation of Scripture.

A member of the group of Fr. John Mi Shen shared with the participants (with Fr. John as the interpreter), how Scripture and the program, has changed his life and his outlook in life that he wants to continue to be an apostle of the Word.  That was really a touching sharing that was appreciated by the participants.

 4. “St. Paul New Evangelization and Biblical Pastoral Ministry” by Fr. Thomas Manjaly of India.

For St. Paul, to ‘evangelize’ was to “bring about the accomplishment of the Gospel of Christ” (Rom 15:9) or “to make the Word of God fully known” (Col 1:25), because in the Gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith” (Rom 1:16)

The parental responsibility required of Paul that he nurtured his ‘children’ through personal example for imitation (1Cor 4:16).  As their ‘father’ he tried to embody Jesus in himself and give visibility to Christian life for his ‘children’ to see and to imitate.  Hence, he could make a genuine claim that he was mediating Christ and appeal to the communities.

Evangelization, therefore, is a person to person approach sharing a Christ-experience.

5. “Cross Cultural Bible Apostolate in Thailand” by Prof. Kirti Bunchua of Thailand.

Doing Biblical Apostolate in Thailand considers the Thai philosophy and way of thinking.  Bible Apostolate is a means to understand God.  To understand God is not the same as to love God.  To love God does not require knowing Bible Apostolate but requires something of God.

There is a need for a dialogue between the Buddhist way and the Christian way.  Words may be misinterpreted or misunderstood but a living witness to Christ can say everything.

 6. “Evangelii Gaudium of Pope Francis:  Orientations for Biblical Apostolate” by Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of the Diocese of Pampanga, Philippines.

Bishops David and Tirona with Philippine Delegation“Biblical Apostolate” as such does not really figure among the concerns of Pope Francis in his post-synodal exhortation on the new evangelization, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).  The lengthy part that he devotes to the Scriptures in Chapter Three of the said document has to do, not with Scriptures as such, but with the challenge to evangelize anew, i.e., to proclaim the Word of God in the contemporary setting, especially in the pastoral task of preaching.  In that chapter, Pope Francis reaffirms what the earlier Vatican II Dei Verbum and the Post-synodal exhortation Verbum Domini already did—namely, the call for “a greater ‘biblical apostolate’, not alongside other forms of pastoral work, but as a means of letting the Bible inspire all pastoral work”.  (DV 24, Propositio 30 Synod 2008, VD)

“New Evangelization in the Light of the Scriptures” –  It is evangelizing that must draw light from Scriptures, not the Scriptures from evangelizing.

David-Star-EmmanuelIn the Bible you have the greatest stories ever told—the story of salvation.  Our mission is to teach people how tell the tragic and otherwise absurd stories of their lives into stories of salvation by viewing them in the light of the story of Jesus, God’s story of redemption.”   Hope is something all people look for in the midst of the great temptation to despair.  Hope is what evangelization is about, not proselytization; it is what evangelization really has to offer—a good news!

New evangelization is about helping people reflect on human experience with the basic aspiration:  “How do I make sense of it? What is the meaning of it all?  What is God saying to me/us?  How am I/are we invited to respond?”  The Scriptures are there to help us hear God speaking to us in contemporary human experience.  They are like a hearing aid that mitigates the human deafness to God’s voice, God’s messages.

 7. “Biblical Apostolate and New Evangelization 50 years after Vatican II” – Insights on Roads of the Word Ahead” by Fr. Ludger Feldkaemper, SVD of Germany.

100_3019Fr. Ludger had been very much involved in the Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF) as General Secretary for many years.  He had increased the number of members of CBF during his term, inspiring and encouraging more people and groups to be engaged in the Biblical Pastoral Ministry.  CBF was born in 1969 to assure that the directives of the Vatican Council II concerning “Sacred Scriptures in the Life of the Church” (Chapter 6 of Dei Verbum) would be put into practice.

After Dei Verbum was Pope Paul’s Ad Gentes then Evangelii Nuntiandi on Evangelization in the Modern World.  In 1993 the document on “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” – a commentary for all practical purposes on chapters III and VI of Dei Verbum was a special interest for those involved in the biblical pastoral ministry.  The Synod on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church in 2008, Pope Benedict fulfilled the CBF desire since its Plenary Assembly of Bangalore in 1984.  The post synodal exhortation Verbum Domini published on September 30, 2010 can be considered the handbook for the implementation of the Council’s directives on Sacred Scripture not only on the Life but also the Mission of the Church!

Now, we have the “Joy of the Gospel” that fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. We are all “missionary disciples”!

8. “Greening the Catholic Church Today: Bringing to the Fore a Biblical Eco-Spirituality in the Era of the New Evangelization” by Prof. Lysander P. Rivera of the Philippines.

Prof. Rivera spoke about the global phenomenon of Climate Change with its effect on several calamities that affected the different parts of the Philippines and its recent strong impact on the people of the Visayas with Typhoon Haiyan.

Pope John Paul II paved the way for the ecological awareness and conversion to take its rightful place in the Social Teachings of the Church.  In 1971, through the Social Encyclical Octagesima Adveniens, Pope Paul VI identified environmental issues as an urgent and wide-ranging social issue that concerns the whole human family and thereby urged all Christians to take responsibility for the future.

Entitled “Peace with God the Creator; Peace with all of creation, the message of Pope John Paul II exhorts all Christians to treat all living species on earth with utmost respect, for they, too, possess the same dignity that we have as “children of God”.  Furthermore, the Pope laments the reality in today’s world, “the dramatic threat of ecological breakdown is teaching us the extent to which greed and selfishness – both individual and collective – are contrary to the order of creation an order which is characterized by mutual interdependence.

9. “Using Media in Presenting the Scripture:  Challenges and Possibilities” by Mr. Manoj Sunny

It was an interesting and entertaining presentation using powerpoint slides, music video, dance video, the popular social networks, websites, SMS, Podcasts, and Blogs as the way of communication especially among young people.  Many people use emails.  There are web-based Scripture reflections.  The Marian prayer (Rosary and Angelus) is an aid to meditating on the holy mysteries found in the Scriptures.  Pilgrimages to the Holy Land are encouraged.

He asked “What if the Bible is as important as our cellphones?”

The key question for today’s world is “Is it real?” not “Is it true?”

People’s lives are more likely to be changed through the heart than through the mind.  It is here that the word of God brings about transformation in the lives of people.

There are great possibilities as well as challenges in our ministry, let us encourage people to become increasingly familiar with the Sacred Scriptures using every means at our disposal.

 10. “Lessons from Blessed Gabriel for Biblical Apostolate Today” by Ms. Cecilia Chui of Hong Kong.

Cecilia Chui

Cecilia Chui Celebrates Birthday in Pattaya, Thailand

Blessed Gabriel Maria Allegra, OFM is the St. Jerome of China and Asia.  As an Italian missionary to China, he took pains to study and learn the Chinese language.  He translated the Bible from its original languages to Chinese so that it can be easily accessible to the Chinese people.

He modeled to the people “Ordinary Holiness” – to live their ordinary lives in an extraordinary way.  He is also an example of “crossing the borders” from Italy to China.

The theme on “Crossing the Borders: Renewed Biblical Apostolate for New Evangelization” was successfully realized in this seminar.  Lectio Divina, Eucharistic Celebrations, Morning Prayers, Bibliodrama prayer dances, individual and group sharings made the encounters more meaningful and enriching.  We had crossed the border of language, culture and distance.  We inspired each other in the biblical pastoral ministry.  Many wanted to form an association of individuals involved in the Biblical Apostolate in Asia-Oceania.

The CBF members of Asia-Oceania who were participants, had a 3 hours meeting after the seminar on December 8.  It was agreed that every country, organized by the full member, will continue to reflect and discuss the Theme for the next Plenary Assembly in 2015; CBF Constitution and its possible amendments for the next PA.  The region’s nominee for CBF President is Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, DD of the Philippines.  The region’s nominee for CBF General Secretary is Fr. Jacob Theckanath.  There are other nominees from the other regions as well.  The group will also discern on how to strengthen the region and the sub-regions in terms of structure, personnel and system. These will be shared with the other countries of the region.  We shall find a common stand and decide accordingly.

Indeed, the FABC-OE Seminar on Biblical Apostolate & New Evangelization and the BIBA IV was a big success!  We had crossed the borders of Mainland China, Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, Thailand, Korea, Japan, India, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Australia, Tonga, Haiti, Samoa and even Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.

We have strengthened our respective Biblical Apostolates/Ministries through the conferences, sharing and celebrations.  We have renewed our commitment for a New Evangelization with its new ardour, new in its methods and new in its expression.  With the lay people comprising half of the participants, New Evangelization needs to be practical, relevant and contextual to their daily lives!

A big “THANK YOU” to the Funding Agencies supporting this event, the Speakers, the Facilitators, the Moderators of each day, Liturgy groups (Sr. Emma Gunanto who prepared our Lectio Divina guide, Menchie Rojas for the morning prayers & Cecilia Chui), the logistics committee, documentation and all those who in one way or another who had contributed to the success of this seminar.

Fr RossaSpecial thanks for Fr. Alberto Rossa, CMF of the Claretian Publications who gave for free to each one of the participant a copy of Pope Francis’ “Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel”!

Thank you to Fr. Michael, CSsR and the Redemptorist Center Community and Staff for providing us with comfortable rooms, delicious food and friendly service.

Thanks to Fr. Jacob Theckanath who is the man behind the organization of this Seminar!

God bless you all and MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Star del Mar

Cebu Lay Formation Center


Sr. Emma Gunanto, OSU

CBF-SEA Sub-regional Coordinator

Bandung, Indonesia

Fr. Doms Ramos, SVD


Dagupan, Pangasinan, Phil.

Congratulations to the New Secretary General of the CBF

Father Jan Jacek Stefanów, SVD

Father Jan Jacek Stefanów, SVD

appointed new CBF General Secretary.

The CBF Executive Committee has recently

appointed Fr. Jan Stefanow SVD

 to the office of general secretary of the CBF.

(latest BDV digital)

Our Heartfelt Gratitude to

Prof. Thomas P. Osborne




Merry Christmas Emma

National Seminar Workshop in Myanmar

National Seminar Workshop

 The Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate Myanmar


The Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate in Myanmar will be having their National Seminar Workshop soon and we assure them of our full support and prayers as we journey with them in their quest for peace and harmony as a people. BA Myanmar is a full member and we share to you their concerns as our brother, the national coordinator writes:

“We are going to have our National Seminar Workshop for building peace in the light of the Bible on July 6- 12, 2013. We need peace and harmony in the country among different religions and ethnic groups. The aim of the Seminar is to find some solutions for peace.

This is also our regular national meeting held every six months for all those who are active in biblical ministry to encourage one another, especially  because our ministry is still very young.  We expect more than 80 participants from different dioceses. But we have no funds and there is no response from the KIM yet. It is difficult to get local support too. We do not have other ways and means.

 peace 2The participants come from very far places. It is difficult for them even to pay for their own traveling expenses. I will have to go about 400 miles to reach the place too. The roads are still bad in many areas. Traveling is still difficult for mountaineers although better compared to before. There is little possibility to get support from our group. I have to choose a convent for our venue.  Anyhow I trust in God and his providence. Kindly keep us in your prayer.

 We recently produced a new album in Burmese with biblical songs, mainly for seminars. Thanks be to God!”

 The Catholic Biblical Federation then of Southeast Asia unites with those who will be attending during this historic event organized by the Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate of Myanmar. We will be with you in spirit and in prayer in your pilgrim journey towards peace and harmony inspired by the Word of God.


– the coordinating team of CBF-SEA


The Word to Lead New SVD General Council (2012-2018)

The Word to Lead New SVD General Council (2012-2018):

Congrats to Fr. Heinz and Thanks to Fr. Tony


The Pope was greeted by Fr. Heinz

Hearty congratulations to Fr. Heinz Kulüke, the Provincial of the Philippine Southern (PHS) Province in Cebu, elected as the 11th Superior General of the SVD in this 175th birth anniversary year of the Society’s founder, St. Arnold Janssen, in 2012.

The 17th SVD General Chapter, held at the Ad Gentes Center in Nemi, was also specially graced with the historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI on 9 July, six days after the announcement of Fr. Heinz as the new head of the congregation. Outgoing Superior General, Fr. Tony Pernia, welcomed the Pope to the Ad Gentes Center and recalled the distinct connection between the center and the Second Vatican Council. It was at the Ad Gentes Center that the draft of the document on the Church’s mission to the world “Ad Gentes” was prepared in 1965 by the commission headed by the then SVD Superior General, Fr. Johannes Schütte. The Pope was a “peritus” (= expert) of that commission as a young theologian.

The Holy Father said: “I have often thought of those days in Nemi which for me were an essential part of the experience of the Council. And I’m happy to see that your Congregation flourishes. Father General spoke of six thousand members in so many countries, from so many nations. Clearly the missionary dynamism is alive, and it is alive only if there is the joy of the Gospel, if we experience of the good that comes from God and that must be and desires to be communicated.”

 “Thank you for this dynamism of yours. I wish you during this Chapter every blessing of the Lord, a lot of inspiration: that the same inspiring impulses of the Holy Spirit that accompanied us almost visibly during those days may be present among you and help you find the direction for your congregation, and also for the mission of the Gospel ad gentes for the coming years.”

 During his first homily given as the fresh new Superior General on 3 July, Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, Fr. Heinz gave an inspiring sharing in answer to this question: What does God want the Society and me to do within the years to come? “We know that genuine change will only happen if we allow the Lord to come back into the center – through Jesus Christ the whole structure is held together.” (cf. Eph 2:19-22)

Sr. Emma Gunanto ( Indonesia ), Estrella “Star” del Mar (Cebu) and Cecilia Chui ( Hong Kong ) happily met Fr. Heinz on the Feastday of St. Arnold in 2010

Friends of the Word based in the Philippines, Indonesia and Hong Kong recalled fondly meeting Fr. Heinz, the God-desired next SVD Superior General after Fr. Tony, during the closing celebration of the 100th death anniversary of St. Arnold held at the Adoration Chapel of Divine Peace (where the Pink Sisters station) on 15 January, 2010 in Cebu.

Pope Benedict’s gracious visit to Nemi on 9 July, Feast of the Chinese Martyrs and Saints, mentioned his remembrance of the 6th SVD Superior General, Fr. Johannes Schütte, as a person full of missionary zeal who had suffered in China. This highlight brought back memories of Fr. Tony’s visit to Hong Kong and Macau after his attendance at the celebration of SVD’s centennial presence in the Philippines in August 2009. That year also marked the 130th anniversary of St. Joseph Freinademetz’s arrival to Hong Kong in 1879, preparing for his future pioneer lifetime SVD missionary work in Shandong, China that commenced in 1881.

Fr. Tony was accompanied by Fr. Frank Budenholzer, Provincial Superior of the SVD China Province, for the visit to the SVD community set up in Macau since 2007. The programme also included a lunch gathering with Bishop José Lai of the Diocese of Macau. On their way back to Hong Kong from Macau, Frs. Tony and Frank enjoyed a fellowship meal with some SVD confreres, plus the presence of Cecilia Chui as guest, at the SVD House in Boundary Street. As a meaningful remembrance for their visit to Hong Kong, where St. Joseph had lived for two years (1879-1881), Cecilia offered a Chinese silk painting each to Fr. Tony and Fr. Frank.

It is interesting to note that both Fr. Tony and Fr. Heinz, as the immediate past and the new Superior Generals respectively, were from the SVD PHS Province. Looking back, the 100th death anniversary year of St. Arnold (1837-1909) in 2009 also spiritually connected with SVD’s missionary presence in the Philippines for a century (1909-2009). In one of his addresses made at the Philippine SVD Centennial event, with the adopted theme “We Remember… We Rejoice… We Renew”, in August 2009, Fr. Tony highlighted the Prologue of the SVD Constitutions: “God’s loving grace has gathered us from various peoples and continents into a religious missionary community dedicated to the Divine Word and named after him: The Society of the Divine Word …. We see our special dedication to the Divine Word and his mission expressed in our name. His life is our life, his mission our mission…. We perform our missionary service one in mind and heart with the Divine Word who offers us a living example of loving dedication to the Father and selfless service of others.”

Cecilia presented a Chinese silk painting of “Our Lady of China ” to Fr. Tony, who said it would be framed for display at the St. Joseph Freinademetz Center of the SVD Collegio in Rome

Fr. Tony described beautifully the image of the SVD and all those associated with the SVD – “Persons of the Word”, in two senses. First, a disciple of Jesus and a follower of the Divine Word, who is God’s ongoing dialogue with the world. And secondly, a person who is true to his word, who keeps his word, who “walks his talk”, who lives a coherent and integral life. We are missionaries because we wish to be witnesses to the fact that God keeps his word and is faithful to his promises.

Fr. Tony’s elaboration on “Persons of the Word” resonates with Fr. Heinz’s homily and personal sharing made in Nemi following his election as the 11th Superior General: “Holding such an office requires great trust in God and His very special blessings as well as the constant prayers of confreres around the globe.” “Persons of the Word” – that was what Arnold Janssen, Joseph Freinademetz, and our Blessed Martyrs were. Going forward, may we continue be “Persons of the Word” – persons whose lives and actions are many different words which echo the Word of God, the Divine Word, Jesus Christ.

In 2012, the new SVD General Council has emerged in the 50th anniversary year of holding the Second Vatican Council called by the great Blessed Pope John XXIII. Though he was called to eternal rest by God (in 1963) before the Council concluded, the Blessed Pope gave this insightful message: “The moment has come to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity and to look far ahead.”

Reflecting on the theme of the 17th SVD General Chapter – “From Every Nation, People and Language: Sharing Intercultural Life and Mission”, Fr. Heinz is convinced that “a lived intercultural spirituality also inspired by the Lay we work and live with, can be a unique contribution to people’s life wherever we work.”

 The relay of Word-oriented leadership from Fr. Tony (2000-2012) to Fr. Heinz (2012-2018) will start in Steyl at the tomb of St. Arnold in mid-September. Then on Fr. Heinz’s 56th birthday on 29 September, Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, the new SVD General Council will commence its God-entrusted mission in Rome. Fr. Heinz summed up his envisioned spirit of team leadership for the next six years with the following quote from Deus Caritas Est: “In all humility we will do what we can, and in all humility we will entrust the rest to the Lord. It is God who governs the world, not we. We offer him our service only to the extent that we can, and for as long as he grants us the strength. To do all we can with what strength we have, however, is the task which keeps the good servant of Jesus Christ always at work: “The love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor 5:14).” (Pope Benedict, Section 35)

Agape meal with Frs. Tony and Frank (second from right) at the SVD House in Boundary Street , Kowloon , Hong Kong

Congratulations and abundant blessings to Fr. Heinz in his new responsibility with vision and dynamism! Deep thanks to Fr. Tony for his tremendous services and well-appreciated contributions in the past 12 years! May the Light of the Word and the Spirit of Grace continue to lead the SVD forward in fulfilling God’s Holy Will!