Blessed Gabriel Allegra Honoured as Asian Patron of Biblical Apostolate H.K., 30 Jan., 2014

FABC Seminar Concludes with Regional Fellowship for New Evangelization Blessed Gabriel Allegra Honoured as Asian Patron of Biblical Apostolate Hong Kong, 30 January 2014.
FABC Seminar Concludes with Regional Fellowship for New Evangelization Blessed Gabriel Allegra Honoured as Asian Patron of Biblical Apostolate Hong Kong, 30 January 2014.

In commemoration of the first beatification anniversary of Fr. Gabriel Maria Allegra OFM, the United Chinese Catholic Biblical Association's Liaison Secretary, Cecilia Chui, said a recent seminar of the FABC resolved to take the Italian missionary, who was honoured as the St. Jerome of China, as their Patron of Biblical Apostolate. Coinciding with Blessed Gabriel's 38th death anniversary on 26 January, Chui told UCAN that a seminar organized by the FABC Office of Evangelization held from 5 to 7 December 2013 concurrently celebrated Fr. Gabriel's first anniversary of beatification, honouring the Franciscan friar as patron of biblical pastoral ministry. The event also commemorated the 45th birth anniversary of the Chinese Catholic Bible (1968-2013) through the Blessed's revered translation and publication efforts with his foundation of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum.

She continued, "The timely seminar, following the conclusion of the Year of Faith, reflected on Pope Francis' first exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium" (EG), under the theme "Crossing the Borders: Renewed Biblical Apostolate for New Evangelization". According to Chui, the Hong Kong group was invited to design the logo of the seminar, which took place at the Redemptorist Centre in Pattaya, Thailand. It symbolizes the Open Bible leading the way for the participants as heralds and witnesses of the Gospel into the world of Asia, under the patronage of the Mother of God and Blessed Gabriel.

The seminar gathered around 110 participants from 21 countries and territories in Asia, Oceania and Europe, including Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and Germany.

Relating to Pope Francis' call on the proclamation of the Gospel being a missionary church, the first keynote address on "I Have an Obligation to All Peoples" (Rom 1:14) was delivered by the FABC Office of Evangelization Chairman, Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil SDB.

The second keynote speech on "Evangelii Gaudium: Orientation for Biblical Apostolate" was given by Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David, Chairman of the Philippine Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate. Another contribution was offered by Archbishop John Ha, President of the Regional Biblical Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of Singapore-Malaysia-Brunei, on "Biblical Formation of the Laity for New Evangelization".

In connection with "Verbum Domini" (VD) and the FABC Tenth Plenary Assembly Message 2012 on "Renewed Evangelizers for New Evangelization in Asia", the biblical seminar covered wide-ranging topics shared by speakers of different places for international exchange. Some highlights included Bible and Cultures, Biblical-Eco-Spirituality, and Using New Media in Presenting the Scripture.

From the Chinese-speaking region, Chui gave a paper on "Blessed Gabriel Maria Allegra OFM - St. Jerome of China and Asia: Inspiration for Missionary Sharing the Joy of the Gospel". She highlighted some fundamental dimensions of lessons of Blessed Gabriel for Biblical Apostolate today, with reference to "Evangelii Gaudium" (EG), including personal encounter with the saving love of Jesus (EG 264), centred on the Word of God (EG 174-175), empowerment of the laity (EG 102), inculturating the faith (EG 68-69) and passion for mission (EG 80).

In addition, Fr. John Mi Shen, Radio Veritas Asia's Mandarin Service Coordinator, gave an experiential sharing on "Spreading the Gospel of Christ through the 'Little Rock Scripture Study' Program in Mainland China".

Elaborating on the conviction of God's Word is the life and mission of the Church, Fr. Ludger Feldkaemper SVD of Germany gave an input on "Biblical Apostolate and New Evangelization 50 Years after Vatican II - Insights on Roads of the Word Ahead".

The three-day seminar, enriched by daily Lectio Divina and group sharing, concluded with a consensual plan to strengthen collaboration and mutual support through the formation of a regional biblical association under the umbrella of the FABC fellowship.

In addition to continued implementation of the directives of "Verbum Domini", the FABC-OE event concluded with a common commitment to live out the vision of Pope Francis in spreading the Joy of the Gospel under the protection of Mary, Mother of Evangelization with a simple ceremony of conferment of a mission cross designed as a magnetic bookmark with a scriptural text from the Beatitudes to each participant.

Medals and prayer cards of Blessed Gabriel Maria Allegra OFM were distributed to theattendees, seeking the holy priest's intercession for the ministry of the Word.

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