Goa Archdiocese Empowers Faithful Through Biblical Formation

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Goa Archdiocese Empowers Faithful Through Biblical Formation

Goa: “The Diocesan Centre for Biblical Apostolate (DCBA) of the Indian Archdiocese of Goa and Daman organized Bible courses in five parishes and a religious monastery for the Pastoral Year 2023-2024. A total of 769 participants completed the courses and were eligible to receive the Diploma Certificate.

The objectives of the course were to promote meditative reading of the Bible in families and individually, create awareness among the faithful about the purpose of revelation, help the faithful pray with the Bible, assist them in discovering the liberating power of the Word of God, and foster the development of a prophetic community within the Church.

The main theme covered during the courses was the New Testament. In addition to lectures by resource persons, participants engaged in group studies and answered two questionnaires.

The resource persons included Fr Simião Fernandes, Director of the Pastoral Institute in Old Goa; Fr Aron Magalhães, Assistant Director of St. Joseph Vaz Spiritual Renewal Centre, Old Goa; Fr Onasis D’Cruz, Assistant Director of St. Joseph Vaz Spiritual Renewal Centre, Old Goa; and Fr Mariano D’Costa, Director of the Diocesan Centre for Biblical Apostolate.

The courses took place at various parishes, including St. Anthony Church in Panchadi, Our Lady Mother of God Church in Saligão, St. Stephen’s Church in Santo Estevao, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Arambol, and St. Francis Xavier’s Church in Bhatpal and Carmelite Monastery in Margao. These courses were held in the evenings throughout the week in different locations during the pastoral year.

The course held in Saligão Church also included participants from Reis Magos, Calangute, Nagoa (Bardez), Vagator, and Candolim. The Margao monastery had participants from the faithful of Salcete taluka. The course at Bhatpal was organized for the parishioners from the Canacona deanery. Parishioners from Mandrem, Querim, and Corgão joined the course held at Arambol.

His Eminence Archbishop Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrão presided over the Eucharistic Celebration of the Diploma Ceremony at St. Anthony’s Church, Panchavadi. Fr Lucio Dias, Episcopal Vicar for the South Zone, and Fr Denis Fernandes, Episcopal Vicar for the North Zone, also led Eucharistic celebrations on the Diploma Day at the Carmelite Monastery, Margao and at Saligão Church, respectively. Mariano D’Costa, Director of the Diocesan Centre for Biblical Apostolate, served as the main celebrant for the Eucharistic celebration for the Diploma ceremony at St. Stephen’s Church, Santo Estevao. Whereas the Diploma Ceremony is yet to be held in Bhatpal and Arambol.

Reflecting on his involvement in organizing Bible courses within the Archdiocese for the faithful, Fr Mariano D’Costa, the Director of the Diocesan Centre for Biblical Apostolate said: “One thing is very encouraging is that these courses for parishioners are asked by the Parish Priest or Dean for the Deanery. They take the initiative and also organize. That means they feel the need for Biblical faith formation of their parishioners.”

Fr D’Costa noted the remarkable dedication of participants to the sessions despite the challenges of committing to weekly two-hour gatherings. He observed a profound hunger for the Word of God among the laity, evident in their faithful attendance and heartfelt engagement with the material.

He shared testimonials from course attendees, recounting experiences of strengthened faith, resolved doubts, and even instances of divine intervention in healing broken relationships.

“Many have emerged from the courses as devoted followers of Jesus, living their lives illuminated by the teachings of Scripture, fostering deep spiritual growth,” Fr D’Costa said.

Fr D’costa expressed his appreciation for the support and guidance provided by Archbishop Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrão, conveying heartfelt gratitude for his leadership in advancing the mission of Biblical education within the Archdiocese.

 

Simitra Rodrigues from Assolna, who participated in the Bible Course held at the Carmelite Monastery, Margao, said: “Joining the Bible study allowed me to get an in-depth understanding of the salvation history. “I got to learn from his experience the context and significance of the various events described in the Bible and the relationship of the Old Covenant with the New,” said Simitra. As she is deeply involved in sharing the Word, particularly through counseling cancer patients, Simitra said that this Bible study has fortified her ability to spread the Gospel’s message with even greater love and compassion.

“The course on the Gospel of Matthew provided me with a deeper understanding of its historical and cultural context,” expressed Bellaxa Afonso, a parishioner of St. Stephen’s Church, Santo Estevam, who was one of the participants for the Bible Course held in her parish Reflecting on her experience, she elaborated that the course strengthened her faith and fostered a closer relationship with God. Delving into the explanations of the parables, she discovered valuable lessons in patience, realism, avoidance of judgment based on outward appearances, and the recognition of equality within the kingdom of God.

Natty Fernandes, a Parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Arambol, expressed her initial struggle with understanding the Bible despite reading it daily. However, she found clarity through a Bible course organized by DCBA in their parish, which enlightened her mind. “Now, I find reading the Bible interesting and comprehensible,” said Natty, who participated in the course in her Parish. She advocates for similar courses to be conducted in every parish to make it easier for the faithful to understand the Bible.

“Every day, I read the Bible to feel better and learn new things. But some parts are hard to understand, even after reading them many times.” Said Genevie Fernandes, a Parishioner of St. Anne’s Church Agonda. Genevie, who participated in the course held at Bhatpal church, sharing her experience said: “Taking part in a Bible course helped me understand parts of the Bible that were confusing before. It made me realize that everyone interprets the Bible differently, based on their own lives and experiences.” She spoke about how reading the Bible helps her and what she learned from studying it.

“When I first read the Holy Bible, I had a lot of questions that confused me,” said Janis Crasto, a parishioner of St. Anthony’s Church in Vagator. She joined a course at Saligão Church to learn more about the Bible. She said that attending the Bible Course has created a lot of clarity, allowing her to understand the scriptures with a better, different, and deeper view. Janis believes knowing more about the Bible is important for understanding her faith in Jesus Christ.

“This comprehensive understanding of the Bible has empowered me to delve deeper into its teachings and has equipped me with the confidence to stand unwavering in defence of my beliefs, particularly when challenged by others,” she remarked.

“This course helped me to clear up many doubts and gain a better understanding of God’s word,” shared Janavi Costa from Panchavadi Parish. She mentioned that the in-depth study of salvation enlightened her and increased her knowledge. “Being part of the Bible Course brought many blessings into my life. Studying the Bible strengthened my faith and deepened my relationship with God,” she explained.

Participants expressed their gratitude towards the Diocesan Centre for Biblical Apostolate for conducting these courses.

By Br. Malvino Alfonco OCD


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