Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate (ECBA)

THE Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate (ECBA) was organized by the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in July of 1978. Before that the CBCP had a Bible translations committee functioning under the Commission of Ecumenical Affairs. This Committee had become necessary since the CBCP wanted translations of the Bible in the various indigenous languages for the celebration of the Liturgy in the vernaculars.

ECBA is a pastoral commission of the CBCP. Its area of competence and service is the biblical-pastoral ministry in its five-fold concerns, namely: Animating Biblical-Pastoral Formation; Organizing Bible Celebration; Promoting Bible Translations; Assisting Bible Production; Coordinating Bible Distribution.

Purpose

ECBA supports and fosters the work of the Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF) for biblical-pastoral ministry, which throughout the world, collaborate with the bishops to make the Word of God available to all (DV c. VI, No.22), as expressed in:

All of these activities are geared toward the pastoral thrust of the Church in the   Philippines as decreed by the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II)—the formation of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs).

Administration

ECBA is supervised and governed by a Board of Trustees consisting of Bishop Commission members, the Executive Secretary, and the Regional Directors.  It communicates with the Catholic Bible Federation and the Office of Evangelization of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC) and maintains relations with the Philippine Bible Society (PBS), the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and other interconfessional entities involved in the Biblical Apostolate.

ECBA is also a full member of the Catholic Biblical Federation, which is “a Catholic world fellowship of administratively distinct international local organizations committed to biblical-pastoral ministry”.  The Federation is a public association of Christ’s faithful.  It relates to the Holy See through the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Its office is situated in Stuttgart, Germany.

Bible Centers

When the Episcopal Commission was formally formed in 1978 there was only one Catholic Bible Center in the country, the one in Manila. Today the ECBA is organized into ten regions, each with its duly organized Regional Biblical Center and a Regional Director. The said biblical centers are responsible for the implementation of on-going biblical formation programs for their region. These include:

  1. John Paul I Biblical Center for Northern Luzon and Cordillera Region.  Located at the Immaculate Conception school of Theology in Vigan City, the center covers the following ecclesiastical jurisdictions: Alaminos, Batanes, Bayombong, Ilagan, Laoag, Lingayen-Dagupan, Nueva Segovia, San Fernando LU, Tuguegarao, Urdaneta,  Baguio, Bangued, Bontoc-Lagawe, and Tabuk.   Fr. Dominador Ramos, SVD  is the director.
  2. Pius X Biblical Center for Central Luzon.   Located in Orani, Bataan, the center covers the following ecclesiastical jurisdictions:   Balanga, Cabanatua, Iba, San Fernando (Pmga), San Jose (NE), Tarlac.    Msgr. Victor Ocampo is the director.
  3. St. Peter Biblical Center for the National Capital Region. Located at , Commonwealth Ave., Old Balara, QC, the center covers the following ecclesiastical jurisdictions: Cubao, Kalookan, Manila, Novaliches, Paranaque, Pasi.  Fr. Gerardo Tapiador is the director.
  4. Mary, Star of Evangelization Biblical Center for Manila Suffragans. Located at San Antonio de Padua Parish, Calumpang, Marikina, the center covers the following ecclesiastical jurisdictions: Antipolo, Imus, Malolos, Puerto Princesa, San Pablo (Laguna), Taytay (Palawan).  Fr. Alfredo Ganzon is the director.
  5. Sentro Pastoral ng Diocesis Biblical Center for Southern Luzon.  Located at San Roque Parish, Tayabas, Quezon, the center covers the following areas: Boac, Calapan Or. Mdro, Infanta, Gumaca, Lipa, Lucena, San Jose (Occ Mdro).  Fr. Ferdinand Maano is the director.
  6. Nuestra Senora de la Penafrancia for the Bicol Region.  Located at the Mater Salutis College Seminary, Sipi, Daraga, Albay, the center covers the following ecclesiastical jurisdictions: Caceres, Daet, Legazpi, Libmanan, Masbate, Sorsogon, Virac.   Msgr. Noe de los Santos is the director.
  7. Living Word Biblical Center for Eastern Visayas.  Located in Borongan, Eastern Samar, the center covers the following ecclesiastical jurisdictions:  Borongan, Calbayog, Catarman, Naval, and Palo.   Msgr. Lope Robredillo is the director.
  8. Dei Verbum Biblical Center for Western Visayas.  Located at La Salette Bldg, Valeria St., Iloilo City, the center covers the following ecclesiastical jurisdictions: Bacolod, Capiz, Jaro, Kabankalan, Kalibo, Romblon, San Carlos, San Jose de Antique.   Fr. Tomas Terania, Jr., is the director.
  9. St. Jerome Biblical Center for Central Visayas.  Located at Seminario Mayor de San Carlos, Mabolo City, the center covers the following ecclesiastical jurisdictions: Cebu, Dumaguete, Maasin, Tagbilaran, Talibon.   Fr. Adonis Aquino is the director.
  10. Pope Paul VI Biblical Center for Mindanao.  Located at the Archbishop’s Residence, Banadero, Ozamis City, the center covers the following ecclesiastical jurisdictions: Davao, Digos, Tagum, Mati (DADITAMA), Kidapawan, Marbel, Cotabato (KIDMACO), Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Surigao, Tandag, Malaybalay (CABUSTAM), Dipolog, Ozamis, Pagadian, Iligan, Marawi (DOPIM), Zamboanga, Isabela (Basilan) Jolo (Sulu), Ipil.   Fr. Illuminado Rojo is the director.

In cooperation with the Philippine Bible Society, eight “Common Bible” translations have finally emerged.

  1. The Tagalog Magandang Balita Biblia translated by Fr. Emilio Palma of San Pablo Diocese;
  2. The Cebuano Maayong Balita Biblia by Fr. Cesar Alcoseba and Fr. Diosdado Camomot, launched in September of 1981;
  3. The Hiligaynon or Ilonggo Maayong Balita nga Biblia launched by Archbishop Alberto Piamonte in Jaro in 1982;
  4. The Ilokano Naimbag a Damag Biblia translated by Fr. Godofredo Albano and a layman, Mr. Julian, launched by then Archbishop Jose T. Sanchez in 1983.
  5. The Pangasinense Maung a Balita Biblia launched in Dagupan by Archbishop Federico Lim in 1983;
  6. The Samarenyo Popular Version Bible launched by Bishop Lucero in Calbayog in 1984;
  7. The Bicol Popular Version Bible launched by Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi in Naga in 1993;
  8. The Pampango Popular Version launched by Archbishop Paciano Aniceto in San Fernando, Pampanga in 1994.

Activities

From 1971 to 1986, National Bible Week has been celebrated each year, in cooperation with the Philippine Bible Society, to enhance awareness of the Bible. Today this celebration is held every last week of January

For the past 28 years, the Biblical Apostolate developed steadily in the spirit of Dei Verbum. The biblical-pastoral activities of the local Church were strengthened through the different biblical formation programs that have been developed in the different regional biblical centers. Several biblical-pastoral modules have been developed for the on-going formation of lay bible animators and facilitators that are distributed throughout the year.

The most popular biblical module is the “Basic Bible Seminar” (BBS) which was developed by John Paul I Biblical Center. This booklet is translated into Ilokano, Tagalog, Cebuano and in twenty languages in Asia, Oceania, Europe, Africa and Latin America. Many other modules have been developed either as an introduction or a follow-up of BBS.

Some of the modules from the regional centers are: Bible Orientation Seminars, Core Team Formations, Trainers’ Training Seminars, Biblical Institutes, Bible Youth Camps, Children’s Bible Camp, Basic Bible Seminar 2-3, Calapan Biblical Modules, Cebu Values & Leadership Seminars for Policemen with BBS, Bibliodrama Workshops, Recollections, Retreats and many more.

Some dioceses have their regular Bible on the Air radio programs. All these attempts of growing in the Word function more efficiently when good coordination exists among the existing and functioning Episcopal Commissions in the regional and/or diocesan levels.

Social Concerns

The launching of the Year of Social Concerns last May highlighted even more the role of the Biblical Apostolate in the daily life of the faithful.  A social doctrine with a socio-pastoral action is better acknowledged and lived when done in the light of the Word of God.

Mr. Aries Aguilar, the promotion officer of PBS Marketing Department believes that “the Bible is the life of any community that aspires to grow together in faith. …it is the Word of God that guides, teaches, comforts, and strengthens people in all circumstances”

It is the Word of God that inspires the members of the community to reflection and action to combat poverty, injustice, violence etc. The main spiritual power in the transformation of a nation is none other than the Word of God that is shared and lived in the basic ecclesial communities.