Bronx Parish Bible Study Reflects ‘Word of God’ Sunday

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By ARMANDO MACHADO

Last Sunday was the first “Sunday of the Word of God,” as Pope Francis declared last September. Each year, the third Sunday in ordinary time will henceforth be recognized as such, for the “celebration, study and dissemination” of the Word of God.

As the Pope explained in his apostolic letter “Aperuit Illis”, a day “dedicated to the Bible should not be seen as an annual event but rather as a one-year event, because we urgently need to grow. in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the Risen Lord.

At St. Benedict Parish in the Bronx, Father Stephen Norton, the pastor, is proud and grateful for the dedicated work of the two ward Bible study coordinators, which he says is in line with the pope’s statement. .

The two coordinators are Isabelle Welch and Carmen Mejia. They have been running the weekly classes for eight years. Both were trained through Archdiocesan programs.

“It’s important because it opens the scriptures to the people,” Father Norton said of the Bible studies program in a Jan. 23 telephone interview with the Catholic state of New York. “It helps them understand the love of the Word of God and to appreciate the Word of God, so that when they come to Sunday Mass, they are better able to appreciate the parables and stories of the Lord. ‘Old Testament and New Testament. Testament by weekly study.

Father Norton explained, “I use the Gospel of this Sunday – to fish for men – to remember the declaration of the Holy Father. If it doesn’t apply to priests, then it doesn’t apply to anyone. If we don’t sit down with the Word of God so that we can preach, then how do people fall in love with the Word of God? This call of the Holy Father must be heard by the priests of each parish at each Sunday Mass.

As for the two Bible study teachers, Ms. Welch and Ms. Mejia, Father Norton said, “We have two wonderful lay people who are doing an amazing job. I try to go there as often as possible. But I am confident with these two good and strong lay people who have studied and who have prepared themselves and have a very good program. They both had a desire to study the Bible, for the Word of God — and they left with it. They were really on fire with that… Isabelle also works with our RCIA program.

The pastor said meetings are held every Tuesday from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., often preceded by coffee and a donut. Each year, the course takes place from the beginning of October until the end of May. “The lessons build on each other; we have 15 to 20 people every year, and some are rehearsals, ”said Father Norton, who has been pastor of St. Benedict for 10 years. Meetings sometimes include talks with the pastor and visiting priests.

Father Norton said the program material is presented as directed by the Archdiocese and its prior approval, usually annually with an emphasis on a particular book of the Holy Bible.

Ms. Welch told CNY that she and Ms. Mejia strongly believe in the importance of program participants getting to know and understand the Bible. She said it is important for participants to feel comfortable in the lessons and to feel welcome, “so that they can share their thoughts and feelings and ask questions.”

About the Pope establishing “God’s Word Sunday,” she said, “I think that’s a beautiful message. We must intensify our journey to the Lord.

Recalling her initial decision to become a ward Bible studies teacher, Welch said, “I have felt a very strong call to know Jesus better, and the best way to do that is to study the Word.

The declaration of Pope Francis to have a “Sunday of the Word of God” was made “motu proprio”, on the Pope’s own initiative. Its title, “Aperuit Illis”, is based on a verse from the Gospel of Saint Luke: “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures”.


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