In line with its “Bibliya sa Kada Pamilya” program, the Pauline Family in Iloilo City went on a Bible Mission to Sta. Teresa De Avila Parish in Carles, Iloilo last February 9, 2019. The mission group, led by Sr. Reajoy San Luis, fsp and Fr. Jerome Palma, ssp, is composed of Sr. Maricor Mercurio, fsp, IOLA members Dawn Sotelo and Vee Ramirez, and Pauline Cooperators Regine Areno, Sit Sumayo, Haide Soliva, Susan Diamante, and Fleur Mallada. The mission had the full support of Fr. Joel Rudi, parish priest of Carles, who arranged mission logistics in Carles.
Carles is the northernmost town of the province of Iloilo, about 142 km from the capital, Iloilo City, and includes fourteen islands and islets. Some of these islands are too remote that priests are only able to visit one Sunday in a month to celebrate the Holy Mass. These islands are divided into barangays, most with their own chapel and a chapel coordinator. Fr. Rudi had the chapel coordinators select worthy parishioners from their barangays to receive Bibles. The group distributed 132 Hiligaynon Bibles and daily scripture reading guides to parishioners so that they will have access to the Word of God at any given time.
The group left Iloilo City the day before the mission, as it takes three and a half hours by land and another one and a half hours by boat to reach the mission site – the Gigantes Norte Island. Fr. Rudi asked Bible recipients from other island barangays to converge in this island, at the Granada National High School gym.
Mission day, February 9, started early for the group. They were at the venue at 7 am to set up the altar where to enthrone the Bible and prepare the screen and projector. The chapel coordinators and youth volunteers from the Isla Gigantes Choir helped in the physical arrangement of the venue. Registration started at 8 am. The Isla Gigantes Choir also led the participants in energizer activities.
The actual mission started with a Bible Enthronement rite, which included a Bible being brought to the altar in procession and Fr. Jerome reading a gospel passage. Fr. Jerome then blessed all the Bibles. The Bibles, with daily scripture reading guides, were then given to the parishioners.
Fr. Jerome then gave a spirited Bible Animation. He introduced the Bible, the books of the Old and the New Testament, and imparted other biblical knowledge.
Lectio Divina followed. Participants were divided into groups of 10, where they continued to learn how to use the daily scripture reading guide, how to look up passages in the bible, and the prayers before and after the reading of scripture. Emphasis was placed on the repeated slow reading of Bible passages and to meditate on the Word of God. Several participants shared personal reflections on what they just read as well as life stories of faith and healing. They appreciated receiving the Bibles, especially the youth participants who showed eagerness to learn because religion is not taught in local public schools.
The mission culminated with the handing out of a Promise certificate, wherein each recipient pledges 5-10 minutes each day to read and reflect on the Word of God, and a community lunch.
The missionaries are most grateful to the continuous support of generous benefactors and collaborators and most of all to God who made all things possible. To God be the glory.- APC Fleur Mallada