National conference marks potential ‘sea change’ in the reading of the Bible

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Year of Faith – Scripture Conference

A national Bible conference held at the historic venue of Ushaw College, near Durham, has been affirmed as beginning a potential ‘sea change’ in Catholic Bible ministry and outreach in England and Wales.

Bishop Peter Brignall, Wrexham, a member of the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, attended the Word of the Lord conference, 24 – 26 April, along with more than 70 delegates from across England and Wales. He said:

“This gathering is the first of its kind in a generation and as such marks a very significant moment, a potential sea change, in the profile and importance of the Bible in Catholic life in England and Wales. The Word of God lies at the heart of Catholic life and initiatives such as this conference are pivotal to encouraging others to read, study and pray with the Scriptures. The conference is one of a series of bible-focused initiatives that have been generated by a new working group established by the Bishops’ Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis in partnership with Bible Society. It’s hoped that more and more people will receive the invitation to listen to and proclaim, through many different means, God’s Word, which is the Word of Life.”

Among the keynote speakers at the conference was former Master of the Dominican Order worldwide, Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, who highlighted the importance of listening, that entering into the conversation with God meanslistening to others, particularly to women and to the poor.

Meanwhile, Dom Henry Wansbrough of Ampleforth Abbey, one of the leading Catholic Scripturescholars in England and Wales, gave an overview of how the biblical apostolate was embraced by Catholics before and after Vatican II. Michelle Moran, President of Catholic Charismatic Renewal, invited those gathered to embrace the call of the Word to engage in the mission of the Church.

Group Chief Executive of Bible Society, James Catford, was also welcomed at the event and presented with an icon of Saint Mark in appreciation of the assistance provided by the Society to organise the conference. He said:

“This conference represents an exciting next step in our journey together with the Scriptures. The themes of the conference have challenged us to consider afresh how we pass on God’s word in the written scriptures, through the Arts and through the witness of our lives. It has been a timely invitation to ‘be the word’ for others.”

The Conference was initiated by the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, in partnership with the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University, and Bible Society. One of the highlights of the conference was the launch of a new study guide, entitled The Word of the Lord, produced by the Department and published by the Catholic Truth Society. The guide is designed to assist reading of Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini which was issued in response to the Synod of Bishops on the Bible held in Rome in 2008. Delegates also visited Durham Cathedral and prayed at the tomb of the Venerable Bede, doctor of the Church, and patron of Scripture scholarship in these lands.

Fr Adrian Graffy, member of the Bishops’ Scripture Working Group, said:

“The whole event was so energising. The delegates were so positive and the speakers excellent. In the Year of Faith it was an opportunity to deepen our appreciation of Scripture at the heart of the Church in this country and to make plans for the years ahead.”

Ingelise McNulty, who attended as a member of the Hexham and Newcastle Diocesan Evangelisation Team said:

“I am lost for words. I really enjoyed the conference and it was so good to be there.”

Bishop Seamus Cunningham (Hexham and Newcastle) and Bishop Edwin Regan (Emeritus Wrexham) were in attendance and a video message was played to delegates from Bishop Kieran Conry (Arundel and Brighton).

Related Links
Our web section covering the conference.
Photos from the conference can be found on our flickr photostream – including images from the Study Guide launch.
The Bible Society’s official website
The Centre for Catholic Studies
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