In whole state of Arkansas in United States, there are only three predominantly African American Catholic Parishes and I am the pastor of two of the three: Saint Augustine in the city of North Little Rock and Saint Bartholomew in Little Rock. In addition to my responsibility as a pastor of these two Parishes, I am also a teacher of the Bible in a Catholic High School: Mount Saint Mary in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Here at saint Augustine and saint Bartholomew parishes, we celebrated the year of the Word of God. We opened it within Mass on Sunday January 26, 2020 and closed it during the celebration of the Eucharist of Sunday September 27, 2020.
The Opening of the Year of the Bible
I have one Bible Study Group at each of my parishes. I am the one who lead them. At each parish, we opened the year of the Bible within Mass on Sunday January 26, 2020. After the second reading, all members of the Bible study group did a solemn procession, each with a Bible in their hands, and one in front with a big Bible accompanied by two altar boys each side holding the lit candles. In my homily, I mentioned the importance of the Word of God and why we should read the Bible often and often.
I had prepared my parishioners to bring their Bibles at Mass for a special blessing. We placed all the Bibles on the table in front of the altar. At the end of that Mass before the last blessing, I blessed solemnly all the Bibles. It was so successful that those who missed that Sunday Mass requested me to bless their Bibles also solemnly on the following Sunday. We left the Big bible in front of the altar in each Church, with a beautiful decoration, until the closing of the year of the Word of God on Sunday September 27, 2020.
The Closing of the Year of the Bible
On Sunday September 27, 2020, at each of my parishes, we closed the year of the Bible solemnly during Mass. We did again the solemn procession with one member holding a big Bible during the Alleluia acclamation. At the end of the Mass, I encouraged my parishioners to continue to read the Bible at home and so become familiar with the Word of God.
So, my parishioners were happy of the year of the Bible we organized. They requested me to teach them more about Bible. I have planned to teach Bible Classes in January and also in September of each year.
By: Fr. Leon Ngandu, SVD