Interview with Father Xene Sanchez SVD, the current Director of Verbum Bible, Kinshasa (RD Kongo).
Father Xene Sanchez SVD, the current Director of Verbum Bible, shared with Arnoldus Nota his thoughts on the significant contributions of Verbum Bible (VB) to the local Church. He confidently expressed his views on the direction of Verbum Bible in the following years.
What are the significant contributions of VERBUM BIBLE to the local Church in Pastoral Ministry?
What immediately comes to my mind is the extraordinary impact VB has helped the local Churches by making available the Sacred Scriptures in the people’s language. In many parts of Africa, in the beginnings of Evangelization, God spoke in Latin: a mystical language for almost all. Then God communicated in the language of the colonizers: in French, English, Portuguese, a bit of German, and Spanish. As of now, tak- ing the example of the Democratic Republic of Congo, God speaks in the four national languages. In Mali, God speaks in Bambara. In Central Africa, God speaks in Sango.
The Bible in local languages is used in the Liturgy, the sacramental celebration, Catechesis, and the Pastorals. The first generation of Missionaries had to translate the readings. Now they have the Word of God prepared in the people’s language. After the Synod on the Word of God, Pope Benedict wrote the Apostolic Exhortation VERBUM DOMINI underlining the centrality of the Word of God in the life of the Church. It is, therefore, the Bible that inspires all pastoral work.
Verbum Bible was created because there was a strong need not only to read or listen to the Word of God but also to understand its meaning more profoundly. Accordingly, VB has furnished Catholic editions with notes, introductions, commentaries, and other Biblical aides to better comprehend the Sacred Scriptures.
No wonder why even non-Catholics prefer to buy our Bibles, particularly the Pastors who look for inspiration for their preaching. VB has also published rich and varied Biblical materials for Bible Study, Bible Sharing, Biblical Spirituality, and Pastorals. And lately, we have published songbooks from three dioceses con- taining hundreds of songs composed by local authors, often with biblical inspiration.
What is the direction of VB after this anniversary?
The Apostolate of the Press is still to last longer in Africa. There are still millions of people who have no electricity and no telephones. Therefore, VB will enhance the edition and publication of Bibles in local languages. To complement the Bible, we encourage local authors to write biblical materials. Progressively we develop videos and clips on the Internet. Some of our Bibles are already available numerically.
The original dream of Fr. General Henry Heekeren SVD was to inspire all the SVD Provinces to gather forces for a united program for the Bible Apostolate. But Africa is divided into three major international languages: English, French, and Portuguese? This is one of the significant challenges of the Verbum Bible to be of help to the SVD Zone Africa and Madagascar.
Source: Arnoldus Nota