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Bishop Ambo David is New FABC Vice President

by Joel V. Ocampo

photos from Archbishop Isao Kikuchi

February 22, 2024. His Excellency Most Rev. Pablo Virgilio S. David, Bishop of Kalookan and current President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippine (CBCP) was elected as the next Vice President of Federation of Bishops Conferences of Asia (FABC). Cardinal Filipe Neri António Sebastião do Rosário Ferrão of Goa, India was elected President while Archbishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi, S.V.D. of Tokyo was re-elected as Secretary General. Their term will begin in 2025.

Love for the Word of God

As an ordained minister, Bishop Ambo, as he was fondly called, had a great love for the Scriptures, the Word of God. From 1986 to 1991, he studied Textual Critical Exegesis, Licentiate and Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, and at the École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem (French School of Biblical and Archeological Research).

When he was still the parish priest of Holy Rosary Parish in Angeles City, Pampanga, Bishop Ambo held monthly Bible Study sessions called “Biblia at Kape” (Bible and Coffee) where the participants can listen to Bible Studies while eating pan-de-sal and coffee. With this regular formation session, the parishioners were able to eat the literal bread and the spiritual bread that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord (cf. Deut. 8:3).

In addition to this, he also presented the “BFAST” (Bible for Faith and Action Sharing Team), a modified version of the Lectio Divina. With this BFAST, he encouraged the faithful, especially members of mandated organizations to form small groups, share the word of God with a cup of coffee and pan-de-sal. This BFAST is now incorporated in the MTBO+ Bible produced by the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate (ECBA) which he led as Chairman in the past.

In January 2011, Bishop David introduced the Mensahe Ni Apu (Message of the Lord). He printed the words of Jesus Christ, written in the Four Gospel on colorful sheets of paper, placed them in a jar and told the parishioners to pick one. He said, “Today is National Bible Sunday. On this day, the Lord Jesus wants to give his message to all present in this place. So, pray to Him, pick a sheet of paper, and that will be His message to you.” After some months, during the Season of Lent, Bishop David formally launched the Mensahe ni Apu in the Archdiocesan Shrine of Christ our Lord of the Holy Sepulcher, commonly known as Apung Mamacalulu Shrine. In this shrine, devotees line up towards the miraculous image of Apung Mamacalulu (Sto. Entierro). Before reaching the image, devotees write their Mensahe kay Apu (Message/Prayer to the Lord). Then, they will pray to Apung Mamacalulu, the Lord who bestows mercy. Afterwards, the faithful will pick the Mensahe ni Apu in a box, placed near the image. The Mensahe ni Apu served as the answer of Apung Mamacalulu to the faithful. With this, many Kapampangan faithful found the Word of God comforting in times of sorrow, guide in times of decision making, strength in times of challenges, and hope in times of hopelessness.

As a Bishop, he was also one of the five bishops sent by the CBCP to participate in the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in Vatican City.

The Ambo

Incidentally, when he was installed as the new bishop of the Diocese of Kalookan, Bishop David said in his homily, “Ambo ang itawag n’yo sa akin.” (You call me ambo.) I am just a stand from which the Word of God is proclaimed.” (Ambo in the Christian liturgy, is a raised stand used for reading and proclaiming the Word of God.) True enough, he allowed the Word of God to be proclaimed through him.

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