By Sr M Luka Juenemann ISSM
The BJ Hickey Scholarship is back in full swing doing what it does best – equipping students to travel interstate and around the world in their pursuit of the study of Word of God.
This year, scholarship recipients were invited to St Mary’s Cathedral grounds on 17 February, to receive their certificates, listen to past experiences of students who had travelled to study Scripture and network with each other.
Opened with a prayer by Episcopal Vicar for Education and Faith Formation, Fr Vincent Glynn, the first part of the event featured an address by Centre for Faith Enrichment Director, Dr Marco Ceccarelli, and founder of the scholarship, Emeritus Archbishop Barry James Hickey.
Dr Ceccarelli reminded guests that this event was taking place not too long after Word of God Sunday, an annual commemoration introduced by Pope Francis to celebrate the Word of God.
He pointed to the Pope’s homily from this year’s Word of God Sunday celebration at St Peter’s Basilica, where the Pope spoke of Jesus’ travel through Caparneum.
“The Word is for everyone” Pope Francis said. “Jesus ‘reaches out’ to tell us that God’s mercy is for everyone. Let us not forget this: God’s mercy is for everyone, for each one of us.”
The Holy Father went on to say that “the Word of God, which is addressed to all, calls everyone to conversion. God’s nearness is not inconsequential … On the contrary, his Word shakes us, disturbs us, incites us to change, to conversion.”
Finally, Pope Francis emphasised that the Word of God “makes us heralds. Indeed, Jesus … calls Simon and Andrew, two brothers who were fishermen. With his Word he invites them to follow him, telling them that he will make them “fishers of men” (Mt. 4,19): no longer just experts in boats, nets and fish, but experts in seeking others.”
Invited share some of the reasons why he opened the Scholarship, Emeritus Archbishop Hickey acknowledged that he always felt that his own Scripture studies had been insufficient, especially as he undertook them in Rome in Latin, with no English Bible at hand.
Only later in his priestly life, was he able to study the Scriptures in depth and visit the Holy Land. He stressed how proud he was that the scholarship program enables many lay people to study the Scriptures and get to know the Bible as a book, as well as the places in the Holy Land where Jesus and his disciples had lived. Archbishop Hickey is hoping that the scholarship program might bear fruit even beyond his own lifetime.
Called by CFE’s new Senior Project Officer, Sr M Luka Juenemann ISSM, to receive their certificates from Fr Vincent and Archbishop Hickey, the recipients expressed a sense of gratitude which was later summed up by former scholarship recipient, Isaiah Boylen.
Mr Boylen used the scholarship as a 17-year-old to study Biblical courses at the Augustine Academy located in rural NSW as part of a Certificate IV in tertiary preparation in the Liberal Arts.
He related enthusiastically how his studies had been not only academically enriching, but a life-changing experience. Presented with the opportunity to study the Scriptures with other young people at this remote location, Boylen was able to find the links between the different paragraphs, passages and books of the Bible which deepened his understanding of Scripture and of his Catholic faith in general.
Fr Vincent concluded the reception by admitting how jealous he had become as he heard of all the places where people were travelling, including towns in the Holy Land.
He mentioned how significant it would be to physically visit the places Jesus lived in, particularly since the Holy Land is at times referred to as a “fifth gospel” which the Church encouraged those Catholics who can, to experience at least once in their lifetime.
“May the Sunday of the Word of God help his people to grow in religious and intimate familiarity with the sacred Scriptures. For as the sacred author taught of old: ‘This word is very near to you: it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance’” (Dt 30:14) were the words used by Pope Francis as he closed his Apostolic Letter Aperuit Illis when instituting Word of God Sunday.
As the scholarship recipients set out to grow in this familiarity with the Scriptures, the Archdiocese of Perth eagerly awaits their return so it too can be enriched with their knowledge.
Those receiving the 2023 BJ Hickey Scholarships and their destinations include:
Anne Kennedy – Three-week Easter Program at Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem. Lectures and excursions for this program are centred around the paschal mystery, the holy week and easter liturgies.
Ed Pytlowany – July Program at Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem – a Bible study course infused with the spiritual and theological significance of the Holy Land.
Naiara Galea – Course on Salvation History and Acts of the Apostles for a Diploma of Catholic Youth Ministry at Acts 2 College of Mission and Evangelisation.
Stella John – Hakimah Program at Tantur Ecumenical Institute. Hakimah explores the role of women in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim texts and traditions. Participants will discover how women in the Holy Land continue to contribute to the cultural, political, and spiritual realities they live in.
Karen Pertile 16-day Study Tour of the Biblical Lands in Israel with Dr Rosemary Canavan. The tour is focused on the Gospel of Luke, and includes travel to Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Magdala, the Jordan River, the Mount of Olives, the Western Wall, Bethany, Qumran, and Bethlehem.
Lydia Guerrini – 15-day study of The Gospel of Mark at The Notre Dame De Sion Centre for Biblical Formation in Jerusalem. Using historical, literary and hermeneutical approaches, the course explores who the Markan Jesus Christ is and what it means to identify with him.
Natalie Thomas online course on the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament with the Israel Bible Centre.
Vinita Weaven online Bible Studies course at Notre Dame University as part of a Certificate of Theology Program.
Jennie Jago (on behalf of Sharee Hart, Karen Pertile, Caitlin Reynolds, Thomas Atkins, David Colace, Esther Vallance, Jacqueline Riches) Funding toward supporting Notre Dame students undertaking a Scripture and Church course at Notre Dame University – the course is aimed at offering aspiring teachers an opportunity to travel to Israel.