The Church in Australia will celebrate the Sunday of the Word of God on the first Sunday in February each year, starting with February 7 in 2021.
Pope Francis last year instituted the celebration when issuing the apostolic letter Aperuit Illis. The letter encouraged the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God.
The date for marking the Sunday of the Word of God was set as the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.
The Australian bishops, in light of the regular coincidence of the Australia Day holiday or associated long weekend with the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, decided to choose another date to mark the occasion. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference this week confirmed that date as the first Sunday in February.
“The bishops recognised the need to create a Sunday free from potential distraction when setting the date for the Sunday of the Word of God,” said Archbishop Patrick O’Regan, chair of the Bishops Commission for Liturgy.
“The date was chosen to retain close proximity to the international celebration, but to avoid the clash with the Australia Day observance. The choice of date also ensures it falls before the start of Lent.”
The National Centre for Evangelisation and the National Office for Liturgy are preparing a number of resources to help individuals, families, parishes, schools and other ministries commemorate the Sunday of the Word of God.
“The Church’s love for Sacred Scripture is often misunderstood or underestimated, so this occasion offers us the opportunity celebrate the Word of God in new and diverse ways,” Archbishop O’Regan said.
Among ways Catholics and Catholic communities are being encouraged to mark the day are special display of Sacred Scripture or the Book of the Gospels, the establishment of Bible study groups or the adoption of lectio divina, a common practice of reflection on Scripture.
“The Second Vatican Council explained that the proclamation of the Word is one of the primary ways the faithful encounter Christ’s sacramental presence during the liturgy,” Archbishop O’Regan said.
“May the first Sunday in February became a day when that presence is felt and celebrated in a particular way.”