September 1, 2018, Lourdes Shrine, Punta Princesa, Cebu City.
The Commission on Youth Ministry through its sector on parishes organized a whole day Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) Conference in order to strengthen the BECs in our seven strong parishes. The parish priests realized that there is at the moment, different interpretations of what BEC is all about and that sows a little confusion even among the many parishioners. One important objective of the conference is to address the question on how to involve young people in the BEC; it seems that the BEC is an adult world where young people either do not know how to insert themselves or maybe they are not welcomed or simply they just don’t know that this is being Church now in the context of many dioceses.
The speakers chosen to given an in-depth look at the expectations are Msgr. Manuel Gabriel, the BEC Chairperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), he has been a priest for 48 years and most of his assignments are in the parish and particularly on the BECs. Another speaker, particularly in the afternoon session is Fr. Noel Rendon, the BEC Chairperson of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
The whole day BEC conference was well attended with at least 150 participants mostly from the parishes of Cebu and a few representatives from Negros district particularly that of Mambukal and Victorias.
These are the random thoughts that came out of the BEC Conference as summarized by CYM FIS delegate before each parishes made a sort of resolution:
BEC CONFERENCE WRAP UP 1 (from the talk of Msgr. Manuel Gabriel)
- The most important element in the life of the BEC is the centrality of Jesus especially through his sustaining Word (his food for the soul) and the Living Eucharist (food for the journey).
- We have to outgrow ourselves from simply faith expressions and customs to faith experiences.
- There are more people outside the Church (represented by empty pews and those keeping some grudges or anger in one way or another), they are our mission; we have to go to them. BEC (magkakapit-bahay) has to do something about this; This is what is means by the “New Evangelization”– we go to those outside the Church.
- The BEC must have a MISSION for it to progress and this mission is aligned in the mission of Christ.
- BEC is revitalized and attractive to people because of the sense of belonging and the sense of witnessing.
- BEC is contextualized. “Kung ano’ng tugtog siya ring sayaw.” “Kung ano ang kanilang pangagailangan yun ang kanilang kailangang tugunan.”
- BEC is a form of accompaniment to those people with questions, who are lost, despairing, those with so much hurt… we need to also respond to them.
- Msgr. Manny used the Image of broomsticks — as long as we are bounded by Christ everyone has a part, let God gives you what you deserve.
- He said, “Whether your parish is new or old, it is important is to have basic activity or common action:
- Immersion (1st two years): know your community/ your flock (the principle of the incarnation of Christ). Go to their places and know their needs. vs “sanaytayo ang pinupuntahan.” Do not make programs immediately unless we listen to the people.
- Everything you plan/build, involve them (the people); “Sama-sama sa pagkilos.”
- Always learn from your mistakes. Mistakes will always be part of the process and do not blame one another.
- His opinion regarding the involvement of the Youth in the BEC, and a general advise to the youth, two things (by the way, he loves to say TWO THINGS):
- He is challenging us adults to focus on the youth’s strengths and use them “kung saan sila magaling doon natin sila bigyan ng pansin“ but they too need accompaniment and we need 120% patience in dealing with them.
- To the youth,
- understand yourself before you understand others.
- Accept yourself as a child of God. (pasalamat ka sasarilimo)
- Take care of your dreams; your dreams are your future.
- Do not ride on with the fad of the world.
- Two type of ecclesial communities: SEC and BEC, but the SECs and LOMAS must have the awareness to share their charism to the BEC. BEC is not just an umbrella but the HOME of all organizations.
- Conflicts or misunderstanding arises because of different theological orientations and different operational structural differences. The questions of 48 years ago are the same questions until now.
- Then we learned that there are two priests: BEC Lovers and BEC killers.
- Centrality of the role of the Parish Priest in the BEC
- Parish priest has to set the direction (pressure on top and pressure from below); This has to be clear also to the people. Remember the Bibingka a kind of rice cake): May apoy sa taas at may apoy sa baba.
- He ended it with the exhortation: The sign that there is growth in BEC is when young people have a home and when young people grow in their vocation.
WRAP UP 2 (from the talk of Fr. Noel Rendon):
- Fr. Noli Rendon confirmed that in the Diocese of Cebu, there are different ways of understanding the BEC.
- He started to remind us the true nature of the Church… its origin s God since the very beginning: In the eternal plan of the Father, inaugurated by Christ, and sustained by the Holy Spirit.
- The Church, as the people of God is composed of persons, family, and community and the challenge by the Vat II is to bring the gospel values to these different aspects of the people of God: political, economic, social, cultural, religious, ecological of life.
- He also shared to us the reality of 75% of unchurched members of the Church that we need to reach out which is impossible only to be reached by the priests but through the help of the BEC.
- “If people don’t approach the Church, it’s the Church who must approach the people.” Fr Dan Franklin Pilario.
“Every one has a place in the Church and thus we have to place each one to his rightful place.” Dakay.
5. He reminded us of the four marks of the true Church – one, holy, catholic and apostolic:
In the life of the BEC we have to consider to bring down to level of the people the three-fold mission of Christ – priestly, prophetic, and kingly characters. Emphasizing on services and formation esp. of catechists. In the words of Bishop Lagdameo: “In the renewal f the country we need the play of balance through social apostolate, worship, catechesis.”
6. The Church needs to be guided by the Holy Spirit in order for us to DISCERN whether we are attuned to the mission or plan of God for the communities. BEC is a discerning community.
7. The Church has ONE cult, code, creed and therefore it has to brought down also to the families; emphasizing on the role of children and youth as part of the family.
From the reactors and open forum:
- The Church is inclusive of everyone, saints and sinners alike.
- The parishto be successful can be measured through:
- Collaboration with lay and parish priest
- The structure being used
- Active participation of the lay (clarity of direction in the parish)
- While there is a need for the Diocesan Commission to talk to one another and to do a synergy among its efforts we need to also dialogue among ourselves in the BEC level from family, youth, etc.
- Membership in the BEC is through families/households. Regarding the BEC structure, first thing is to be clarified with the Vision and Mission. Then as suggested earlier, know the needs of the families/communities, because each BEC is contextualized… needs are different and thus responses. On the issue of legislation, it is one of the last things, again it should be in consideration in the stability of the families in the BEC.
- On the question of a template: On the side of CBCP National, La Salle is helping through its research studies the BEC commission regarding having a template for formation, worship, etc.
- On the level of the diocese and parish, do a pastoral planning how to address the needs of the community.