My interest in Basic Ecclesial Communities started when I did research on Latin America’s Liberation Theology. I found BECs interesting because it made me realize that theology is not something one learns in school, but rather it is reflection on one’s way of living the Gospel. But since gospel-life in Latin America took on a particular shape vis-a-vis the problem of poverty, then even reflection on it took a modality that was vastly different from what was done in a more “comfortable” Christian environment. It is for this reason that liberation theologians attribute “Liberation Theology” to the Basic Ecclesial Communities. After all, they not only lived the reality of “liberation”, they also reflected on it and proclaimed the Gospel through that experience.
It took awhile before the idea of Basic Ecclesial Communities took root in the places where I was assigned in the Philippines. Not that it was a totally new concept. In fact, it was already known in the Philippines during the sixties. There were BECs in Mindanao and in the North of Luzon, but these were put under suspicion of being communistic, not only by the military but also by the bishops of the Catholic Church.
With Liberation Theology becoming “institutionalized” and the idea of “option for the poor” becoming more familiar, it became easier for the BEC-idea to be accepted. Thus, the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, institutionalized the idea. So in the second half of the eighties, the BEC-idea was wed with that of “renewal”. But the implementation of the Second Plenary Council was slow, particularly in the places where I have been assigned. In fact, it was only in the year 2000 that the Diocese of Jaro began making moves to implement the idea. In Bacolod where I was assigned from 2000 to 2004, the BEC idea began to be implemented in accordance with the intent of PCP II about the year 2004. In other words, I’ve never been in any assignment where the BEC was already a diocesan project, except now. Perhaps it was fortunate that I got assigned to Laguna about the time when Bishop Leo Drona was transferred to it. Before taking over the Diocese of San Pablo, Bishop Drona worked in Nueva Ecija where the BEC idea is a living reality. So when he began his work in our diocese, it was expected that this PCP II program will be implemented.
As far as our parish is concerned, the beginnings of the BEC idea can be traced to the year 2005 when moves were made to create Bible study groups that can later on become real cell groups. During that same year, a BEC-related LSS (Life in the Spirit Seminar) program was carried out for our parishioners living along the railway. Meanwhile, I started developing the PREX 201 module so as to enable the Parish Renewal Experience to become a means for training future BEC leaders. But the PREX 201 module cannot be carried out without the necessary experience, so I started working with groups from two areas of the parish: Adelina II-IIA and Olympia I. This notwithstanding the PREX National Convention in 2006 which was more interested in the topics that are apologetic in nature. In any case, the “BEC experiments” continued with relative success. Our group in Olympia I has undergone “enabling” seminars that are geared towards the BEC. We finished some sessions on “Reading the Scriptures Intelligently” and some other topics intended to help the participants study the Scriptures more closely.
The idea is catching on and quickly. It will still take some more time before the PREX Advanced Module can be operational but it will. And even if I don’t see the whole of our parish becoming a mother church of many small communities of faith, just to be a part of it is already something. After all, the BEC grew out of a rural context. To make it grow in an urban setting is a challenge that I think any pastor should welcome. Who knows, perhaps, like the BECs of Latin America, our BECs in the Diocese of San Pablo can become the ground for a fresh look at the faith.
Originally posted 2008-04-17 19:46:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
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