I am reviewing my journey taken until this point in relation to the BEC Ministry. An article I posted last year gives an overview of what I’ve accomplished from 2005 until last year (See My Interest in the BEC). In sum, here are the milestones in that journey
2004. Upon the request of some parishioners, I started giving Bible lessons in Church. It was short-lived though since after the Christmas break, interest began to wane.
2005. I tried to initiate some work with fathers in Olympia I, but the project didn’t work out. Instead, I started working with a group in Maligaya VI. This is also the time I started saying Mass at Maligaya VI. The first cell group should have been the Bible Team Ministry I and three parishioners started after we attended a Scripture Ventures program. But it didn’t progress when too many people who were unprepared were called in to join. This was also the time when I began Biblista.NET with Sunday Thoughts. For four years it would be the place where I post my articles on the Sunday Gospels.
2006. Bible study sessions were opened at Adelina II-IIA. Later A BEC Seminar was given at Olympia I. Out of this seminar, a cell group was formed.
2007. A BEC Seminar was given to Adelina II-IIA. I also began celebrating Masses at Maligaya V around this time. More seminars for the Olympia I cell group was given. While this was going on, the group that used to meet in the parish hall every Sunday at 8PM was reconstituted with new members.
2008. The Bible Workshop was begun for those cell group members who were interested in furthering their study of the Scriptures. A special feature of this new website is “Mag-aral Tayo” started (July 22, 2008). The change of administration at MGCP made it easier for me to continue working on the BEC through the Parish Renewal experience.
2009. February 1, we began the first PREX – BEC Ministry Training. From the initial group of 19, four finished the course. This is also the time when the BEC Project is formally introduced to the Parish Pastoral Council. Closely allied to this development is the transformation of the PREX Secretariat as the Parish’s main formation program. The “Tambuli” — the PREX newsletter — also came out with its first issue. The newsletter is meant to inform parish constituents of what is going on with the parish formation program, basic and advanced. The advanced program is currently made up of the BEC Ministry and the PREX Speakers’ Bureau. In March, the PREX Secretariat laid the foundations for its reorganization and expansion to outreach programs. We’ve begun to roll…
Throughout this journey, the foundational experiences were those that derive from the bible study sessions at the parish hall (2005-2006), at Adelina II-IIA and Olympia I. The experiences only confirmed to me what I already knew in theory, namely, that the reading of Scriptures when it is not coordinated with the Liturgy and the mission of the Church, is informative but not life-changing. The Church’s life and mission of evangelization is the context of any understanding of the Scriptures AS Scriptures. The experience with the Olympia I cell group also helped me see how cell meetings become a place where members experience what it is to “be Church”. I’ve known this from the theologians of liberation, but to see it happening, one must stay close to an actual cell group that quietly transforms itself from a bible study group into a family that has the Word of God as its center.
It took a long time before the idea of Basic Ecclesial Community cell groups take root in the parish. This was mainly due to the fact that everyone thought they already understood it. Many of the parish’s lay leaders are either members or former members of charismatic prayer groups and are already familiar with the use of the bible in prayer groups. For these people, a group plus a bible can only mean either a bible prayer group or a bible study group. Hence for them, a Basic Ecclesial Community cell group is either one or the other. It was not until the Olympia I cell group’s activities became noticeable that people began to change their views.
The idea that the Parish Renewal Experience should be the main carrier of any BEC-Project is a conviction that I’ve held for a long time. The concept of a PREX 201 Module which I have been trying to sell since 2005 didn’t go as far as I wanted it to, but it did get noticed, and was even presented to a different parish. Today, the PREX 201 Module has been superseded by the basic BEC Ministry Modules. Instead of opening another PREX program parallel to the one already being given, the BEC Ministry Module is presented as a continuation of Talk No. 11 “You Are My Witnesses”. This is a development in the basic PREX program itself since there, Evangelization is often presented as the work of the individual believer. This deficiency is overcome by putting the whole idea of evangelization within the Church’s mission as occurring in one’s community of faith and in the particular historical context in which that community lives its faith.
The end of March 2009 will see a milestone in our parish’s journey towards the building-up of BECs. Four new PREX graduates will be presented as cell leaders, the first group that will emerge from the PREX program we have modified. The direction has been set and the necessary follow through is already in motion. April will see another batch of PREX graduates undergo the BEC Ministry training program. But they will be moving into a particular stage in the history of our parish that will be qualitatively different from the preceding ones.
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