Archive for category Community

Munting Buhangin and a Recollection

Pictures from two MGCP events are now in the Gallery:

The pictures from Munting Buhangin, Batangas were taken on the occassion of Fr. Bong’s birthday. The community took a day off and we went on a long drive to a semi-private resort. We didn’t swim but we did enjoy the view and the lunch!

The first MGCP BEC Animators’ Recollection was finally held on April 19, Holy Tuesday. We have been planning it for a long time, but it was only this year that we were able to hold it. The theme of the recollection was “In the Service of the Total Christ” and consisted of reflections on John 4, John 15:1-17 and the Mystery of Light from an evangelizer’s perspective.

Munting Buhangin and a Recollection

Pictures from two MGCP events are now in the Gallery:

The pictures from Munting Buhangin, Batangas were taken on the occassion of Fr. Bong’s birthday. The community took a day off and we went on a long drive to a semi-private resort. We didn’t swim but we did enjoy the view and the lunch!

The first MGCP BEC Animators’ Recollection was finally held on April 19, Holy Tuesday. We have been planning it for a long time, but it was only this year that we were able to hold it. The theme of the recollection was “In the Service of the Total Christ” and consisted of reflections on John 4, John 15:1-17 and the Mystery of Light from an evangelizer’s perspective.

A Trip Around Taal Lake

Yesterday, our community went around Taal Lake visiting in turn the Lipa Cathedral, the Carmel of Lipa, the Cathedral of Taal. The Lipa Cathedral (San Sebastian) and the Taal Cathedral were both built by the Augustinians. The present form of both churches date back to the 1800s although the foundation of Taal Cathedral (San Nicolas) dates back to 1575, just ten years after the Augustinians landed on Philippine shores.

San Pedro to Lipa

It was raining when we made our way to Lipa City reaching it after an hour’s ride. By then the sun was already shining and there were a lot of people on the cathedral ground. This is in sharp contrast to the Iglesya ni Cristo Church just some meters away which was empty. After a few minutes at the Cathedral, we went looking for the Carmel of Lipa which was the site of a miracle of roses some years ago. It is said that the Vatican is reviewing its case. Then from Carmel we proceeded to Taal and the massive stone Church that used to be the largest in Southeast Asia.

Around Taal Lake

The Taal Cathedral is one massive edifice. It is one of the churches that the Augustinians left to the diocesan clergy in the 1900s. The Augustinians held on to their parish churches until that time, the last of the friars to accede to secularization. One of the main reasons for this was the 1898 Revolution.

More pictures are available at the Gallery.

See the Gallery

Tags: , ,

Changes At MGCP

New Gallery Pics

PREX at Olympia VI  OLM at Olympia I

BEC Advanced  Fourth Anniversary

Some more pictures at the AgustinongPinoy Gallery!

The new pictures highlight current changes in our parish. The visit of Our Lady of Manaoag in July 2009 gave the residents of Olympia I an occassion to present the newly renovated facade of their chapel. The new construction is actually the expression of a deeper reality of the Resurrection visita: the growth of their communities of faith. From one cell group, their communities of faith now number four.

Our PREX program has been expanding since last year. Batch 83 was held at the St. Joseph visita (Olympia VI) with twenty-two participants finishing the basic course. The lay leaders of the visita had a formation house constructed at the back of the chapel for this purpose. A lot of the participants from this batch were from Maligaya VI which celebrated its four year as a Christian community last July 25, 2009. We hope that these graduates will later on join us in the BEC Advanced Training.

The BEC Advanced Training is one feature of our PREX program that has begun to contribute to the building up of basic cell communities in the parish. The training program helps cell leaders become more familiar with the Scriptures through different modules designed for the purpose. Training is provided by cell leaders themselves who teach the others skills related to leadership and or the understanding of Scriptures that each have developed previously. In this way modules like the following have been incorporated in our training:

Course Module
Intelligent Reading Sentence Flow Analysis
Methodology: Effective Note-taking Building up Catalogues and Dossiers
Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels Studying the Feeding of the Multitudes
Leadership Skills Introduction to Christian Leadership

Visit the Gallery of new pictures below.

Tags: , ,



It is a slow grind towards Easter. Holy Monday will see members of the parish go on their Visita Iglesia in Quezon Province and some of the friars will be accompanying them. By that time, we shall have finished the first BEC Ministry modules for the Parish Renewal Experience. Yup, we have made the move of making PREX the agent for building-up small communities of faith in our parish. It is something that was already embedded in the renewal experience, with its insistence on the Church as the family of God. The inspirational document behind PREX — Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi — is clear in making the connection between evangelization and the creation of a new culture. The experience of Basic Ecclesial Communities in Puebla and in our own less known islands points to them as communities that evangelize and through which a new Christian culture from the grassroots is created. In Latin America, they created a new way of theologizing which bore the name “Liberation Theology” and was quite “hot” in the seventies and eighties. In the Philippines, basic ecclesial cell groups are no longer confused with the cell groups of the New People’s Army, I hope. Now that Liberation Theology has been institutionalized, we can get into the matter of allowing the people from the grassroots to “be Church.”

Some people may fault me for the way I formulated that last sentence. It would seem as if “the people from the grassroots” have been prevented from becoming what they are: “the Church”, the Body of Christ. If there is another way of formulating the reality of lay people rediscovering that “being Church” is their vocation and mission, I’d gladly listen to it and perhaps even write about it here. The fact is that with the Parish Renewal Experience as we knew it before only brought our parishioners to the experience that they belong to the family of God. To sustain that experience and have them live that new knowledge within a concrete embodiment of the Church where brotherly love, ministry and mutual service are manifested, that is, in small groups of faith, hope and charity, then the Basic Ecclesial Community should be the “natural” result of the Parish Renewal Experience.

At least, that is the way I thought it would work. And it does seem to work that way.  The only problem that I see at the moment is that the BEC models we know grew and developed in rural areas.  We live in an urban setting: the parish straddles subdivisions with their own home owners’ associations and an urban-poor area (previously known as squatters’ areas).  How to make our BEC model work here is still a matter of experimentation that is already succeeding in some parts.

In any case, the Church in its two thousand years of existence has never stopped experimenting, exercising her faith in creative ways.  So why should we stop being creative?

Progress of our BEC Ministry training and practise is monitored by the PREX Newsletter of our parish.  Until this writing, two issues have gone out and are available for download in the following links:

The newsletter is written in Filipino and is found in PDF format.


Tags: , ,

Building BEC Communities

Building Communities

“What activities do you have in your parish that are geared towards basic ecclesial communities?”

The question comes from a friend who has just decided to become an active member in his own parish. He has just heard about BECs and was wondering what it meant and how it looked like from the perspective of “apostolic work.”

The thing is Basic Ecclesial Communities can have different forms depending on what model the parish adopts. In our own parish at the Mother of Good Counsel (Laguna), there is still a bit of confusion as to how BECs are to be realized. BECs are families living in the same area of a parish that periodically come together to listen to the Word of God and practise it in their lives in the spirit of fraternity. We still have a long way to go in our parish since people here still think of BECs as a way of helping the poor parishioners in the Homes-Along-The-Riles section of San Pedro, Laguna. Until this erroneous “social” understanding of the BEC is overcome, we won’t be able to turn our parish into the mother church of small ecclesial communities.

Forming BECs shouldn’t be difficult however. We already have the Parish Renewal Program that every two months “supplies” the parish with renewed parishioners who are willing to participate actively in the parish’s projects. These can be further trained to form family groups that will regularly meet, e.g. to study the Gospel of the next Sunday Mass and make concrete resolutions that can benefit their own families and immediate neighborhood.

Bible study with small groups such as I do with the parishioners of a subdivision can also be a step towards the BEC. The whole point is to make people familiar with the idea of families coming together regularly. Bible study can become some sort of training for BEC-building if (a) the bible passage studied is for the Sunday mass, (b) the people involved are willing to invite others and help them experience what they experience with the Word of God, and (c) they are willing to make concrete resolutions that would make the Sunday gospel come alive for their families and neighbors.

Finally, the celebration of masses with small sections of the parish can also be a step towards the BEC. Our Maligaya-sections (the Home-Along-The-Riles parishioners) would feel that they are part of the parish if they too are visited by their pastors. The Mass can be a way of doing that.

BEC-building is not a matter of having a good organizational structures although that would also be needed later on. What is important are people who begin to build their lives around the Word of God listened to in Scriptures and celebrated in the Eucharist.

Tags: ,

Basic Ecclesial Communities: Building-up the Parish from Below

The BEC is the diocese of San Pablo’s main project. It has been 14 years since PCP II institutionalized the BEC making it “the look” of the Filipino Church for the present. I am aware that the program has been ongoing in Iloilo (since 2000) and in Negros (since 2004). It is only now that we are beginning here in Laguna. After some of our parishioners attended the BEC seminar given by the Diocese of San Pablo, I decided to call them in for a “bible” workshop that was asked by the Adelina visita of the parish. I thought it was a good opportunity for introducing the idea of the BEC while at the same time helping the street coordinators of the visita to see their work within the greater mission of the Church.

Ben Tindoy on the BEC

On December 2 and 9, 2006, a BEC Orientation Seminar was held at the Adelina Chapel.  The Seminar was held for the purpose of acquainting the Street Coordinators of the Sto. Nino Chapel (Adelina II-IIa) and other interested parties about the current project of the diocese regarding the building up of ecclesial communities, and the process towards its realization. 

On Day 1 of the Seminar the topics were distributed as follows:

  • Ano Ba Ang BEC? (What is the BEC?) Mr. Ben Tindoy

  • Mga Tingin Sa Iglesya (Models of the Church) Fr. Alberto L. Esmeralda, OSA
  • Ang Pagiging Lingkod BEC (The Work of a BEC Leader) Mr. Ben Tindoy.

On Day 2, topics revolved on the Scriptures

  • Ano Ba Ang “Faith Sharing”? (What is Faith Sharing?)

  • Ang Paghahanda Para Sa Isang Faith Sharing (Preparing a Session for Faith Sharing)
  • Isang Sampol: Ang Ikalawang Linggo ng Adbiyento, Year C (A Sample: Second Sunday of Advent, Year C.)

At the end of the second day, the participants were given the opportunity to actually share on the gospel for the second Sunday of Advent.

The so-called "Basic Ecclesial Community" is a group of families living in the same geographical area who come together regularly to listen to the Word of God, reflect on it, talk about it and live it in their lives.  As these families allow the Word of God to become the central value of their lives, they become mirrors of the pilgrim Church as it follows the promptings of God through the meandering ways of human history.  In the BEC, the families too begin to experience too what it is to be members of the household of the faith.

Ben Tindoy (Resurrection visita) reminded the participants that PCP II identified the BEC as an agent of renewal for the Philippine Church.  While the idea was "institutionalized" in the early 90s, it was also pointed out that the idea was already being enfleshed during the time of Marcos in the southern and northern areas of the Philippines among farmers dwelling in localities that the local government could not reach.  The Marcos machinery labelled them seed beds of insurgency and rebellion inspired by communism.  As a result not only lay people but also priests and nuns got into trouble with the military.

In "Mga Tingin Sa Iglesya", it was pointed out that one of the reasons why the BEC did not catch on was due to the way both lay and priests looked at the Church.  Each person, generation or groups of people whether religious or priestly or lay, have their predominant image of the Church.  It may be that of "institution" or "Mystical Body" or "Messenger of God".  It was pointed out that no model nor image of the Church exhausts the wealth and mystery of the Church.  The BEC has grown out of an ancient model of the Church, that of the household of God which is the original meaning of the phrase "people of God" and which tends to incorporate all other models as it grows and becomes a reality in the midst of men.

The growth of a BEC will depend not only on the grace of God (which is never lacking) but also on the work of generous volunteers who invest time and effort in creating a "space" (whether geographical, cultural or spiritual) where families begin to see the importance of coming together regularly, listening to the Sunday gospel in view of a better participation in the Sunday liturgy, sharing their faith and making concrete resolutions so as to give flesh to the Word just heard in their own households.  In Adelina II-IIA, the role is structurally fitted to the so-called "street coordinator" although these same people will have to outgrow the idea that they are mere messengers of the officers of the Adelina visita (a.k.a.  Sto. Nino Chapel).  If the street coordinators volunteer as BEC coordinators, they become active promoters of the growth not only of  the Adelina II-IIa community but also of the Mother of Good Counsel Parish as a whole.

The skills needed for the purpose will initially begin with Bible and group facilitating skills.  In "Ano Ba Ang Bible (Faith) Sharing" and "Ang Paghahanda Para Pagbabahaginan Ng Pananampalataya" the participants were introduced to the theological principles and practical aspects of a Catholic dynamics in a shared reading of the Scriptures.  "Word of God" is not only the Bible; it is first of all Christ and the memory of the apostles which is handed down in Tradition.  The sharing of the faith occassioned by the reading of the Scriptures becomes an occassion, therefore, for deepening one’s belongingness to the Church that Christ has established on the Rock of apostolic faith.

"The TEXT",says Fr. Esmeralda, "comes alive in its PreTEXT and ConTEXT."  The TEXT is the Scriptures explained, its PreTEXT is the life and concerns of the community of faith, and the ConTEXT is the totality of the faith that is announced and proclaimed by the Church.  There is faith sharing so that the members of the community can have a shared understanding of their lives in the light of God’s Word which is proclaimed by the Church.  Like the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, the community is changed by the reading of Scriptures and the eucharistic meal hosted by the Risen Lord (cf. Luke 24:13-35) from fear to courage, from discouragement to hope.  And like the two disciples, the experience of the Risen Lord becomes full in communion with the apostles and being in the same "place" as they are (cf. Luke 24:36ff where the Lord manifests himself to those with the apostles.).

The BEC, proclaims PCP II, is the way of the Filipino Church.  But it cannot begin unless it starts small (that is why it is called "basic") and takes on life as a cell of the bigger community.  The street coordinators of Adelina II-IIA were confronted to a choice — a choice to become active participants in the growth of the Church and not only as parishioners more or less interested in the contents of the Bible.  The same choice will be presented to other interested groups within the Mother of Good Counsel Parish in the coming days.  Our journey towards a fuller participation in the life of the Church has begun.

Speakers for the seminar were Ben Tindoy and Rev. Fr. Alberto L. Esmeralda, OSA.  The seminar was held at the Adelina II-IIa Chapel.  Handouts in Filipino were given during the two-day seminar.  These are now available at

Tags: , ,