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.


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