Delegates from the Archdiocese of Caceres, and the dioceses of Libmanan, Legazpi, Virac and Sorsogon represented the Bikol sub-region in the 4th BEC National Assembly in Davao City.
The Episcopal Committee on Basic Ecclesial Communities of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-BEC) convened the 4th National Assembly on November 11 to 14, 2019 at Davao City. Hosted by the Archdiocese of Davao, in cooperation with the suffragan Dioceses of Digos, Tagum and Mati, the convention welcomed close to 800 attendees composed of bishops, priests, religious and lay leaders from all over the country. From Bikol, the Archdiocese of Caceres, and the dioceses of Libmanan, Legazpi, Virac and Sorsogon were represented.
Talks, homilies and testimonies focused on the theme “Discerning the Challenges of the BEC Journey in the Light of the New Evangelization.”
CBCP President and Davao Archbishop Most Rev. Romulo G. Valles, D.D., in his homily during the opening Mass on November 11 at the San Pedro Cathedral, recalled how his ordination was prepared by 38 BECs of the parish of San Isidro in Davao Oriental. He started his priestly life and ministry in a “BECized” diocese, he said. He also noted that the national gathering coincided with the 50th year anniversary of BECs in the DaDiTaMa (Davao, Digos, Tagum, Mati) dioceses.
For Digos Bishop Most Rev. Guillermo V. Afable, D.D. who delivered the keynote speech, pastoral conversion is vital. He emphasized the need for a paradigm shift from sacramentalization to New Evangelization in order for the Word of God to be lived and not only preached. He also challenged the attendees to move from structures of communion to spirituality of communion and to gain greater understanding of popular devotions so they may lead to imitation and mission. He reminded the delegates that as “Pueblo Amante de Maria” – a people in love with Mary – Filipino Catholics have the perfect model and companion in their spiritual journey.
Malaybalay Bishop and CBCP-BEC Chair Most Rev. Jose A. Cabantan, D.D, in presenting “Theological Reflections of BECs in the Philippines,” traced the early beginnings of BECs in Mindanao in the 1960s. He said the structure of BECs is only secondary to the truth that BECs are living proof of the presence of God. He urged the participants to move beyond worship. BECs must also answer the basic needs of the poor, he added.
Meanwhile, the survey conducted by De La Salle University revealed that the limited participation of the youth and the age gap of parishioners need to be looked into, in order to strengthen BECs. The survey was said to be partial as a more comprehensive methodology was promised in the next three years. Nevertheless, the study, thus far, observed that BECs effectively promotes the mission of the Church.
The concurrent sessions elicited wide participation from the delegates. The topics were: Spirituality of Stewardships; Pastoral Management for Priests towards BEC; Ongoing Faith Formation; Participation of the youth and millennial and the Role of Social Media; the Ecology and Indigenous People’s Challenges; the Mission and Missionary Spirituality; Critical Consciousness and the Promotion of Peace and Justice; Sustainability of BECs.
The sub-regions had the opportunity to discuss their respective contexts. For Bikol, the most pressing concern is the lack of understanding, among the clergy and laity, of the nature and character of BECs. The commitment of parish priests was noted as essential in the envisioned growth of BECs. The prevalent poverty in the region was also identified as a barrier to full implementation.
Exposure to various parishes capped the assembly. Delegates from the Archdiocese of Caceres interacted with several BECs in the parishes of St. Francis of Assisi and San Miguel, both in Davao City.