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Bicol dioceses identify new strategies for BEC formation

By Natalie Hazel P. Quimlat, M.D.


In the recently concluded 5th Basic Eccelsial Communities (BEC) National Assembly held in Bacolod City, a regional meeting was held where BEC team leaders of the Archdiocese of Caceres and her suffragan Dioceses gathered to discuss the region’s new thrusts, strategies and pathways for BEC formation.


Presented by Fr. Francis Tordilla during the plenary session, the plan identifies religious organizations and the youth as key lay collaborators in promoting BECs.


Sodalitas to promote religious vocations in every BEC


For new thrusts and strategies, Tordilla mentioned that a reorientation in BEC formation for existing religious organizations is needed to prevent misunderstanding among members of the community. Furthermore, for new pathways, it was identified that “creating religious organizations dedicated to support and nourish BECs” is a vital tool in promoting BEC formation. Sample organizations were mentioned as follows: Hermanos de San Jose for fathers, Hermanidad for BEC leaders and Sodalitas for religious vocations. According to Tordilla, Hermanidad aims “to develop a certain spirituality [in accordance with] the BEC way” while Sodalitas will be a group of prayer warriors assigned to promote religious vocations and recruit “BEC priests and religious men and women”.


Training for the Youth


“Young people are not simply suppliers of talents and skills, or auxiliaries of older and senior BEC leaders. [It is important to treat the youth as BEC missionaries as well],” Tordilla said in his presentation. Early skills training for the young second-liners to become BEC leaders is important in making the communities sustainable.


BEC as a lived experience


One of the suggestions to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines BEC National Office is “to create a BEC course for lay and priest enthusiasts”. Moreover, the Bicol group observed that a BEC course is crucial not only during the initial formation of priests but also during their ongoing formation, as BEC must be a “lived experience and [a] mission”.


Another suggestion was to establish a Pastoral Management Standard to aid Bishops and priests, since some may be “reluctant cooperators or collaborators, not knowing how to proceed” in the day-to-day life of BECs. In line with this, in his opening statement, Tordilla also discussed benchmarking as a tool for regional monitoring of BECs. “We can support [others] by inviting them to visit by benchmarking the BECs in other Dioceses,” he said. Other tools identified include visiting communities that need more help with BEC formation.


Cultural mapping and Purposive direction setting


Other new pathways identified include cultural mapping and purposive direction setting. Cultural mapping will be done with the help of social scientists. Its aim is to identify not only similarities and differences among the Bicol Dioceses but also to point out the unique characteristics of each one. Purposive direction setting, on the other hand, was reported by one of the Dioceses of the Bicol region. In the report, it was said that “the family is the focus, BEC is the locus, synodal shepherding is the process, and living out the Word with the Eucharist is the spirituality.”


The 5th BEC National Assembly was held on November 20 to 24 at the Sacred Heart Seminary in Bacolod City, and was attended by over 500 delegates.

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