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PREX in Caceres

By Nitz Clement Alarcon 

PREX, short for PARISH RENEWAL EXPERIENCE, is a conversion experience, a rediscovery of our faith, a strong recall into belonging to the Church.

PREX is not a new movement nor a new society, neither does it dismantle existing groups and new societies.  It is about parishes renewing themselves.  A step to the awareness that the parish is not a “We” and “They” arrangement, but a family living with and loving one another. The Parish Renewal Experience Seminar started in the early 1970 when Fr. Charles Gallagher, SJ, convened a group of priests and lay people for a reflection on Pope Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi.  The Church is an evangelizer, but she brings by being evangelized herself by constant conversion, in order to evangelize the world with credibility.

In that small gathering, it became clear that, for evangelization to become a reality, it required a people focus.  It should begin with a conversion experience that is oriented to the parish, the basic structure of the Catholic church, and that it must start with the family, the basic unit of society. With this in mind, the group developed guidelines and directions for a weekend parish program.

The pilot PREX Seminar was given in the diocese of Trenton, New Jersey, USA and from this, the weekend experience has spread to thousands of parishes in USA, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Singapore and the Philippines.  Thousands of parish priests have trained in order that they could give the weekend experience to people on their own parishes.

The most active parish in the country that is giving PREX seminars in and out of its own parish is the Good Shepherd Parish at Fairview Park, Quezon City under the spirited leadership of the late Msgr. Fidelis Limcaco, the Parish Priest.  It has outreached in many parishes in the Archdiocese of Manila as well as from Visayas and Mindanao and Luzon.

Here, in the Archdiocese of Caceres the Immaculate Conception Parish (ICP) was represented by two “Seed Participants” to the Good Shepherd Parish the late “Kuya” Msgr. Juan A. Alarcon, Jr., the Parish Priest then, and “Ate” Bless Q. Arquesa, Parish Pastoral Council President then, sometime in December, 1992.

As an outreach of the Good Shepherd Parish Team, the Immaculate Conception Parish PREX I started on January 22 to 24,1993.

The Archdiocese of Caceres consists of ninety-two parish and one mission station. Out of these parishes fifty-five parishes have PREX seminars.

PREX aims to: 1) provide a conversion experience; 2) continue the process of healing and reconciliation with the Catholic faith family; 3) encourage inter family faith relationship within the parish as re-evangelization base and evangelization for; 4.) bring the teachings of Vatican II to the grassroots; 5) prepare our people for bringing the Good News into all levels of humanity and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new.

The PREX formation is a Bible based retreat divided into three days, the content of which were culled from a reflection on Pope Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi, Bible and Church traditions. Topics discussed on the first day, which is a Friday, are Talk 1. Road to Emmaus; Talk 2. Who do men say I AM? On Saturday, the second day, the topics are: Talk 3. The Little Church: the Family; Talk 4. Barriers to being a good Catholic; Talk 5. Obstacles to being a good Catholic; Talk 6. God’s Plan for the Church; Talk 7. Healing and Reconciliation. Sunday, on the third day, the topics are: Talk 8. We are the Church; Talk 9. Church Spirituality and Talk 10. Evangelization.

What I valued most in PREX are the lives that the Lord has touched and made more meaningful through each of our seminar. We are fulfilled with conversion and renewal that happened, the enlightenment that the participants received and their heartfelt responses to the outpouring love that they have experienced. Through PREX I learned the significance of being a Catholic of being a member of the Mystical Body of Christ.  I have felt the love of my co-parishioners.

PREX brought about the reconciliation of priests and people.  This is the initial point of entry for a renewal in the Church.  We preach the Gospel by giving witness to love.  Also deepen the spirituality of the members by constant follow up thru Seminars, Praise and Worship, Retreats and Hour of Grace.

After 30 years of working with PREX, I have felt the presence of God in my life.  Conscious of my own inadequacies and failures I was reluctant to engage in this apostolate since the very beginning. But the grace of God has enabled me to serve. Working with and for PREX has always provided me the opportunity to renew myself, my own vocation to family life and my role in the life of the parish.

I firmly believe, that it is only with the grace of God that I have been able to persevere in serving the Parish.  The Apostolate of renewal has not been easy.  But God makes wonders.  It is wonderful to realize that the PREX of the Parish of the Immaculate Conception has gone beyond its own confines reaching out to other parishes in the Archdiocese I look back with gratitude after three decades. I thank God for the gift of Parish Renewal Experience.

(Mrs. Nitz Clement Alarcon was Vice President of National Association for Parish Prex Secretariat (NAPPS) for the Archdiocese of Caceres for 30 years.)

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