Wednesday, October 28, 2009

AsIPA - A General Assembly of Asian BEC practitioners

Since last week, October 20 until today, some 225 delegates from 18 countries in Asia met here in Davao for the AsIPA general assembly. AsIPA stands for Asian Integral Pastoral Approach in building Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) or Small Christian Communities (SCCs) as promoted by the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC).
This gathering shows that BECs are spreading all over Asia - not just in the Philippines. There were delegates from India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Hongkong, Myanmar, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, etc.
Archbishop Adams, the papal nuncio to the Philippines, presided at the opening mass at the San Pedro Cathedral on the first day. The first day was devoted to the delegates' sharing on the experiences of BECs in their respective countries. On the third day, Bishop Chito Tagle was the main speaker on the theme on the BECs as Eucharistic Communities. Two bishops from Africa who started the Lumko Institute spoke about the methods of Gospel sharing. On Friday evening, I gave talk on the history of the BECs in the Philippines. This served as a background before the delegates went on a weekend exposure in the BECs in the archdiocese of Davao and in the diocese of Tagum. On Monday, there was a sharing and processing of their experiences. I was part of the committee that drafted the statement which was discussed on Monday afternoon and finally approved on Tuesday afternoon. The closing mass was celebrated at 5 pm Tuesday afternoon and followed by dinner at the Mergrande Seaside resort. Today, the delegates went on sight-seeing.
This is the statement of the Assembly:
Held at Regional Major Seminary, Davao, Philippines
From October 20th - 28th 2009.

“Do this in Memory of me (Lk.22:19):
Bread Broken and Word Shared in SCCs/BECs”

1. Preamble

1.1 The 5th AsIPA General Assembly gathered 225 participants from 17 countries at the Regional Major Seminary, Davao city, Philippines from October 20th to 28th 2009. As we are gathered here we remember that this is the land where some 40 years ago the seeds of BECs were first sown. We also respectfully remember the BEC leaders who were martyred during the Martial Law for their prophetic commitment.

1.2 Linking with the previous assembly in Trivandrum which discussed the sacraments in BECs and continuing the reflections of the 9th FABC Plenary Assembly on, “Living the Eucharist in Asia” and the Synod on the Word of God in Rome, this assembly took the theme of “Do this in Memory of me (Lk.22:19): Bread Broken and Word Shared in SCCs/BECs”. We shared how the Word and the Eucharist were lived in the BECs and we were challenged as to how BECs can become catalysts of integral evangelization.

2. Asian Realities
2.1 One of the tangible results of BECs is the interest in the Word of God and many members own a Bible and make efforts to know the Bible better.
2.2 One of most visible fruits of BECs sharing and living the Word is the growing sense of belongingness in the community.
2.3 Being guided by the Word of God, BECs in participating countries are growing in their commitment to reach out to those in need in the neighbourhood and are enabled to read the signs of the times and respond in the light of the Gospel.
2.4 These BECs have become centres for formation and evangelization which has led to greater participation in the life and mission of the Church.
2.5 Although the participation in the Eucharistic celebrations have increased because of the active involvement of BECs; in many areas the communities are not able to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist regularly due to the lack of ordained ministers.
2.6 In some countries especially in the cities, due to the heavy schedule of work and travel, many BECs have a low attendance for Gospel Sharing or the Eucharist.
2.7 For AsIPA practitioners the different Gospel Sharing methods were as central as the Eucharist in leading them to a Christ experience. The participants also acknowledged the various methods and approaches used in different Asian countries to break the Word of God in the BECs.
2.8 The experience of the various Gospel Sharing methods and the Eucharistic celebrations during this Assembly made us aware of the social and political realities in the region and how the BECs are a sign of hope.

3. Theological Insights
After listening to each others' the sharing of our experiences and from the talks these are the insights that we gained:

3.1 “Do this in memory of me”
Both the Word and the Bread as sources of eternal life are integral parts of the memory of Jesus that BECs celebrate in the Eucharist and keep alive in their communities. (cf.FABC 9, 2009,Final statement)

3.2 “Word Shared”
The BECs gathers for the regular sharing of the Word of God, for “human beings do not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God”(Mt.4:4). The faith of the community is born out of and strengthened by listening to and sharing the Word of God which nourishes their faith and deepens the bond of communion, building up the community. (Eph 4:15-16)

3.3 “Bread broken”
“The Eucharistic community is constitutive of the invisible communion with God in Jesus and the Spirit and the visible communion of all people” (Ecclesia de Eucaristia. 35). The one bread and one cup of wine made from many grains of wheat and grapes crushed, is symbolic of the many members of the body of Christ unified in the Eucharist and of the gathering of all the people in the Kingdom. The breaking of the bread celebrates, deepens and fosters communion manifested in the spirit of unity, participation and sharing in the BECs. The Eucharist makes present the total self-giving and sacrificial love of Jesus (Jn.10:17) so that we may have life in abundance (Jn.10:10).

3.4 “Mission”
At the recently concluded 9th plenary assembly, the Asian bishops stated “we are convinced that meaningful, contemplative, experiential and prayerful celebration of the Eucharist has the potential to render the Christian communities of Asia powerful witnesses of Jesus, witnesses who are bearers of his presence, his love, and his healing power”.(cf. Final Statement). The Breaking of the Word and the Bread challenges the BECs to share all the diverse charisms and gifts given by the Spirit and use them to build up the body of Christ (Eph.4:11-12) and carry out their mission.

4. Challenges
4.1 The presence of the large number of passive and un-churched members in our parishes is a huge challenge to the BECs.
4.2 Impelled by the Word of God, the BECs are called to get involved in the social transformation
4.3 The Church is challenged to face the reality of finding ways and means of making the Eucharist an integral part of the life of the community.
4.4 The coordination of the efforts for forming, strengthening and sustaining BECs in the countries is a demanding task.
4.5 The spirit of the new way of being Church challenges BEC and other Church leaders to exercise a non dominating and facilitative style of leadership.
4.6 The BECs are called to integrate faith and daily life in the Eucharistic celebration so that our lives become sources of healing, unity and reconciliation.
4.7 The BECs nourished by the Eucharist should become ‘Open Doors’ for faith seekers.


5.1 The Assembly gained a deeper understanding of the significant role BECs can play both in celebrating Eucharist meaningfully and living it out in their daily lives.

5.2 We are deeply grateful to Archbishop Fernando Capalla and his local team of organizers for their generous hospitality and hard work to make the Assembly a success.

5.3 Finally we raise our hearts in gratitude and pray to the Almighty Father through Jesus his Son and the Spirit that we may be continually led to grow as communities sharing the Word and breaking the bread. May we be given the grace to die as a grain of wheat to give new life in and through BECs. ‘THY KINGDOM COME HERE IN OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD”

No comments: