Over the weekend, I conducted a seminar on Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) in Tacloban, Leyte, to members of BEC parish formation teams (PFT) from 40 parishes of the archdiocese of Palo. Over 200 lay volunteer pastoral agents came, including some religious sisters. Sr. Betty, the coordinator of the diocesan BEC team was expecting less than 150. I had to brush up my "waray-waray" since the the participants came from the waray-speaking area of the archdiocese.
In the morning of the first day (Jan. 9), I broke the participants into 20 workshop groups for some levelling-off of their understanding of the BEC vision. I started my talks in the afternoon and the follow day, with an open forum after each presentation.
These the are the topics that I discussed with them:
1. Basic Ecclesial Communities - a New Way of Being Church (BEC vision and culture)
2. Pre-requisites for building BECs (Diocesan Pastoral Thrust, Initiative and support of the clergy, role of Parish Formation Team, strategic pastoral planning, etc.)
3. Evangelizing Component of forming BECs
4. Organizing Component
5. Mobilizing BECs for Social Transformation
6. Approaches in Building BECs (piloting, saturation)
I also taught the participants the waray version of the two songs on BECs which I composed (Awit han BEC, Gudti nga Singbahanong Katilingban).
I am glad that a lot of progress has been made in the building up of BECs in the archdiocese of Palo. Less than ten years ago, Palo was the only diocese that didn't have any clear BEC program. I had conducted BEC seminars in four dioceses in Leyte and Samar (Naval, Borongan, Catarman, Calbayog) except Palo. Then in 2005, one year before he retired, Archbishop Pedro Dean invited me to conduct a seminar for his priests which was held in Cebu. When Archbishop Jose Palma took over, he adopted the building up of BECs as the pastoral thrust of the diocese. He also formed the diocesen BEC team headed by Sr. Betty and in coordination with Fr. Gani, the pastoral director. In 2007, I was invited to conduct a seminar for the parish formation teams coming from cebuano-speaking parishes (20 parishes) of the archdiocese.
I hope that the seminars that I have conducted will be helpful in the growth of BECs in eastern visayas.