Wednesday, September 14, 2011

At Home in Baclaran

shrine/church of the Mother of Perpetual Help

 the monastery beside the church

 2nd floor corridor outside my room

 my room

my bed and little altar

 Redemptorist community

Since the beginning of June this year, I have been living in the Redemptorist Monastery in Baclaran. The church is the national shrine of the Mother of Perpetual Help and every Wednesday over one hundred thousand devotees flock to the church to attend the masses and novenas which go on from dawn to dusk. Over fifty thousand also attend the Sunday masses. This is the only church that is open 24 hours so there are many people who come even late at night and the wee hours of  the  morning to pray - including well known actors and actresses and some politicians.

There are nine members of the Redemptorist community (4 Australians & 5 Filipinos) - who belong to the Redemptorist Vice-Province of Manila (under the Australian province) and one from the Cebu Province assigned here. There is one Indonesian Redemptorist staying here who is studying at University of Sto. Tomas and another Filipino Redemptorist from Cebu Province who is doing his masteral studies in conselling in de La Salle University. I am a resident here but canonically I am not a member of the community since I belong to the Redemptorist Cebu Province on special assignment to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (as executive secretary of the BEC committee). But I help out in the masses on Wednesdays and Sundays at the shrine-church (usually 7 am on Wednesdays and 6:30 pm or 8 pm on Sundays).

My office at the CBCP building in Intramuros is 8 km away from Baclaran, so I usually go there on weekdays by running/walking or biking (round-trip is 16 km but sometimes I take a longer, round-about route when biking).

I feel very much at home here in Baclaran.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Asian Continental BEC Conference (Taipei)

I just got back from Taipei after a four-day conference on Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) in Asia sponsored by Missio-Aachen. The meeting was held at the One World Community Service Center in Taipei. There were representatives coming from India, Sri Lanka, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and the Philippines. I represented the Philippines. There were two observers from Germany, two theologians-resource persons and two staff from Bukal ng Tipan.

The theme of the gathering was: "BECs in Asia 50 years after Vatican II." Each representative gave a report on the state of the BECs in their country and how the BECs have realized the vision of a renewed Church of Vatican II and the challenges that they face at present. Two invited theologians (Fr. Michael Amaladoss, SJ and Agnes Brazal) shared their reflections on the challenges facing BEC in Asia in light of the recent social, economic, and cultural developments (especially globalization and post (or late) modernity. This meeting was preparation the intercontinental gathering on BECs which will be held in Tubingen, Germany next year. The Latin American BEC continental conference has already been held. The other continental conferences in Africa and North America will also be held soon.

I am just amazed about the growth of BECs not just in the Philippines but also other countries in Asia. This is a sign of hope of the vitality of the Church in this region.

Last night, we had an 11-course dinner with the archbishop of Taipei - archbishop John Hung. The Chinese meals are just so delicious. I have been on a binge these last few days. I suspended my "one meal a day" regimen. A meal-fellowship with the participants of the conference holds precedence over my ascetic. I must have put on weight inspite of maintaining my daily running/walking exercise.

Last Friday, I ran/walked early in the morning from Baclaran to the NAIA 2 airport. I also did the same from the airport to Baclara this evening. While in Taipei, I was able to do some running in the morning and to join the locals in their Taichi exercise.