Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Conducting the Clergy Retreat of the Archdiocese of Manila

Several months ago, Cardinal Tagle asked me to conduct the annual preached retreat for his priests. Since the top priority of the archdiocese of Manila is the promotion and formation of Basic Ecclesial Communities, he saw it fit that I would be the one to facilitate the retreat.
So last week from July 21-25, the retreat was held in St. Paul Center of Renewal in Alfonso, Cavite. The theme of the retreat: "The Ordained Ministry vis-a-vis The BECs: A New Way of Being Priest for a New Way of Being Church." This was an opportunity for the clergy to reflect on their own life and ministry, based on the Vatican II and PCP II vision of the priesthood and on the priority of the Philippine Church, which is the formation of BECs.
This is the ninth retreat that I have given to priests so far. Last year, around this time, I was conducting the retreat for the clergy of Romblon. I expect to be giving more clergy retreat in the years to come. I feel happy and honored to be doing this. I am fulfilling my life's special mission: promoting the growth of BEC all over the country and at the same time, assisting in the renewal of the clergy. I am convinced that the renewal of the Church as promoted by Vatican II and PCP II can only become a reality with the spread of BECs and with the renewal of the clergy. This, I believe, is my contribution to the Church in the Philippines. This is what energizes me and what gives my life meaning and purpose. I don't mind doing this for the rest of my life - for as long as I am still physically and mentally fit to do this.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Report to the 109th CBCP Plenary Assembly

Last Sunday (July 6), I gave an oral report to the bishops during their plenary assembly held at the Pius XII Center, Manila. Here's the text:

Annual Report of the CBCP-BEC Committee
to the 109th CBCP Plenary Assembly
(July 2013- June 2014)

Meetings of CBCP-BEC Committee and National BEC Team
The Committee met on July 8, 2013 at the Pius XII center in Manila. This was attended by Bishop George Rimando, Bishop Julius Tonel, Bishop Gabriel Reyes, Bishop Jesse Mercado, Bishop Antonieto Cabajog, Bishop Pablo David and Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR. The committee fixed the schedule of the regular meeting and also discussed the concerns and questions that need to be addressed by the committee.

The National BEC Team composed of Bishop George Rimando, Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR, Mgr. Manuel Gabriel, Mgr. Joemarie Delgado and Dr. Estela Padilla, met four times during this period for planning and evaluation, especially in relation to the National Gathering of Diocesan BEC Directors and Coordinators and preparation for the 2015 National BEC Assembly.

National Gathering of Diocesan BEC Directors and Lay Coordinators
The most significant event during this period was the National Gathering of Diocesan BEC Directors and Lay Coordinators. This was held at the Holy Family on September 16-18, 2013. Some 129 diocesan BEC directors and coordinators coming from 64 dioceses  in the Philippines attended this gathering. The objectives of the gathering were the following:
  1. To review recommendations made in previous Gathering of October 2011;
  2. To update participants on the national BEC profile;
  3. To identify concerns, challenges and aspirations in view of their own experiences and in the light of New Evangelization; and
  4. To brainstorm ideas for the BEC National Assembly, slated sometime in 2015 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.
The gathering started at 4:30 pm on September  16, 2013 with welcome remarks by Bishop George Rimando – the chairman of the CBCP-BEC Committee and overall facilitator of this event. This was followed by a roll call and the opening activity. At 5:15 pm Fr. Amado Picardal gave the background and orientation. At 6:15 pm – the opening liturgy facilitated by Mgr Joemarie Delgado and Dr. Estela Padilla. This was followed by dinner
The following morning at six, Archbishop Jose Palma presided at the opening Eucharist. He also gave the keynote message. After breakfast, there were two presentations: Fr. Picardal on “The National BEC Profile (8:30-9:30 am) and Mgr. Manny Gabriel on “New Evangelization and BECs” (10:30 – 11:30 am). During the open forum, Bishop Varquez of Borongan shared his own experience of BECs in his diocese. In the afternoon after lunch-break, the delegates were divided into small groups where they shared their own experiences of how BECs are becoming evangelized and evangelizing communities. This was followed by reporting in plenum. The day culminated with an evening liturgy followed by dinner and socials.
On September 18, the whole morning was spent in brainstorming and planning by regional groupings. There were two questions that the groups answered: (1) their expectations and suggestions for the 2015 BEC National Assembly (theme, process, resource persons, possible venue and dates), (2) how they can enhance their regional networking and cooperation. After lunch break, the delegates gathered for reporting in plenum. After the reporting, Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao shared what happened during the Synod of Bishops which he attended and how BECs was discussed.  Before the end of the session, Fr. Carmelo Diola of Dilaab was given time to explain the printed material that he was giving to the delegates for the coming barangay elections. The closing Eucharist was presided by Archbishop Valles at 5:15 pm.

Regional Networking and Cooperation
The executive secretary attended the following regional level gatherings:

1. Northern Luzon BEC Exchange - held on February 27-March 1, 2014 in Dagupan City. This was attended by 152 BEC promoters and leaders from various dioceses of Northern Luzon. The following dioceses were represented: Alaminos, Lingayen-Dagupan, Urdaneta, San Fernando (La Union), Nueva Segovia, Baguio, Bontok-Lagawe, Tabuk, Tuguegarao, Ilagan, Bayombong, San Jose (Nueve Ecija).

2. National Capital Region BEC Big Day, held on February 15, 2014 at the St. Paul University, Quezon City. This was attended by over  700 BEC formators and leaders from the archdiocese of Manila and the dioceses of Paranaque, Kalookan, Cubao, Pasig, Novaliches and Antipolo.

3. The Meeting of Diocesan BEC directors and coordinators of Central Visayas Region (from Cebu, Maasin, Dumaguete and Tagbilaran). The meeting was held on February 4, 2014 in Tagbilaran, Bohol.

Diocesan/District/Vicariate  BEC Assemblies

The executive secretary was the guest speaker or resource person of the gathering of the following dioceses, districts and vicariates:

1. Mactan Vicariate BEC Assembly held in Maragondon, Cebu on August 6, 2013
2. Palawan South District BEC Assembly  in Narra, Palawan on October 3, 2013.
3. Marbel Diocesan GKK (BEC) Assembly  in Koronadal City on November 30, 2013.
4. Ipil Diocesan  Kriska Leaders' Convention in Buug, Zamboanga Sibugay on Jan. 20-22, 2014.
5. Maasin Diocesan BEC Assembly, in Bato, Leyte on April 8-9, 2014.
6. Gumaca 25th Diocesan MSK Convention in Mulanay, Quezon Province on April 26, 2014.
7. Davao Archdiocesan GKK Gathering  in Davao City on May 26-28, 2014.

 Clergy BEC Workshops/Retreats
1. The executive secretary facilitated the clergy retreat of the Romblon Clergy which was held in Zamboanga City on July 22-25, 2013. The focus of the retreat was ministry and BECs.
2. The chairman (Bishop George Rimando) and executive secretary facilitated the Calbayog Clergy BEC Assessment which was held in Cebu on August 7-9, 2013.
3.  On October 1, 2013, the executive secretary conducted a BEC symposium for the clergy and religious assigned in the South District of the Apostolic Vicariate of Palawan.
4.  On July 20-24, 2014, the executive secretary will conduct a retreat on "Ministry and BECs" for the clergy of the archdiocese of Manila.

Disaster Response

On December 4, 2013, the chairman sent Fr. Picardal to Cebu to attend the meeting of the Eastern Visayas bishops and the various international  Catholic relief services (CRS, Caritas International, etc). The meeting was organized by NASSA to coordinate relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda.
After the meeting, Fr. Picardal came up with a concept paper "The Active Participation of BECs in Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation."  This was published in his column in CBCP Monitor. He also drafted a  bible-sharing method for the use of BECs in disaster affected areas which would help in psycho-spiritual integration and healing process of the people who have gone through traumatic experience and whose faith may have been shaken. This method, as well as the concept paper, was shared with the BEC directors of Palo, Naval, Calbayog and Borongan when he visited them before Christmas.  He also visited the resettlement areas of Typhoon Sendong victims in Iligan to conduct case studies on the efforts of the diocese to integrate the formation of BECs as part of the relief and rehabilitation process. Their experience would be valuable in coming up with best practices that would be helpful other disaster affected areas.
There are modules drafted by the CBCP-BEC office, which can be used in parishes and BECs affected by disasters. These modules can be helpful in the healing process, strengthening of their faith and enabling them to actively participate in the rebuilding and rehabilitation of their communities.

With the climate change and the prevalence of disasters that affect our country, including the BECs, there is a need to come up with protocols and manuals that can help BECs in disaster preparedness, relief and rehabilitation. On May 7-9, 2014, the executive secretary attended the executive course on disaster management held in Miriam College to get ideas for a disaster management manual for BECs.

National BEC Profile

A National BEC profile based on the diocesan BEC profile submitted by 61 dioceses (out of 84 dioceses) was presented to the National Gathering of Diocesan BEC Directors and Coordinators. A summary of the National Profile and the respective diocesan BEC profiles have been uploaded in our website:

Ongoing Projects
We continue conduct case studies on BECs in some urban areas (upper-class subdivision & condominium and urban poor communities).
Seminar-workshop modules for BECs are still being drafted and will be published next year.

Preparation for the 2015 National BEC Assembly
Between the middle of 2014 and the last quarter of 2015, the focus will be the preparation for the National BEC Assembly.
Initial Plan for the BEC National Assembly
1.      The 2015 BEC National Assembly will be held in Manila/NCR
2.      Tentative date: November 11-14, 2015
3.      Attendance: maximum of 15 official delegates including the bishops
4.      Accommodation (including supper & breakfast) for Delegates) : Foster parishes/BECs /families within archdiocese of  Manila & nearby NCR dioceses
5.      Tentative Venue for Plenary & General Assembly : La Salle Greenhills
6.      The host archdiocese of Manila and NCR dioceses will be asked to take care of the meals and snacks in the venue of general assembly (from donations raised from their parishes & BECs)
7.      All members of BECs in NCR and neighboring dioceses will be invited to attend the final day culmination liturgy and program (bring your own provision)
8.      Main Speakers: Cardinal Tagle and Cardinal Quevedo
9.      Suggested theme should highlight the link between BEC and Vatican II
(final plan and details of program and accommodation will be announced later)