The leader of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) in the Philippines vowed to work for justice and the protection of the environment as they ended their national assembly on Nov. 14.
“We are called to proclaim God’s kingdom in justice and love,” said Bishop Jose Cabantan of Malaybalay in his homily during the culmination of the gathering in Davao City.
“Also, we are called to share this Gospel to different sectors of our community,” added the bishop, head of the committee on BECs of the Philippine bishops’ conference.
He reminded the lay leaders to always be rooted in “Christian spirituality” to be able to “proclaim the Good News that the Lord has entrusted to us.”
The prelate cited the need to share the Gospel values to indigenous peoples and to young Filipinos.
In his message, Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the bishops’ conference, called for ongoing training programs and support systems that will sustain BECs.
He said the Church’s fundamental and continuing task is to develop BECs where their faith “may increase and grow stronger.”
Drawing parallelism between the Church and the BECs, he stressed that both are built by the Eucharist.
“A BEC must always be a liturgical community, a worshipping community, as it must also be a teaching and witnessing community and the same time, a BEC must truly be a serving and shepherding community,” said the prelate.
At least 700 BEC leaders attended the four-day assembly that was hosted by the Davao Archdiocese.
A study done by a research team from the De La Salle University on how organizations and parishes work together was presented during the meeting.
The study found out that in many parishes there are “competition of denominations” while youth participation in BEC activities are “limited.”
The gap between senior and youth members and the clamor to form structures in appointing BEC leaders were among the issues that need to be addressed, said the study.
The study, however, noted that the BEC is “alive and active” in promoting the mission of the Church in the Philippines.
“The presence of the Holy Spirit is active today among BECs,” it said, adding that BEC members strive to integrate faith in daily life.
“This only proves that the challenge of Pope Francis to bring a new evangelizing fervor to renew the Church is actively present in the BECs in the Philippines,” it said.
In 1991, the formation of BECs in the Philippines has been adopted as the pastoral priority of the Church throughout the country.
The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines decreed that BECs “must be vigorously promoted for the full living of the Christian vocation in both urban and rural area.”
The council directed the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to “issue an official statement on BECs … making it clear that they are not simply another organization.”
In 2007, the bishops’ conference established the Episcopal Committee on Basic Ecclesial Communities with the task of assisting the dioceses in the promotion and formation of BECs.