The Catholic Bishops’ Conference has designated 2017 as the year of the Parish as Communion of Communities.
“This is a year when we more deeply discern not only the structures of governance of our dioceses and parishes but also of the quality of faith life in the parish, the fellowship, belongingness, and participation by its members. In a special way we shall probe into our efforts of making the parish a communion of communities, a communion of Basic Ecclesial Communities and of covenanted faith-communities and ecclesial movements. We shall discern and implement measures on how communities of consecrated life may be more integrated into the life and mission of the parish. In brief, our focus will be the building of a parish that is truly a faith community immersed in the lives of its people.”
The priority for this year is forming and revitalizing of Basic Ecclesial Communities in every parish as agents of communion, participation and mission with the active participation of other faith communities, lay organizations, movements and associations (LOMAs).
Following the template set by the CBCP for the nine years leading to 2021 – the 5th Centenary for the Evangelization of the Philippines, the observance of the Year of the Parish as Communion of Communities (henceforth YPCC) has three components: (a) Formation, (b) Celebration (c) Legacy
What follows are some concrete ideas and suggestions how this can be observed in the parishes:
Formation includes orientation, training, evangelizing and education in faith.
It is aimed at a deeper understanding of the parish as communion of communities of missionary disciples of Jesus.
Formation also has an organizing component – the building up and revitalization of BECs within the parish so that they will be formed as agents of communion, participation and mission.
For dioceses/parishes without BECs, this is a time to start. The orientation/ evangelization/ formation sessions should lead to the emergence of BECs.
For those with existing BECs, this is a time for expansion or revitalization through the evangelization and formation seminars.
It is the primary responsibility for the diocesan BEC commissions/formation teams to come up with formation material. The executive secretary and the consultants of the CBCP-BEC Committee are available to give talks and clergy recollection/retreats.
They may utilize the BEC evangelization/ formation modules from CBCP-BEC Committee. They may also seek assistance from various groups and institutions such as Bukal ng Tipan, CFC-FFL,CFC-Global, Institute for Pastoral Development, Catholic Charismatic Extension Services, Socio-Pastoral Institute and other Covenanted Communities.
Objects and Agents of Formation
The growth of the Parish as Communion of Communities/BECs is the primary responsibility of the clergy. The formation of genuine Christian communities/BECs is an integral part of the priest’s pastoral ministry – a ministry of pastoral leadership and communion. This requires a broader understanding of ministry according to the vision of Vatican II and PCP II. The priests have to be challenged to become good shepherds close to the flock with the “smell of the sheep” and filled with missionary dynamism
Lay Pastoral Workers & Leaders
The clergy needs the collaboration of lay pastoral workers, lay leaders & religious who will make up the parish formation teams. The parish priest depends on them to form the BECs – carrying out evangelization and organizing. They therefore need be formed and undergo formation and training to equip them.
Leaders and Members of LOMAs
There are many existing lay organizations, movements and associations in the parish that are by nature trans-parochial. They have their own charisms and have much to contribute to the renewal and revitalization of the parish and the BECs. They need to be re-oriented and awakened to their responsibility to be actively involved in the parish and their respective neighborhood communities and BECs.
BEC Leaders/Core Groups
The initial and ongoing formation of BECs depends on the quality of their leaders. They must undergo formation, work as teams to be more effective.
Local Communities and BECs
The ultimate object and agent of formation are the local communities or BECs that make up the parish as communion of communities. They are to be evangelized and organized and in turn become agents of evangelization and expansion in their own barangay and local communities, reaching out to those who are marginalized and in the peripheries.
Suggested Formation Programs/Activities
– Clergy recollection, workshop or retreat
-Orientation/Training of Parish Formation Teams
– BEC Orientation of LOMAs leaders
– Recruitment and Training of Parish Formation Teams, BEC leaders/core group (including familiarization of BEC evangelization/formation modules)
-BEC orientation seminars for LOMAs members
– Christian leadership seminar
-community evangelization seminar (cf BEC evangelization/formation modules)
– family evangelization sessions (Visita-Familia), men’s evangelization
– Basic Bible Seminar, Basic Liturgy Seminar, Social Action Orientation Seminar
– Seminar on Spirituality of Stewardship
Launching of YPCC
Diocesan BEC Assembly/Gathering (representatives from all parishes)
Culmination of YPCC
BEC-style Parish fiesta (potluck, table-fellowship/program by BEC zones/cluster)
Preceded by Novena sponsored by BEC zones
Trinity Sunday Parish-wide Assembly/YPCC celebration (simultaneous, nationwide on June 11, 2017.
A whole day event in the parish which gathers all the BECs and also other faith-communities.
It can be celebrated on Saturday which culminates with an anticipated Mass or on Sunday which begins with a Mass.
There will be:
(1) talks sharing of experiences,
(3) cultural presentations, etc.
The diocese/parish may add other activities
Legacy involves initiating/introducing sustainable structures, programs and activities that will last beyond 2017.This requires long term pastoral planning.
Monitoring-Control Mechanism, etc.
Budgeting/Financial Resource mobilization
Key result areas included for planning (cf BEC Evangelization/Formation Modules)
Ongoing Formation, Evangelization, Catechesis
Structures of Koinonia –
Subdividing the BECs/ Communities into neighborhood-family groupings (7-12 families)
Regular assemblies/gathering of all FGs |
Zone structures linking up BECs
Regular meetings of BEC leaders at the parish level
Instituting Regular Parish assemblies
Reconfiguring Parish Pastoral Council (integrationof BEC zones)
Celebration of Communion/Table-fellowship
Misa to Lamesa (potluck/agape meal after BEC Mass)
BEC-style fiesta (parish/BEC level)
Formation, Evangelization, Catechesis
Construction of a parish formation center building (if there is none)
Drafting & adoption of a continuing parish evangelization and catechetical program (for children, youth, adult, men)
Setting up/activation of the parish education committee (EdCom) that will oversee & implement parish evangelization & catechetical program
Setting up BEC/Barangay level education committee
Parish level regular meeting of BEC EdCom heads
Formation/Activation of parish liturgical/ worship commission to assist the parish priest in liturgy planning and overseeing
Formation of BEC Lay Liturgical Leaders for regular weekly Bible-Service or Liturgy of the Word for BEC chapels
Adopting & distributing commentaries for Sunday readings
Set up regular schedule of Masses in BECs
Introduce BEC-sponsored masses in parish church
Set up & activate a parish social action commission/ Caritas office
Initiate programs that would assist the members of the parish and BECs address their concrete needs & concerns:
Poverty alleviation (IGP, livelihood, job placement, coop, micro-finance)
Human Rights monitoring
Environmental (reforestation, anti-mining, etc)
Disaster Preparedness & Management
Join program for good governance – UBAS (Ugnayansa Barangay at Simbahan), IRA watch, BUB
What matters most is to transform the parish into a center of missionary outreach where every individual member and every BEC imbibe a missionary spirit and dynamism and go to the peripheries, to the marginalize and alienated
The effort to make the parish a communion of communities will continue even beyond 2017.
Fr. Amado L. Picardal,CSsR, STD