The Church does not refer to the structure alone, but to the community. The same way that a building needs a strong foundation so does the community. Following that example, it only makes sense for members of the Church to study and work on strengthening the Basic Ecclessial Community in a parish.
Sr. Riza Mae Inoc from the Congregation of Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres has dedicated her thesis to this study. She is currently taking Master of Arts in Religious Education at St. Paul University Manila and is waiting for her final defense for her thesis on the BEC of the San Pedro Calungsod Quasi-Parish, a small community in the Our Lady of the Abandoned in Muntinlupa, Diocese of Paranaque.
Her research lead her to the CBP website where she inquired and learned about San Pedro Calungsod Quasi-Parish in the various articles and Facebook posts.
“I was thrilled for this discovery and I immediately found ways to communicate with the parish office. Despite the fact that I did not have any prior experience or earlier contact from any of the parishioners, I felt being drawn to go there and was looking forward to the surprises which God has prepared for me,” Sr. Riza Mae recalls.
Match made in heaven
It was really a match made in heaven, because at the time the Quasi-Parish was also developing their BEC under the guidance of Fr. Didoy Molina.
They aimed to help the residents – all re-settlers from railroad sites. Many of them used to have a difficult time connecting with the Church prior to their relocation because of the economic challenges they faced but the community was dedicated to improve the quality of their lives through the BEC program which Sr. Riza Mae found herself immersed into.
“After my first meeting with the Parish Priest, Fr. Didoy Molina and some members of the Parish Pastoral Council, my study was brought to new direction towards a deeper understanding of the BECs in an urban poor community,” she recalled.
“With the consent of Fr. Molina, I completed the data gathering process within one week in the 16 BECs (“Damayan”) within the 16 blocks of Southville village in Poblacion, Muntinlupa city. I interviewed 16 BEC Leaders.. participated in some BEC/parish activities and engaged in some short and friendly conversation with the parishioners,” Sr. Riza added.
Commitment and collaboration
There are many stories of hardship and triumph from the community, and it is impossible not to be impressed how this new quasi-parish strengthens their daily life through Church programs.
As she completes gathering data and prepares for her final defense, she contemplates on her main takeaway from the study.
“The celebration of the Year of the Parish as “Communion of Communities: in forming and revitalizing the BECs as agents of communion, participation and mission” does not happen overnight and demands commitment and collaboration from all the members of the Church,” she said.
“My study has deepened my appreciation of being part of the Church and has challenged me on how I can better participate or contribute in the vitality and mission of the Church in and through the BECs,” Sr. Riza proclaimed. (Mariz Ponti)