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Basic Ecclesial Communities An Expression of a Renewed Church in the Philippines. Rev. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR, STD. The PCP II Vision of a Renewed Church and the Ecclesiology of Basic Ecclesial Communities

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basic ecclesial communities an expression of a renewed church in the philippines
Basic Ecclesial CommunitiesAn Expression of a Renewed Churchin the Philippines

Rev. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR, STD

The PCP II Vision of a Renewed Church and the Ecclesiology of Basic Ecclesial Communities
  • Historical and Phenomenological Perspectives of the Basic Ecclesial Communities in the Philippines
the pcp ii vision of a renewed church

The PCP II Vision of a Renewed Church

The Basic Ecclesial Communities: An Ecclesiological Perspective

the second plenary council of the philippines pcp ii
The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II)
  • A gathering of over 450 Church leaders (bishops, priests, religious & lay people) held in January to February 1991
  • Held 26 years after Vatican II and 5 years after EDSA uprising
  • To reflect on the identity and mission of the Church in the context of new realities
pcp ii document
PCP II Document
  • Lights & Shadows: The Philippine Situation
  • A Vision of a Church Renewed
  • Renewed Integral Evangelization
  • Workers of Renewal
pcp ii vision of a renewed church
PCP II Vision of a Renewed Church

Community of Disciples

living in communion

participating in the mission of Christ

as a prophetic, priestly & kingly people

and as a Church of the Poor

sources of pcp ii vision of a renewed church
Sources of PCP II Vision of a Renewed Church
  • Vatican II Vision of the Church as Communion and as People of God – a priestly, prophetic and kingly people
  • MSPC (Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Conference) Vision of the Church as a witnessing, worshipping and serving community
  • The FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference) vision of the Church as Church of the Poor.
PCP II brings together under the heading of Community of disciples the various models of the Church: communion, herald (prophetic), sacramental (priestly), servant (kingly), & church of the poor.
  • It further links its realization in the Basic Ecclesial Communities
becs as expression of the pcp ii vision of a renewed church
BECs as Expression of the PCP IIVision of a Renewed Church

“Our vision of the Church as communion, participation and mission, about the Church as priestly, prophetic, & kingly people, and as a Church of the Poor- a church that is renewed - is today finding expression in one ecclesial movement. This is the movement to foster Basic Ecclesial Communities.” par 137

pcp ii vision of becs community of disciples
PCP II Vision of BECs: Community of Disciples








Church of the Poor

becs as way of being church
BECs as Way of Being Church
  • Thus, when we speak about a new way of being Church we refer to the PCP II vision of renewed Church which finds expression in the BECs.
  • What can be said about the Church in general can be said about BECs. The BECs are the microcosm of the Church – it is a new way of being Church.
  • The BECs are the most local expression of the Church: the church at the grassroots, the church in the neighborhood, the church in the barangay.
becs a way of being church
BECs a Way of Being Church
  • Through the BECs, the Church is truly experienced as a community of disciples.
  • The lay faithful experience communion.
  • The lay faithful live out their vocation as people of God that participates in Christ’s prophetic, priestly and kingly mission
  • The church becomes truly the Church of the Poor
the church as communion
The Church as Communion
  • The image of Church as communion emphasizes the communitarian and interpersonal dimension of the Church.
  • Ecclesial communion can be lived out in various levels:
    • Universal (communion of local Churches)
    • Local (communion of dioceses/parishes)
    • Parish (communion of BECs)
becs as expression of communion
BECs as Expression of Communion
  • According to John Paul II, the BECs can be “true expression of communion and a means towards construction of a more profound communion.”
  • In the BECs the members have a strong sense of belonging & responsibility for one another.
  • The members experience the bond of unity which is based on shared faith, celebrated in the breaking of the bread, concretely expressed in the sharing of material goods.
living in communion as becs
Living in Communion as BECs
  • A new way of being Church means looking at the parish as network of BECs – a communion of communions.
  • The members of BECs experience communion among themselves, while each BEC is linked to other BECS.
  • Although ministered by lay leaders, the BECs maintain a bond of communion with their pastors – the parish priests & the bishop.
church as people of god prophetic priestly kingly
Church as People of God: Prophetic, Priestly & Kingly
  • Vatican II & PCP II views the Church as a people of God that is prophetic, priestly & kingly by nature and mission.
  • This image of the Church asserts that all the baptized share in the life and mission of the Church.
  • Thus, the laity have the right and responsibility to actively participate in the prophetic, priestly and kingly mission of the Church
prophetic priestly kingly people
Prophetic, Priestly, Kingly People
  • This provides us with a holistic view of the Church.
  • It negates the exclusively liturgical/ sacramental image of the Church.
  • The Church is not only a worshipping community, it is also a prophetic and servant community.
  • This image of the Church can be experienced by ordinary lay people at the BECs since these are prophetic, priestly and servant communities.
the church as prophetic people
The Church as Prophetic People
  • It has the mission of proclaiming the Good news – a mission of evangelization & catechesis.
  • It is also called to be the conscience of society – this is the mission of denouncing evil and all its manifestation: injustice, oppression, violence, the culture of death.
  • It witnesses to the word & calls people to conversion.
  • The prophetic mission of the church can be exercised in the universal and local level by the hierarchy and the laity,
becs as prophetic communities
BECs as Prophetic Communities
  • It is in and through BECs that lay people can participate in the prophetic mission of the Church.
  • The BECs come together to listen to the Word, to proclaim and give witness to it.
  • They are evangelized and evangelizing communities, they are witnessing communities.
  • BECs have the task of evangelizing & catechizing families, neighborhood communities and barangays.
becs as prophetic communities1
BECs as Prophetic Communities

BECs carry out their prophetic & evangelizing mission whenever they come together in their homes and chapels for their bible-service to reflect on the word of God and their concrete situation.

The BECs also exercise the prophetic role by denouncing evil in all its manifestation: the culture of death, the violation of human rights, injustice, exploitation, oppression, etc.
  • The BECs call everyone to conversion
  • The BECs announce a message of salvation & liberation, of justice and peace.
the church as priestly people
The Church as Priestly People
  • The Church is a worshipping and celebrating community.
  • The priesthood of the faithful is expressed in the full and active participation in the liturgical and sacramental celebration.
  • The lay-faithful can exercise their priestly mission not only in the parish level but also in BECs.
becs as priestly communities
BECs as Priestly Communities
  • They gather weekly in their chapel to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word presided by lay leaders.
  • Their monthly or bi-monthly celebration of the Eucharist with the parish priest is festive and well participated.
  • They have communal liturgies or rituals for various occasions (birthdays, planting & harvesting, sickness, wakes & funerals)
priestly worshipping communities
Priestly/Worshipping Communities


Liturgy of the Word

BEC Mass

the kingly servant people
The Kingly/Servant People
  • The Church as a Kingly People is called to be a Servant Church.
  • The mission of the church is not purely spiritual.
  • The Church is called to be attentive to the situation of poverty, injustice, armed conflict, human rights violation, ecological degradation,
  • PCP II calls for a renewed social apostolate and for the Church to actively participate in the work for justice, peace, development & integrity of creation. The church is to be involved in social transformation.
becs as serving communities
BECs as Serving Communities
  • It is in & through the BECs that lay people can actively participate in the process of social transformation.
  • In response to the problem of poverty, they can set up socio-economic projects (IGP, livelihood, cooperatives, sustainable agriculture, etc.)


becs as serving communities1
BECs as Serving Communities

In response to the armed conflict, they can establish peace zones and be part of the peace movement that pressures the government and revolutionary forces to pursue the peace process.

becs as serving communities2
BECs as Serving Communities
  • To ensure clean and honest elections, the BECs can be mobilized to help the PPCRV or NAMFREL.
  • They can help in defending the environment
  • They can be mobilized to participate in nationwide prayer rallies and vigils for various causes taken up by the CBCP or the diocese
the church of the poor
The Church of the Poor
  • The most popular image of the Church in PCP II – the Church of the poor
  • This requires that the leaders and members of the Church embrace evangelical poverty, live a simple life-style and share their resources with the poor.
  • Those who are not poor are called to make an option for the poor, to be in solidarity with the poor and to defend their rights.
  • The poor members are empowered & called to actively participate in the life & mission of the Church.
becs as expression of the church of the poor
BECs as expression of the Church of the Poor
  • The BECs enable the poor to embrace evangelical poverty and to actively participate in the Church’s prophetic, priestly and pastoral mission
  • The poor are not only evangelized, they also become evangelizers
  • The poor are not just passive recipients of aid, they are active participants in the process of social transformation. The poor are empowered to struggle for peace, justice, development, liberation and the integrity of creation
becs in the philippines

BECs in the Philippines

Historical & Phenomenological Perspective

emergence of becs
Emergence of BECs
  • The BECs (BCCs) first emerged in Mindanao, Southern Philippines in the late 60s, a few years after Vatican II
  • The formation of BECs was part of post-conciliar renewal carried out by foreign missionaries and local clergy.
  • The Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Conference (MSPC) promoted the formation of BECs since the early 1970s
growth of becs under martial law
Growth of BECs under Martial Law
  • Many BECs in Mindanao, Visayas & Luzon were formed during the Martial Law period.
  • The unhampered growth of BECs from the early 70s to the late 70s. There were various groups & institutions promoting BECs: MSPC, KrisKa, RMT, BCC-CO, etc.
  • Many BECs that emerged became prophetic & acted as centers of resistance to the Marcos regime.
Awareness/conscientization seminars were given that awakened the members of the BECs to the reality of the situation.
  • The liturgies that were celebrated during Advent, Christmas, Lent and Holy Week were correlated with the situation of poverty, injustice, oppression and violation of human rights.
  • The drama workshops also highlighted the situation under a repressive dictatorial regime.
  • The ongoing bible-reflection and bible-service also referred to the current situation
The bible-reflection sessions and the liturgies became spaces where people could break the culture of silence and fear and encouraged them to participate in the struggle against the dictatorial regime.
  • There were BECs that became involved in militant activities – such as protest marches and rallies against various issues (military abuses, human rights violations, U.S. bases, dam project, land reform, etc.).
suspicion and repression of becs
Suspicion and Repression of BECs
  • All these led to the suspicion that the BECs were being used by groups struggling against the Marcos regime.
  • In a master’s thesis on “Contemporary Religious Radicalism in the Philippines” which he submitted to the National Defence College in the 1979, Colonel Galileo Kintanar wrote that the religious radicals were building up the BECs as “an infrastructure of political power” that could pose as a threat to national security.
The identification of the BECs with the Left gave the military a pretext to harass the BECs.
  • Many of the development projects such as cooperatives, communal farms & community based health projects were suppressed on the suspicion that these were being used to support the revolutionary movement.
  • There were chapels that were closed and the people were forbidden to gather for prayer and bible-service.
  • Leaders and members of BECs were arrested and some were killed. Those who died were regarded as BEC martyrs.
The military harassment and the loss of support from some bishops and priests led to the weakening of many BECs.
  • Many of those that continued focused on liturgical activities and abandoned the developmental and militant activities to play safe.
  • Yet there were still BECs that continued to exercise their prophetic mission.
development of becs after edsa
Development of BECs after EDSA
  • After the collapse of the Marcos dictatorial regime, BECs continued to develop
  • Many remained liturgical-evangelical oriented
  • Some BEC programs identified with the left folded up due to the split within the revolutionary movement and the drying up of funds (BCC-CO)
  • But there were BECs that engaged in environmental issues (anti-logging, anti-dam, anti-mining)
  • Others got involved in peace-building, setting up the “Peace Zones.”
  • Other BECs emphasized economic development & poverty alleviation programs
New impetus in building BECs after PCP II – diocesan approach
  • Building BECs as part of PCP II reception & implementation (renewing the church)
  • The BECs are now established in over 55 dioceses in the Philippines. BEC National Assembly in November 2002
  • The CBCP has recently established a national BEC desk headed by Archbishop Quevedo that will help in promoting the formation of BECs all over country
ii describing becs

BECs as generic term for small faith-communities emerging at the grassroots (BCCs, SCCs, GKKs, GSK, MSKs, KrisKa, Damayan & other local names)


They are communities, not organizations, prayer groups, societies or associations. They are not specialized groups but stable environment. The members often live in close proximity and interact with each other regularly.

basic communities
Basic Communities

They are basic communities, because of their size, the quality of relationship among the members and their social location (base, grassroots)


They are referred to as ecclesial because they are considered as a way of being Church.

They are the church at the microcosm, the church at the grassroots – in the neighborhood & the village.

description pcp ii
Description: PCP II

They are small communities of Christian, usually of families who gather around the Word of God & the Eucharist.

These communities are united to their pastors but are ministered to regularly by lay leaders. The members know each other by name & share not only the Word of God & the Eucharist but also their concerns both material & spiritual

They have a strong sense of belongingness & responsibility for one another (par 138)

Usually emerging from the grassroots among poor farmers & workers,

BECs consciously strive to integrate their faith & their daily life.

They are guided & encouraged by regular catechesis.

Poverty & their faith urge their members towards

solidarity with one another,

action for justice

& towards a vibrant celebration of life in the liturgy.

(par 139)

various configurations of becs
Various Configurations of BECs
  • Chapel-based local communities (rural areas, villages, barrios). 40-200 members. They gather in their chapel.
  • Neighborhood cells/family groupings (urban areas). 10-20 members, gather in their homes
  • Combination: chapel-based local communities with neighborhood cells (rural & urban areas).
  • Intentional communities (urban areas). 10-15 members who do not live in close proximity. They gather in their homes, workplace, or institutions.
kinds of becs
Kinds of BECs
  • Evangelical/Liturgical BECs. The activities are limited to bible-sharing/faith-sharing, Celebration of the Word (bible-servic), sacramental & liturgical celebrations (esp. Eucharist). Lacking in social concern. Newly-developed or undeveloped BECs.
  • Holistic/Transformative BECs. BECs with social action component integrated with its evangelizing/worshipping activities. These are the fully developed BECs that work for progress, peace, justice & social transformation. (IGP, livelihood programs, peace zones, etc)
the early shape of the bec
The Early Shape of the BEC


Core Group/



later development of bec
Later Development of BEC




Core Group



structure of developed bec
Structure of Developed BEC

Council of Leaders











parish organizational structure
Parish Organizational Structure


Parish Office


Parish Pastoral


Parish Pastoral Council




Social Action




BEC Zone

BEC Zone

BEC Zone

BEC Zone

BEC Zone

summing up
Summing up
  • BECs have sprouted all over the country
  • There is parallel but uneven development of BECs – in some places they are already established & are part of the structure of the local church, while others are just starting. There are still many places where there are no BECs yet.
  • The formation of BECs is part of the ongoing efforts to renew the Church since Vatican II. It is a new way of being Church.

The BECs are signs of vitality in the Church …

a cause of great hope for the Church,

and a solid starting point for a new society based on a civilization of love.

John Paul II

Redemptoris Missio