Dr. Estela Padilla, the only lay and woman member of the Office for Theological Concerns of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, participated in the group’s annual meeting held in Taipei from May 2-8, 2016. They discussed their theological project on the practice of popular religiousity in Asia. They also discussed the next Asian Bishops’ Theological Updating in 2018. They also did two public lectures at the Furen University theological students as well as one open to all Catholics. Estela gave one lecture where the Vice President-elect of the Republic of China (Taiwan), His Excellency Chen Chien-jen’, attended, shown in the second picture (wearing white) where the Vice President affirmed Estela on her talk and quoted her heavily in his own speech. It is always an honor for a Bukal member to contribute to theologizing in Asian settings.
In In 1998, the CICM-RP Provincial Council decided to turnover the St. Joseph Parish of Las Piñas to the Archdiocese of Manila (Las Piñas is now a part of the Diocese of Parañaque). The turnover was implemented on May 15, 1999. Fr. Mark Lesage, CICM, who was then the parish priest, went on sabbatical.
In Jan 2000, Fr. Mark Lesage came back from sabbatical. Cardinal Sin offered a possible parish in Novaliches. Together with the Fr. Provincial Percy Bacani, Fr. Mark went for an ocular inspection. After the visit the Provincial asked him to be in charge of the Maryhill Retreat center. For the past years, the Maryhill center has been the topic of discussion in the recollections of the Manila District since the province did not exactly know what to do with it. Some suggestions were to sell the property or to donate it or…….
Since Fr. Mark was reluctant to run a retreat house, the Provincial made the mission very clear, “I want you to pass on to dioceses and parishes what you have learned in Las Piñas about BECs “. In fact during the past years many people have come to Las Piñas to observe the growing BECs and participate in the trainings conducted in the parish. There was even a plan by the Archdiocese of Manila to make the parish of Las Piñas a “formation parish” for BECs.
Another reason why Fr. Mark accepted this offer was that some members of the parish BEC team has had growing influence within BEC circles and they were clamoring for wider opportunities then just a parish.
To have a vision for this center was the priority of the team
After getting the confirmation of members of the BEC formation team of the Parish of Las Piñas that they were willing to help in putting up the center and securing their commitment to be of service whenever available, an initial brainstorming with around 15 attendees was held at Maryhill. After a long period of prayer, reflection, and scripture reading, the group shared their dreams of what this place could be in the future. Succeeding meetings were held to clarify the identity of the center and articulate it into a vision statement.
The Vision, Mission and Goals of the center was approved by the Council
A meeting was then held in Maryhill where the team presented to the Provincial Council its initial Vision, Mission, and Goals and also a proposed name. The council approved this new mission and contributed to naming the center, “Bukal ng Tipan”.
A venue and a center
Fr. Mark was entrusted by the Provincial Council with the whole Maryhill compound except the Novitiate area and to renovate the Maryhill building and surroundings to be a more attractive retreat center in the service of Philippine Church. In the first place, Maryhill was to be a center where people and their mission can be renewed and more importantly be trained to be become leaders and facilitators of a participatory church especially through BECs. Maryhill was to continue as retreat venue for schools and parishes. Young facilitators, trained by the Bukal Team could also assure the missionary character of this CICM entity.
It was planned that the revenues from the venue would sustain the center and to provide for the maintenance and improvements as well.
Bukal ng Tipan in Maryhill celebrates its anniversary every 2nd week of March.