Updates (January to May 2014)

Diocese of Gumaca: Goal Setting and Action Planning

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. (A Joy Ever New, a Joy which is Shared, Evangelii Gaudium #3)
1Bukal ng Tipan regards it a privilege to be a journeying partner of the Diocese of Gumaca. For more than five years now, the team has always been enriched with this partnership. With the pastoral priority that the diocese is taking for the next three years (2014-2016) which is Pagsasabuhay ng Salita ng Diyos (Living God’s Word) in families and in the neigborhoods/MSKs and KMSKs (BECs), we are more than inspired with the goals and objectives that they have laid out in their pastoral plan. The team facilitated the goal-setting and action planning with the different diocesan commissions late last year. Programs, sessions, activities, etc. were planned. To further give flesh to these plans, a skills training on designing programs as well as facilitating them will be given to the vicariate teams this last week of April. The young clergy who have not undergone the training courses under Bukal shall also attend the (W)holistic Formation 1 Course this April. Proclaiming and living God’s word in the different corners of the Diocese of Gumaca is truly an apt response to the invitation of renewing personal encounters with Jesus. And Bukal feels honoured to be a part of this.

Holy Family Parish, Maguikay, Cebu: Participatory Process of Revisiting the Vision

Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”. (A Joy Ever New, a Joy which is Shared, Evangelii Gaudium #7)
3The Participatory Process of Revisiting the Vision currently undertaken by the Holy Family Parish of Maguikay, Mandaue attests to this statement. With the assistance of Bukal ng Tipan, the parish has started consulting the people since January as to what kind of church they think could respond to their present situation in their respective neighbourhoods and chapel communities. The experiences of the facilitators shared as they did the house-to-house visitation – getting to know the situations of their parishioners, listening to their concerns and dreams, and seeing them expressed their gratitude that the parish reaches out to them and makes them feel that they belong – were indeed significant experiences of encountering Jesus in people. By May, a drafting assembly will be held to gather all these church elements consulted from people and together, the parish delegates shall revisit their vision statement. Afterwhich, it will be validated down the different groups of the parish and will finally be ratified in June on the occasion of the Parish Foundation day.

St. Joseph Parish, Irisan Baguio: Leadership Training

A renewal of preaching can offer believers, as well as the lukewarm and the non-practising, new joy in the faith and fruitfulness in the work of evangelization. The heart of its message will always be the same: the God who revealed his immense love in the crucified and risen Christ. (Eternal Newness, Evangelii Gaudium #11)

4Such was Bukal ng Tipan’s experience when we gave a leadership training to the parish leaders of St. Joseph Parish, Irisan. Last February 7-9, Fr.Neme, Nhap and Aleli shared with the enthusiastic leaders an understanding of a participatory church and some skills on planning as well as gospel sharing method that embraces this vision. The training and prayerful moments offered were well-accepted by the participants. It is with much hope that the 3-day experience has offered new hope and fruitfulness in the work of evangelization of these parish leaders.

Updates (March to May 2014)

“It is important always to know that the first word, the true initiative, the true activity comes from God and only by inserting ourselves into the divine initiative, only begging for this divine initiative, shall we too be able to become – with him and in him – evangelizers”.[81] This principle of the primacy of grace must be a beacon which constantly illuminates our reflections on evangelization.

In this modern world where social media is the new religion for the youth, God’s Word is not heard and received by the young generation. We need to take the challenge to ‘recover the freshness of the Gospel’ by proclaiming it in new ways. This summer, Bukal Ng Tipan journeyed with different groups of young people to share God’s Word in the most creative and up to date way.
The Youth Bible Camp is a program that has been offered by Bukal ng Tipan since early 2000s. It orients participants on the Scriptures from the Old Testament to the New Testament while providing them the opportunity to reflect on their own personal journeys. As they understand the Word of God, they also grow in deeper awareness of God in their own stories and life challenges. The program was endorsed by the Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) and the Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate (ECBA) in 2002.


April 10-13, 2014

6145 active young people composed of high school and college students, young professionals, youth leaders and animators from the Divine Savior Vicariate Forane conducted their annual Youth Bible Camp held at Malamig National High School, Gloria, Oriental Mindoro. The participants were divided into four groups representing the four Gospels and they were all creative in expressing their talents in singing, dancing and even in writing their own Psalms and Epistles. It was an evangelizing experience for all inspired by the Word of God transforming the hearts and minds of the young people. The camp was coordinated by the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan, Orinetal Mindoro headed by Maris Montiano and Lisa Magmanlac and facilitated by their youth leaders and college seminarians. Andrew Velasquez of Bukal ng Tipan also joined the team.

May 23-25, 2014

Five Kingdoms. Three Days. Six parishes. One hundred eighty participants. One God!

These are the words to describe the Youth Bible Camp held at Mendenilla’s farm, Catanauan Quezon which was organized by Fr. Tony Ryan, Youth Director, Diocese of Gumaca. Among the camp highlights were the 7 art installations depicting the 7 stations of the Exodus Walk from slavery to Egypt up to the Promised Land. The camp began with a solemn Bible Enthronement and the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist. There was fun throughout the camp. For instance, a Bible Party was held on the last night where all participants arrived in colorful costumes representing a Biblical character they have reflected on. It was an enjoyable night of singing, dancing and praying with Moses, Queen Esther, St. Paul, etc… Andrew Velasquez and Charlon Agos of Bukal ng Tipan facilitated the camp together with Youth leaders from the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan and the seminarians from Gumaca.

May 26-27, 2014

750 young people from the different youth organizations of San Agustin Parish in Baliuag, Bulacan gathered together at Immaculate Concepcion Seminary in Guiguinto, Bulacan for a dynamic and creative experience of God’s Word. The salvation history was presented with colorful visuals and personal reflections with sharing. At the end of the camp, the participants felt the Spirit like a breath of fresh air for them, enabling them to commit to become modern prophets for their respective groups and communities. Maritoni Suarez, youth minister from San Agustin Parish headed the camp together with Rusty Mendoza and Ferly Delos Santos (facilitators from Bukal Ng Tipan).

181. The kingdom, already present and growing in our midst, engages us at every level of our being and reminds us of the principle of discernment which Pope Paul VI applied to true development: it must be directed to “all men and the whole man”.[145] We know that “evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man’s concrete life, both personal and social”.[146]

People living in resettled communities who wear their faith as their breastplate live with hope in the midst of the everyday challenges they face. Faith and life, prayer and action go together. As survival is a daily reality for them, God’s Kingdom is realized and experienced in their community especially with the young. Bukal ng Tipan witnessed two life-changing events in two separate settings:

April 21-25, 2014

8The Bahay-Lingkod Community Center (BLCC) at Paliparan, Dasmarinas Cavite, is one of the centers run by the Sisters of Social Services headed by Sr. Marilena Narvaez. Bukal Ng Tipan conducted a 5 day Summer Youth Leadership Camp with 60 participants from their 4 barangays. The camp led the young leaders to appreciate the Word of God and the Eucharist. They also underwent formation on the vision of a Participatory Church and experienced what it means to live as a basic ecclesial community (BEC). The participants also went for immersion in 4 different neighborhood areas where they conducted house-to-house visits and interview with the kids. Aside from this, they were given four simultaneous workshops on different pastoral skills namely: Theater Workshop, Preparing Kids’ Liturgy, Facilitating Games for kids and Sunday Catechism for Kids. At the end of the 5-day camp, participants were commissioned to go and serve the kids of their barangay. The program was facilitated by Andrew Velasquez and Charlon Agos of Bukal ng Tipan with Maritoni Suarez (Diocese of Bulacan), Ferly Mangilit (FONDACIO-ASIA) and Bong Santos (St. Joseph Parish,Las Pinas).

(MAY 28, 2014)

975 incoming grade 7 to grade 10 scholars from AMPAP attended a day of Recollection held at San Damian center located at Package 2 Bagong Silang Caloocan. The theme of the recollection was “Being Jesus”. The students reflected on the different characteristics of Jesus that they need to imbibe as young people. The process was done by story telling, Gospel sharing, short film viewing, poster making and tableau presentation. The program culminates with a liturgy with veneration of the cross. Andrew Velasquez from Bukal Ng Tipan facilitated the recollection with Rusty Mendoza (Youth for Christ) and Ferly Mangilit (FONDACIO- Asia).

Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others. As it expands, goodness takes root and develops. If we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good. In this regard, several sayings of Saint Paul will not surprise us: “The love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor 5:14); “Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16). (The delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, Evangelii Gaudium #9)

March 29, 2014 

A beautiful gathering of youth ministers and pastoral workers took place at Bukal ng Tipan last March 29. It wasn’t to plan for any program nor was it training for additional skills. It was a day to dream and DREAM BIG! Realizing the urgent need to integrate young people in the vision of BASIC ECCLESIAL COMMUNITIES, the meeting aimed at understanding this direction and recognizing ‘springs and pathways’ that already exists in youth ministry. Estela Padilla from Bukal’s Local Church Unit, presented BEC history, perspectives and its present status in the Philippine Church. She offered the definition of BEC ‘bilang kultura, spiritualidad at pag-uugali’. With this in mind, the youth ministry as a seedbed for developing leaders in the local church can very well embrace the vision and LIVE IT. Participants then, shared their experience and opinions regarding youth and youth culture, church and society. This was further enriched by the sharing of best practices in evangelization from a transparochial community (Dylan Reyes- CFC/FFL), religious youth movement (Lea Dasigan – Salesian youth), social worker (Freddie Bernardino – Taytay), and an urban parish (Muling Pagkabuhay Parish community). At the end, the group drafted several recommendations to be presented to national bodies as well as their particular movements and organizations. The day was long but participants went home with one heart and one soul to live the vision following the example of the first Christian community.

Evangelization takes place in obedience to the missionary mandate of Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). In these verses we see how the risen Christ sent his followers to preach the Gospel in every time and place, so that faith in him might spread to every corner of the earth. (The Church’s Missionary Transformation,Evangelii Gaudium#19)[146]

(March 14-16,2014)

10Bukal ng Tipan and the Youth Ministry of the Vicariate of Sto. Nino, renewed ties through a retreat and mission statement formulation meeting held last March 14-16, 2014. The journey of these two entities began in 2008 through various formation activities involving the youth from its 7 parishes. Since these communities also embraced BEC as its vision, a series of consultation meetings enabled them to come up with a 5-year program developing ministry for the young towards this. Though some steps were undertaken in the next years, the plan had to wait due to change in leadership and priorities. The March meeting was a breakthrough, after both groups decided to review the plan and come up with initial steps to realize it. The meeting began with prayer and reflection on the story of Transfiguration. After this, the group worked to finalize their mission statement. Ideas and suggestion were smoothly shared, deliberated on and accepted by one another resulting in a consensus mission statement drafted by the youth leaders, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  1. The Gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy. The seventy-two disciples felt it as they returned from their mission (cf. Lk 10:17). Jesus felt it when he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and praised the Father for revealing himself to the poor and the little ones (cf. Lk 10:21). It was felt by the first converts who marvelled to hear the apostles preaching “in the native language of each” (Acts 2:6) on the day of Pentecost. This joy is a sign that the Gospel has been proclaimed and is bearing fruit. Yet the drive to go forth and give, to go out from ourselves, to keep pressing forward in our sowing of the good seed, remains ever present. The Lord says: “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mk 1:38). Once the seed has been sown in one place, Jesus does not stay behind to explain things or to perform more signs; the Spirit moves him to go forth to other towns.

May 11, 2014

11A strong faith in Christ coupled with a visible community life that reaches out to others as well make a parish witness to the Joy of the Gospel. Such was the experience during the whole day recollection-planning of the Parish Pastoral Council and BEC Leaders of Padre Pio Parish, Beckel headed by Fr. Joseph Pumihic, CICM. The 45 participants reflected on the “Cup of Life” as the theme of their morning recollection facilitated by Andrew Velasquez of Bukal ng Tipan. The reflections centered on their lives as Christ’s disciples committed to serve their parish, as well as strengthening their community way of life as they’ve related it with their various insights on the different movements of a cup. Such were gained through their personal sharing and participation in the creative liturgies. On the second half of the day, the group underwent the what and how planning process for their annual parish fiesta. Inspired by the morning reflection, they came up with objectives as well as activities oriented towards encouraging maximum participation of the parishioners as they celebrate the life of their patron saint, Padre Pio. Indeed, it is a move of planting what is essentiaI in the hearts of people, offering to God the fruits of their labor.

Updates (June to July 2014)


This year`s Bukal team`s (Fr. Mark, Estela and Aleli) trip to Germany came in the wake of Germany`s championing the FIFA 2014 competitions. Such high energy carried us through the gruelling but enjoyable 3-week program with our German partners and saw us engaging with new diocesan partners in Germany.

JULY 17-20

12We arrived in Berlin two days after the Germany champion football team arrived and celebrated their victory. The signs and spirit of celebration can still be seen and felt in Berlin! We were invited for exposure to the church and context of Berlin to prepare us for the Berlin group (mostly priests) who are coming to Bukal in November. We also had a chance to learn a bit about the dark time of German history during the Second World Wars.

JULY 22-25

13Diocesan and parish pastoral workers from the Diocese of Limburg have participated in several Bukal orientation to a Participatory Church and Local Church Development the past years. So when we facilitated our first summer course there, we really had a good team who had become our partners and friends. The 50 participants from 7 parish teams went through an edifying experience of dreaming of, as well as learning small steps, to build up a new name for their church.


14Dieter Tewes, who has led a lot of German teams to Bukal, plus a few others who have been to Bukal and has also attended the summer courses we facilitated in Germany made up our partner team as we facilitated a day of prayer and workshop for 6 parish teams (parish priest and their pastoral workers) who are starting their own processes of renewing their local churches. The inspiring teamwork of priests and lay shows they are definitely on their way to renewal!
JULY 28-29

15Last May, as we have reported, we have facilitated the team building and visioning process of the Diocesan Formation of the Diocese of Hildesheim whom we have worked with the past 3 years. In these two days, we facilitated a spiritual experience as they clarified their vision and mission, as well as framework for accompanying the deaneries on their way to local church renewal. The days together with this diocesan team continue to firm up our relationship and partnership in this ministry.


22This is Bukal`s third year of facilitating summer courses in Hildesheim Diocese and again we had a full house with about 100 participants from about 4 dioceses, with the addition of the pastoral team of the Archdiocese of Vienna. We facilitated a course on `Participatory Approaches to Local Church Development` where we deepened the concept of maximum participation and shared tools on participatory consultation and planning processes.

The second summer course was `Designing and Facilitating Creative Liturgies for Communities\Small Groups` using four of the eight designing liturgy tools Bukal has designed. Following these tools, the community liturgies designed by the participants were both inspiring and rooted in their own cultures and contexts.


Before we left for the Philippines, we made initial plans for developing partnerships with some new dioceses, especially Osnabruck, Paderborn, and Limburg and also accepted the new groups/dioceses interested in coming to Bukal, including the Diocese of Ehfurt, Hamburg, and Vienna, among others.

by Estela Padilla, PhD

“The Gospel ever new! The Gospel always shared!” – Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium (# 2)
Global Video Conference

I participated in a global video conference on BECs with speakers representing Africa, Latin America, Asia (which I represented), Europe, Oceania, North America last Feb. 12. It was a 3-hour live, online, virtual, interactive International SCCs Webinar (Web Conference) on “Small Christian Communities: The Church on the Move around the World” using Cisco WebEx Meetings technology.  It was coordinated by the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, USA. It was the first time i participated in such a conference where i (and everyone else across the globe) am seated in my office and seeing and speaking and being listened to in different parts of the world.
Each speaker was given 15 minutes to talk about 3 successes, 3 difficulties and future plans of SCCs in their respective regions; then there was a speaker – Apple Scotsby – who did a historical-social analysis of SCCs since Vatican II; then there was gospel-sharing (!) and final greetings.
The common activity of BECs all over the world is gospel-sharing, proclaiming and living the Word of God in different parts, cultures, contexts of the world. Although facing challenges inside (lack of attendance/participation of men and youth, lack of support from institutional church, continuous formation of leaders, sustaining systems of BECs, among others ) and outside church life (political constraints, relevance to young people, social awareness and action), BECs continue to thrive as they live out the joy and the call of the Gospel in solidarity with neighbors, especially among the poor and marginalized.

Intercontinental BEC Studies: Africa, Latin America, Asia
I am doing postdoctoral research on `BECs in Africa, Latin America and Asia and their Reception of Vatican II` as well as `Church in the (Post)Modern World: Revisiting Gaudium et Spes in the Light of Increasing Interest in BECs in some European Dioceses/Parishes`. I have chosen a representative country per region – Brazil for Latin America, Congo for Africa, India for Asia and Germany for Europe. I ask the same survey questions for 50 BEC leaders/members per region, as well as the same survey questions for 5-10 theologians of the 3 regions. Last January 3-16, I did the Latin American portion of my study and attended the Brazil National CEB Conference in Juazeiro do Norte. Last June 13-22, I was in Kinshasa, Congo for the African portion of the study. The Asian portion (India) research will be done in September. Having gathered data already for two regions, I am receiving a lot of learnings and being affirmed that BECs in whatever part of the globe has created and is creating a culture of community/faith community that is transforming church life and mission. The other paper, on Postmodern BECs will have Germany and Zurich as respondents and will be done first half of next year.

Germany and Zurich
Germans in the Philippines. This year, 3 German groups are coming to Bukal. The first group was a Trainors` group from Hildesheim Diocese with a parish team from Zurich. This group has been with Bukal for the past 4 years and are the ones who partner with Bukal when we go to Germany for the summer courses. We welcomed them in Maryshore from February 20-March 6 for a deepening course as well as some teambuilding processes. It was a beautiful time of learning together as well as deepening our relationships with one another. One of the `joys of (proclaiming) the gospel we have discovered in Bukal is to have friends, not just coworkers, in this ministry. And with this partner team, we experienced the joy of a shared life as well as a shared dream for renewing the church in Germany and Zurich.
From March 20-April 3, we welcomed the 8th batch of German pastoral workers numbering 22 people from 5 dioceses who go through our Orientation and Exposure to BECs and Local Church Development held in Bukal ng Tipan-Maryhill. The last German group to come for this same orientation course will be 12 priests, coming from the Archdiocese of Berlin, in November.
Filipinos (Bukal) in Germany. Fr. Mark, Aleli and I facilitated two seminars and took part in one meeting in Germany this May 13 till 31. The first was a seminar we facilitated for 13 deanery teams from the Diocese of Hildesheim, followed by a seminar for the Diocesan Formation Team of the same diocese who are tasked to follow up the deanery teams. Bukal team was also imvited by Missio-Munich to present our program to their regular and prospective donors. All the above engagements were appreciated deeply by the Germans. We have always felt that it is an honor and a privilege to serve the German dioceses. We at Bukal team feel extremely challenged with processes, tools and methods that we think they will find relevant and effective for their context. And one thing they appreciate in Bukal programs is how spirituality is integrated in whatever skill, tool or process we employ. Such an evaluation affirms Bukal working principle that we are disciples first and professional pastoral workers second. We believe that we are not just called to be effective pastoral workers but to be faithful disciples/discipleship community. We are coming back in July-August for summer courses in the dioceses of Limburg and Hildesheim and exposure to the church and culture of Berlin Archdiocese to prepare for the Berlin group coming in November.

Sri Lanka
Last February 3-8, Fr. Mark, Jojit and myself went to Sri Lanka for a course with pastoral ministers bishop, religious, clergy and lay for a renewal course on participatory church. Sri Lanka has been in this journey towards a `new way of being church` through BECs the past decade or so.
Asian Theologians in Denpassar, Indonesia
Last May 5-11, I (representing Filipino theologians) took part in the annual meeting of Asian theologian-members of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences where we are finalizing our theological paper on ecology. Ecological concern and action will be a most important part of church life and mission in Asian churches in the next years


17Bukal ng Tipan team (Fr. Mark Lesage and Estela Padilla) went on a BEC exposure trip to Yolanda-devastated BECs with two Germans – Mr. Dieter Tewes, who is the national coordinator in Germany of their Local Church Development/BEC efforts and Ms. Vera Krause, who heads the Mission Department of the Archdiocese of Berlin – from April 4-21. When Yolanda happened, BECs in dioceses that Bukal knows and have given training to in Leyte, Northern Iloilo and San Carlos, have asked for financial and moral support. Bukal then decided to contact friends from the Philippines and abroad (especially Belgium and Germany) who in turn gave generously amounting to P8-9 million pesos. The trip was made to see what happened to the financial help and what happened to the BECs after Yolanda.
18The fund was definitely put to good use building houses and boats helping people rebuild their lives individually and communally. We saw the difference between devastated communities who are already BECs and those who are not/not yet BECs. In BECs, rebuilding efforts were done in record-time in a lively spirit of faith, community and solidarity.
Yolanda brought out the leadership character of the BEC leaders and members as they suffered through and rebuild themselves after the disaster (for example, please read the amazing community rebuilding efforts of Isla Naborot in Northern Iloilo on http://www.rebuildproject. org.ph). In one island community, where no one died, but all houses and boats destroyed, people manifested their dignity as they asked help not for their houses but for their boats, because they said, once they start eating and earning, they will rebuild their houses themselves. Moreover, they paid back a portion of whatever money they received for the boats and with this amount, started setting up income-generating projects.
19They also deepened their relationship with God as they went back to their regular BEC prayer meetings and their relationship with one another got even more strengthened. Some memorable quotes from people: “It taught us a most important lesson of Yolanda that nothing is impossible if we help and live in solidarity with one another. Yolanda brought back the life in our BECs as we went back to God through our weekly prayer meeting.”
20“We rediscovered our being a community and what it means to us…amidst the deprivation, when we had limited food and that we depended on charities of others, some of us who have been enemies for the longest time, shared food in the same plate…it was so moving.” Miracles of generosity and solidarity are the daily food in these communities. Two priests from two different provinces also mentioned how Sunday Mass collection has actually increased after Yolanda, not because people have more money (actually people have less) but people have become more generous. Perhaps the generosity received from so many people in the Philippines and abroad have bred generosity also.
21It was also very edifying to observe that social awareness and action, especially on environmental issues and concerns, are being strengthened in these BECs/communities. Bukal BEC unit has decided to redirect and revise its BEC-organizing approaches to include the lessons learned from these Yolanda-devastated BECs/communities.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s