2016 1st Quarter: News Report


Diocese_of_Butuan_Seal“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4).  Inspiration was drawn from this reading when Bukal facilitated the evaluation and planning of the DPACT (Diocesan Pastoral Assembly Coordinating Team)  last Feb 8-9.  The Diocese of Butuan is celebrating its Jubilee Year next year and has lined up a three-year preparatory program for its celebration which commenced last 2015.  Initial planning with the different commission heads was facilitated by Bukal then.  Last February, focusing specifically on the GKK/BEC program, a review and evaluation of the plan was done, celebrating the “catch” that were experienced the past months but at the same time looking also at the reasons why there were still many that have not been caught.  Resolutions were planned to address such, with Bukal offering its assistance in whatever way possible.  This planning is also intended not only for the Jubilee celebration but also for the celebration of the Communion of Communities next year.




jaro new coat of arms

The journeying partnership of Bukal ng Tipan with the Archdiocese of Jaro has already been for a couple of years.  An enriching collaboration between the JAPS (Jaro Archdiocesan Pastoral Secretariat) and Bukal continues to mutually inspire and challenge each other.  The past 2-3 years have seen the growth of the pilot BECs in the communities – environmentally aware, socially motivated and spiritually grounded.

As the communities continue to grow and multiply, the need for further training the BEC organizers as well as the AFT (Archdiocesan Formation Team) and PFTs (Parish Formation Teams) is also seen.  Thus, three level-up training seminars are lined up for the first two quarters of this year:  (W)holistic Formation II this February,  Setting Up Ministries in BECs in May and BEC Organizing II come July.




The Bukal ng Tipan Team met with a team from the Archdiocese of Caceres last February 15 for an exploratory meeting, discussing the possibility of the former journeying with the latter.  They expressed their desire to be assisted in the formation of BECs in their archdiocese.  Following the journeying program framework of Bukal where the first step is to LOOK TOGETHER, initial talks transpired.  In line as well with this step, an immersion activity is scheduled this coming March 4-7 in the archdiocese.


Diocese of Gumaca


The role of Bukal ng Tipan has evolved in the diocese of Gumaca from trainors to consultants (coach).  Bukal ng Tipan have extensively trained their diocesan formation team so that they can pass on the skills to others without much supervision from us.  We have limited our meetings with them to at least twice a year consultation meeting.  In these meetings, the pastoral team shares their programs and activities and how bukal can still contribute to these in terms of skills and trainings.  They are also on their third year of implementing their diocesan pastoral priority which is “living-out the word of God”.  This priority is one of the elements of their diocesan vision-mission.  It was in this diocese that the first inter-commission planning was initiated by Bukal.  This is quite barrier-breaking since it is not usually done.  The result is an integrated pastoral plan wherein all commissions will have a role in implementing the diocesan pastoral priority.  Every year bukal facilitates the evaluation and adjustment of this pastoral plan.  The diocese is on their third year of implementation.  In 2017, they may choose to retain the pastoral priority or choose another based on their particular context.

Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan


In 2015, we started the training programs for the Docese of Lingayen-Dagupan headed by Achbishop Socrates Villegas.  Though BEC is not yet widely embraced by the archdiocese, some parishes with BECs And have remained liturgical in nature.  An initial retraining of their organizers was given by the Bukal  Ng Tipan team.  They are on the process of looking for an Archdiocesan formation team (AFT) since this is really one of the main thrusts of Bukal ng Tipan – a local team is extensively trained and it is them who will pass on the skills and technology in their archdiocese.  This is because they speak the language and they are trained also how to contextualized these skills and tools.

Archdiocese of Jaro

12670190_10153318549941669_890650479329585790_nTyphoon Yolanda became a blessing in disguise to the Archdiocese of Jaro especially in the aspect of BEC.  It was observed that areas with organized BECs affected by the typhoon were able to recover much faster than those areas that have none.  The effect of this is a renewed interest on BECs not only by the Archdiocese but also of other government and non-government organizations who are tasked in rebuilding areas affected by the infamous typhoon.  Bukal with the help of the Archdiocesan Formation Team (AFT) developed a new organizing process taking into account the learnings of Yolanda rebuilding.  New tools in immersion were also developed integrating the tools used by non-government organizations which were deemed helpful in this process.  New formations sessions were developed focusing on environmental awareness and church-government collaboration.  All in all, there is a resurgence of interest for BECs in the archdiocese.

Diocese of San Carlos

san carlos

The Diocese of San Carlos thru Bishop Gerardo Alminaza sought the assistance of Bukal ng Tipan in revisiting their 27-year old vision statement.  Bishop Gerry as he is fondly called was the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Jaro before he became bishop of the diocese of San Carlos.  It is here that he got to work with Bukal and saw its positive effects on the Archdiocese.  A participatory visioning process was presented to the leaders of the diocese including the priests and everyone unanimously agreed that it is time to do this revisiting.  The diocese is now on its second phase in their participatory visioning process which is the house to house consultation.  The last training that was held, they were able to gather more than 400 adults and youth facilitators.  And based on their stories from the implementation of the 1st phase which is a spiritual experience for all leaders and groups in the diocese, they were all enthusiastic about the overwhelming positive response of those who attended and they say they are very excited on the next activities and programs.  They hope to re-articulate their vision statement by the first quarter of 2016.

Diocese of Butuan

In terms of role, Bukal has been a coach to the existing diocesan formation team (DFT).  They already have the capacity to re-echo some of our courses in the diocese with continuous evaluation and monitoring from Bukal to ensure the integrity of such skills courses.  Regular meetings of at least twice a year are held between Bukal and the DFT.  Bukal also helps in evaluating some of their designed formation sessions as well as continuous trainings and re-tooling of pastoral skills of their DFT.  We also helped the diocese to design a 3-year jubilee program.  In 2016, they expressed the need to revisit this plan as well as to assess their BEC efforts of course with the guidance of Bukal ng Tipan.

Archdiocese of Cotabato

diocese of cotabato

The archdiocese of Cotabato is another example of a archdiocese who have received many trainings and formation programs from Bukal and the result of this is the creation of their Archdiocesan Formation Team (AFT).  The AFT is the one replicating the organizing course of Bukal ng Tipan as several parishes have expressed the need for revitalizing their BEC thrust.  Thru constant communication, we have remained in contact with the Pastoral head of the archdiocese.  Next year, 2016 is the 10th year of their Archdiocesan Pastoral Assembly (APA) which was also facilitated by Bukal.  They are asking bukal to facilitate the planning for this APA and the design of the preparatory sessions for this.


Diocese of Digos

diocese of digos

One of the new partners of Bukal that arose in 2015 is the Diocese of Digos.  Digos, the capital of Davao del Sur, is also the seat of the Diocese of Digos which was once part of the Archdiocese of Davao.  The diocese was created on November 8, 1979 by Pope John Paul II, and its first bishop, the Most Reverend Generoso Camiña, PME, was formally installed on February 11, 1980.  Its titular patron is San Isidro, Labrador while Mary Mediatrix of all Graces is the patroness of its cathedral.  The diocese is a suffragan of the Archdiocse of Davao.

The Diocese of Digos comprises the civil province of Davao del Sur, one of the three Davao provinces existing today.  The province lays west of the Davao Gulf, north of the Celebes Sea, east of the Cotabato provinces and south of its sister province, Davao del Norte.  It covers a land area of 3, 939 square kilometers that holds a population of 800,592, of which 71 per cent are Catholics.  It has jurisdiction over 16 parishes served by 35 diocesan priests.  Among its Catholic institutions are 2 colleges, 14 high schools, 4 elementary schools, and 7 kindergarten schools.  The diocese has 993 Basic Ecclesial Communities and mission stations.

In 2015, Bukal facilitated their strategic planning and has given 2 skills training courses which included designing participative formation sessions and designing creative liturgies for BECs and small groups.  They have already expressed to avail of our other skills training courses for 2016.

Archdiocese of Tuguegarao

St_Peter_and_Paul_Cathedral tuguegarao

located at the northernmost part of the island of Luzon is the archdiocese of Tuguegarao.  The archdiocese is composed of 48 parishes and more than 1,400,000 Catholics spread over a land area of 9, 296 sq. km.   Last September 7-11, the diocese invited the team of Bukal ng Tipan to give their annual clergy retreat.  Attended by more than 50 priests including their bishop, Abp. Sergio Utleg it turned out to be a wonderful experience with the team garnering very positive evaluation from them.  With the theme Clergy Leadership in a Participatory Church, the retreat revolved around the role of the ordained minister in this vision of a Participatory Church.  They have already invited Bukal to assist them in their BEC program.  And coming this November, a team from Bukal will undergo an immersion experience in the archdiocese.

Archdiocese of Manila


The Archdiocese of Manila thru the instructions of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle sought the assistance of Bukal ng Tipan in creating a unified formation program for the archdiocese focusing of what is endemic and unique in their context.  Several meetings were held with their formation team headed by Auxiliary Bishop Roderick Pabillo, sdb.  Bukal proposed a process of consultation as to determine the content of the formation program.  A series of trainings were set for 2016.

The Archdiocese of Manila covers a land area measuring 946 square kilometers and is made up of the eight cities of Manila, Caloocan, Pasay, Quezon, Mandaluyong, Makati, Muntinlupa and Pasig.  Total population in 1994 was estimated at 8,108,056, with the Catholic population placing at 90.8 per cent. Non-Catholic Christians constitute 8 per cent, while non-Christians make up 1.1 per cent. The population of the archdiocese is a mixture of various ethnic groups coming from the various regions of the country, by the Tagalogs constitutes the majority which makes up 75 % of the population.

The Archdiocese follows the age-old system of parochial and vicarial division in its internal organization. The parish remains as the smallest organizational unit. The parish remains as the smallest organizational unity. Parishes are grouped by vicariates and these by ecclesiastical districts. There are 6 such ecclesiastical districts, 38 vicariates and 243 parishes. Of the 243 parishes, 237 are territorial, 3 are personal, and 2 are personal-territorial. 175 are under the administration of the diocesan clergy while 68 are under the religious. There are 299 priests in the diocesan clergy serving the Archdiocese of Manila. There are 55 religious institutes for men and 130 for women. Catholic schools include 4 universities and 132 elementary schools, high schools and colleges. Among other institutions are 6 Catholic hospitals, 13 dispensaries, 2 seminaries and 14 catechetical centers.

Diocese of Malaybalay

IMG_1785 malaybalay 2

The Diocese of Malaybalay today comprises the civil province of Bukidnon and the municipality of Wa-o in Lanao del Sur. It covers a land area of 8,294 square kilometers and a population of almost one million, 80 per cent of which are Catholics. Its titular patron is San Isidro Labrador. It is a suffragan of Cagayan de Oro.  The diocese has 39 parishes and mission stations grouped together into 7 deaneries. Serving the diocese are 43 diocesan priests (7 presently exercising their ministry outside the ecclesiastical province), 7 Jesuits, 2 diocesan missionaries, and 87 religious sisters from 11 congregations.  Pastoral plans and activities are regularly presented, discussed, deliberated upon and finalized during the regular annual general pastoral assembly. The Church in Malaybalay today is characterized by a strong collegial hierarchy and active lay participation by the faithful, geared toward the formation of small ecclesial communities.

IMG_1787 malaybalay 1

Bukal ng Tipan was contacted by the diocese thru their BEC pastoral coordinator to assist them in their BEC program.  They seem to be on a standstill with regard to this pastoral priority.  Bukal visited the diocese to have an immersion experience in their BECs.  We were able to attend a BEC meeting as well as a parish BEC organizers meeting.  In 2016, Bukal was requested to facilitate their BEC congress and we saw this as an opportune time to have a general view of the situation of their BECs.  The present BEC desk Chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is Bishop Jose Cabantan which is incidentally the sitting bishop of the diocese.

Regional and National Assemblies

In several instances throughout 2015, Bukal was asked to facilitate or be part of the program team of several regional and national assemblies.  One of these is the Southern Tagalog Regional BEC assembly.  It is composed of the Diocese of Gumaca, Diocese of San Pablo, Diocese of Lucena, Prelature of Infanta, Archdiocese of Lipa, Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan, Diocese of Boac and the diocese of Taytay, Palawan.  Except for Calapan, all other dioceses were present.  An evaluation was made as to the status of their BECs as well as future plans and collaborations were set during this gathering.

One of the bigger national gatherings that Bukal became a part of is the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE). Spearheaded by the Archdiocese of Manila thru Cardinal Tagle, this event was attended by more than 4,000 participants from all over the country.  Estela Padilla sat as one of the program team and Jojit Guevarra coordinating the pool of more than 100 facilitators of the said event.

At the tail end of the year, the CBCP-BEC National Assembly was held in Manila.  Attended by representatives from 76 ecclesial territories out of the 88, this was the biggest gathering of a national BEC assembly to date.  The last day was a show of force and support for BECs at the Cuneta astrodome in Pasay City which was attended by more than 10,000 people.



Bukal team experienced the joy of ‘becoming a missionary community of disciples’ (EG 24) this year as it continues to minister and journey with dioceses in Asian and European settings. In Asia, Estela facilitated, together with the FABC-BEC team, the seventh Asian BEC Assembly participated by 118 bishops, priests, religious and lay  from 15 countries with the topic on “BECs/SCCs Living with People of Other Faiths and Beliefs” held in Bangkok from 22-28 October 2015. Estela, a member of the FABC Theological Commission, also gave a talk on and facilitated the liturgies for the fifth Bishops’ Institute for Theological Animation held in Bangkok in May 2015 with the topic of ‘“Give me a drink” (Jn.4:4-40): Pastoral Approaches to New Evangelization in Asia’. It was participated by 60 bishops and priests from 7 Asian countries. Estela is the only woman and only lay theologian in this group.

Our ministry to and partnering with German and German-speaking dioceses also saw a lot of growth in 2015. Last year, our fourth year of working with German dioceses,  we gave summer courses to four dioceses – Hildesheim, Osnabruck, Padeborn and Limburg. We started with one diocese – Hildesheim four years ago. Last year also, we started giving orientation courses to some parishes in Zurich and a summer course this year. We also visited Vienna for an immersion trip so that we get to know their church processes as we prepare for partnering with them this year – they will attend the Bukal orientation courses on participatory church and we will also facilitate our first summer course in June this year.

As we grow in pastoral wisdom and experiences with our international partners, Joy is finishing her Masters Degree in Theology at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. We are really hoping that she pursues a Doctorate Degree on Intercultural Studies. Bukal is looking forward to more enriching ministries and partnerships in international settings.