THE HILLS ARE ALIVE…WITH THE BUKAL TEAM!
Last year during the summer school in Hildesheim the pastoral team of the Diocese of Vienna participated. We were wondering how come they travelled that far just to attend a summer school? Veronica, who is the diocesan pastoral coordinator, shared, “For some years we have heard about the summer course in Hildesheim and how some parishes were renewed, so we came to “see”. The result was :they decided to bring a group composed primarily of the diocesan pastoral department to Bukal ng Tipan, Taytay next year for training and exposure on participatory church development. So knowing that we would be in Germany in July this year, they invited us to visit their Diocese of Vienna to have some exposures meetings with the whole pastoral team in preparation for their visit to Taytay. To visit and do some immersion in a diocese who is intending to journey with us is also the initial step Bukal takes in its journeying process.
In Vienna, we were booked in an old Benedictine convent almost in the center of the city. The next day being Sunday we travelled by train to a parish of “St. Cyril and Method “ at the outskirts of Vienna. It was a modern church which was almost filled up and with mostly young families. We were all surprised to experience such a youthful and participatory celebration with lively music. We told Veronica, the diocesan pastoral coordinator of Vienna, “Not only are the hills alive but the church as well.” To which she answered, “Of course, we are showing you the best.”
We were treated by the parish priest in a typical Vienna restaurant and of course we had to taste their world-renowned “Wiener Snitsel.” It was a wonderful occasion to know more about the church in Vienna. Exchanges were made over lunch which lasted till the afternoon hours. Interesting elements of participation in that parish were noted. It so happened that the president of the parish council came along who has been the president of a funding agency – “The Three Kings Action”. This was for us very interesting since we have a pending request for funding a youth program in the typhoon-devastated areas of Iloilo, pending the endorsement letter of our Provincial.
The next day was a meeting day with the whole pastoral team of the Diocese of Vienna. They were interested to know our history, who we are, what our Vision is, how we train diocesan teams, how Bukal seem to respond to a great need in Germany etc…..
They got excited not only about their visit to Taytay but also how Bukal could journey with their diocese in the future. At the end of a meeting like this we always wonder how the church in the west, who is a post-modern church, seem to find inspiration in our method, our program, our commitment and team work.
The next day we had a few hours free and they offered us “The Sound of Music” trip by bus .
Jojit tried a few melodies but the hills did not respond……snoring was not in their repertoire .
What will remain with us are the beautiful sights with mountains, hills, valleys, wooden chalets with red geraniums, cows and sheep ,and the blue sky which made the picture complete.
The next day we travelled by train to Limburg for another summer school .
The first part of this year’s summer school in Hildesheim started on July 24. This is the 4th year of Bukal ng Tipan teaming up with the pastoral department of Hildesheim in offering summer schools for the different deaneries of Hildesheim as well as different delegates coming from neighboring dioceses. The pastoral and missionary team of Hildesheim, headed by Dr. Christian Hennecke has already undergone Formation 1 and Liturgy 1 training workshops with us in the past summer schools as well as in the trainors’ training last year. So together with this team, Bukal facilitated Formation 2 Course.
It was a pleasure to encounter friends and familiar faces from the past summer schools. Two courses were scheduled for Hildesheim in our last leg of engagements. The first course was a training on Formation II – Designing Awareness-Raising Module. Days before the training proper, we had to adjust the program because we originally planned for a different program. All along, we thought that the first part was Liturgy 2 Training. Only to find out a few days before that that was actually the second part f summer school oand the first one was on Formation. We adjusted the liturgies as well as the talks to accommodate the changes. And we were glad that everything fitted accordingly.
The intention of Part 1 of this year’s summer school was to offer Formation 2 (Formation 1 was given last 2013), expecting that the participants who would attend have already attended Formation 1. However, new participants came who were not at all present last 2013, thus the need to offer Formation 1 again. So for the duration of Summer School Part 1, two courses were actually offered – 24 participants attended Formation 1 (i.e. Designing Awareness-Raising Sessions) while 17 participants attended the Formation 2. The participants came from different teams from various dioceses. Workshops on designing awareness-raising sessions and modules were done perseveringly by the participants. It was indeed tiring but rewarding on their part. They were just so happy with what they’ve produced.
The three-day seminar workshop had for its scriptural framework the gospel reading for Day 1, July 24, (Mt. 13: 18-23 – The explanation of the Parable of the Sower and the Seed). Reflections on the different themes of the gospel text – on the different grounds, on the seeds, on the sower – were developed for the morning as well as the closing liturgies of the day. These liturgies provided a spiritual and reflective grounding experience to the participants.
The inputs were all in plenary. Estela gave inputs on Parables as Participatory Pedagogy, Formation in the Post-Modern context, Kingdom of God as Companionship of Empowerment. All these inputs provided an ample framework to the participants on the formation programs they were designing.
Working with the pastoral and missionary team of Hildesheim was an enriching experience. The co-facilitated with us some liturgies as well as in the evaluation of the designs. Teaming up with this local team was not only an experience of working together but moreover, it was an experience of building community together.
From Walls to Doors: Hildesheim Summer School 2
The second part of the summer school in the diocese of Hildesheim is a liturgy course. Attended by more than 40 participants coming from 8 dioceses, this liturgy course aims to train them in designing liturgies for small parish or diocesan groups. Bukal shared with them 2 tools, one is designing issue-based liturgies and the other is integrating liturgy in a formation event. It was an eye-opener for them because our tools always start with the context of people which is quite new to them. This prompted one priest participant to say that when he goes back to his diocese, the first thing he will do is to throw away all his books on liturgy (hope he is kidding!). Another very exciting moment of this course was when we had a gallery walk of all the liturgies that they have designed. The amount of creativity that was presented was simply amazing and definitely encouraging for Bukal. It just shows that this creativity is already in their hearts and it only needs a simple tool to make it come out.
A very touching element of this course is the liturgies. This time we used the symbol of walls. In the first liturgy, we used the symbol of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem connecting it to liturgy as a tradition. We reflected on the prayer traditions that still exist in Germany and those that have already disappeared. Then using an actual old wall in the seminary, we ask them to write their prayer intention for this course and to insert them in the crevices of the old wall and to touch it and pray just like what they do in Jerusalem. Some participants were so moved by this experience that a few tears were shed. The second liturgy was a reflection on the Berlin Wall and connecting this to the idea that liturgy should be connected to the daily lives of people. We made a small replica of the Berlin wall and the participants were asked to reflect on what are the modern day walls that they see in their society or context. We ask them to write these on the wall replica and we saw answers like; pastoral workers and volunteers, local and migrants, east and west, clergy and lay, etc. As a closing reflection, we asked to what attitude is needed to overcome these walls that we ourselves have contributed in building. And they express this by writing in graffiti style on the makeshift Berlin wall. They were so enthusiastic about it that when you look at them, it seems like that they are actually writing on the real Berlin wall. The last liturgy was focused on the internet or cyberspace wall but this time connecting this to the idea of post-modern liturgies. We have asked them to pin their name tags on a cork board. And using colourful strings we ask them to connect their names with two other names that they feel that they have connected more deeply in the past days of the course. What resulted is a colourful art of interconnecting lines and names which is very close to the idea of connecting with people thru the internet. Then we asked them on what kind of connections are people longing for in their context. As they go back to their local teams, they discussed this question and come out with the kind of liturgy that can respond to this longing. In line with the internet wall, we instructed them to express this in hash tag (#) form. Hash tag is an internet language used in facebook and twitter to indicate a topic that is popularly discussed in these sites. All in all, we can say that once again Bukal was very instrumental in helping the participants realize the importance of liturgies and contextualizing them. In fact, people cannot wait for the next summer school!
BOCHUM INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL CONFERENCE ON BAPTISM AND LEADERSHIP
I (Estela) was invited to be an observer in and also to facilitate a workshop for an international conference in Germany hosted by the University of Ruhr Theology Department and Crossing Over entitled ‘Baptismal Consciousness and Ecclesial Leadership: Impulses from the Global Church’. It was a fully-booked conference, attended by 300 people – organizers said they actually had to turn people out, a rarity in theological conferences. Twenty four of the twenty seven dioceses in Germany were represented, aside from participants from German-speaking countries Switzerland and Austria. The speakers, aside from theologians and pastoral workers from different dioceses in Germany, came from North America, Latin America, Africa and Asia (myself and Director of East Asia Pastoral Institute Jesuit Arthur Leger). The main point of the conference is: participation in church life and mission, especially in leadership responsibilities, of every baptized Catholic as source of renewal of church in German society.
There were three observers of the conference: myself, Drs. Teresa Berger (USA) and Dr. Ulrich Moller (Germany). We were asked to comment at the start, middle and end of the day regarding what we think is lacking/still needs to be discussed in the conferences. My own comments revolve around the area of mission and contextualization: one’s baptismal calling is lived in particular contexts which shape mission which In turn shape church – what it means to be church or to live out our baptismal call in our particular contexts.
In the workshop, I shared about the BECs of Northern Iloilo and how ordinary Christians exercise their faith life (baptismal calling) in neighborhood settings, guided by the Word of God which motivates them to respond to particular life issues that confront them, in this case, the environmental destruction and how to slowly rebuild and care for their environment.
RESEARCH AND MEETINGS IN CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF LOUVAIN, BELGIUM
I (Estela) had several research projects at hand regarding BEC and 50 years of Vatican II. One is about the BECs of Africa, Latin America and Asia in Dialogue with Vatican II; the other one is about Church in the (Post)Modern World: The Search for Community in European Settings. The first one is halfway finished and the second one is just starting. The second one of course wants to study Bukal work in different German-speaking countries so as to make our ministry more effective and responsive.
I was thinking of doing post doctoral studies on the subject at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium first because of the English collection in the their theological library, as well as the possibility of dialogue with some theology professors who have written and taught on postmodern ecclesiologies.
I had 12 very enriching days in Louvain. Had fruitful meetings with Professors Jacques Haers, Matthias Lamberigts, Peter de Mey, as well as Dr. Kristine Justaert of the Center for Liberation Theologies. And yes, there were many good theological books in their library which were not available in the Philippines. We set tentative dates for research as well as dialogues and lectures with different groups – professors, students, parish/diocesan community/leaders in 2016, most probably September –October.
It is encouraging to see their interest in what we are in Germany. Maybe God will also direct us to serve here in Belgium, in CICM origins?