Updates (June to July 2014)

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

We 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

Diocesan 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.


Dieter 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

Last 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.


This 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 Dr. 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


Bukal 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.

The 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.

They 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.”
“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.

It 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.

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