Picture
Background is the Sub-parish of Sta. Ana.
The Augustinian missionary presence in Burgos is embodied in the persons of Rev. Fr. Benjamin Unabia, OSA (Parish Priest/Prior) and Rev. Fr. Leonard Realiza, OSA (Asst. Parish Priest). These two friars cater to the various needs of the Catholic faithful. There’s a consciousness among the people of Burgos that their faith is an inseparable part of their lives. The people love their parish and recognize it as a community where they can nurture their faith. On their own initiative, they support the parish and the Augustinian community in whatever way they can. Most notable in the people is their generosity. Previous experience with the diocesan clergy has instilled in the people the value of taking care of their parish. The people contribute food, provide financial assistance for parish projects and offer voluntary labor during special celebrations. 

Life in the BEC 
There is full, conscious and active participation of the Catholic faithful. On the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) level in the various barangays, a lot of issues and concerns have to be considered and resolved. Our arrival in Burgos, together with my two companions sparked the revival of the BEC’s in the barangays for it was the first time that seminarians were assigned there for summer exposure. The experience was new to the people for, unlike the diocesan seminarians, we stayed for longer periods in the barangays for our immersion. BEC was actively practiced before in thebarangays but, due to unavoidable circumstances, the activities stopped and were never revived. A number of reasons contributed to the stagnation of the BEC’s: First is political unrest and division. Politics is deeply rooted in the lives of the people. The previous election created divisions and factions among the BEC members and even among families. Second is internal problems and division in the BEC. Servant leaders and members become cold, indifferent, not interested and stop attending BEC activities. Sometimes financial matters destroy the BEC especially when the BEC common fund is used without permission. Third is the priority of work and the advent of technology. Making a living takes priority over any other activity and the people spend a lot of time in the farm. In most cases, some members are too tired to attend BEC activities and opt to have their rest instead. Attendees during BEC activities are mostly wives and their husbands can seldom be seen. Those who attend are usually the catechists and lay ministers of the parish. With the proliferation of satellite televisions, teleseryes compete with BEC schedule which is usually set in the evening.

            Our presence as Augustinians is a big help to the Church of Burgos because of the service we render to the people. We let the faithful feel that they are part of the Church, the Body of Christ. In serving the parish, the faithful recognize that they are not neglected but considered themselves part of the whole Christian family. Since the Augustinian presence in Burgos is an ad experimentum missionary venture for two years, the friars are still adjusting to the situation in the parish. The collaboration between the Catholic faithful and Augustinians is very noticeable and this healthy relationship promotes the growth and development of the parish as a whole.

BEC in the Missionary perspective
            Missionary work indeed is not an easy task. As we experience in Burgos, missionary works require a lot of patience, preparation and dedication. Many Catholics have the mind-set that mission is just for priests and nuns or for a chosen few. But by virtue of our baptism and being Christ’s disciples we are called to mission as Jesus said to his disciples, “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.” (Mat 28: 18-20, NAB)
            As baptized Christians, we therefore have the responsibility to spread the Good News of salvation to all. “The call to discipleship is a vocation to communion and mission. All are called to a union of love with God and with one another. All are also called to mission. In other words, all—without exception—are called to evangelize” (PCP II, 402). In Burgos, since the parish cannot provide for all the spiritual needs of the Catholic faithful due to some inevitable circumstances, the lay faithful are empowered to heed the missionary call of Christ. They need not go to far-flung barrios to spread the Word of God. They can start in their own localities. “Their baptismal consecration immerses them as Christ’s disciples in the world. It is in the world that they are called by God” (PCP II, 406).
            In Burgos, the BEC is a great help in promoting renewal and communion among families that reside far from the parish and are only visited by the parish priest a few times in a month. The activities that the BEC’s promote, facilitate and favor the growth of the faith and Christian life of the families. “It is in the world that they are to grow in holiness. It is there especially—in the family, work and recreation, in the vast fields of economics, politics and culture—that they are to evangelize others.” (PCP II, 406)
            BEC also promotes the cultivation of Christian life in the family. As the basic unit of the society, Christian family is called as “Church in miniature” (ecclesia domestica).” (Perfectae Caritatis, 49) The family that makes up the BEC is the material source of the faithful in their sharing of faith experiences. They reflect on the Word of God and try to see its relevance in their family life. “Called to reach out to its neighbourhood and beyond, the family becomes a true foundation for Basic Ecclesial Communities.” (PCP II, 421) Evangelization and growth in the faith and spiritual life happens in the BEC because the people share their experiences with their other members in the cluster or cell. This is a picture of community life marked with sharing of insights and inspirations. The very content of faith sharing in BEC’s is their daily life. “In the struggles and joys of their day to day living, in the realities and activities of the people, the laity provide the world with a variety of ways of living and sharing our faith. Through them and their situations, the Church finds and fulfills her mission in the world.” (Plenary Council of the Philippines II, 425)

BEC: Building communities in the Augustinian Spirit
            Augustinians are missionaries, the servants of the Church. We can never separate the idea of mission from “being Augustinians.” In fact, Augustinians were the first missionaries to the Philippines. “In the evangelizing and liberating mission of the Church in the Philippines, consecrated men and women, more generally known as “Religious,” are playing an indispensable role.” (PCP II, 448) As religious we are called to become witnesses and respond to the needs of the Church. Our presence in Burgos is a sign of our witnessing to the Gospel and response to the missionary call of the Church. “Religious, for their part, find in their consecrated life a privileged means of effective evangelization. They embody the Church in her desire to give herself completely to the radical demands of the beatitudes. By their lives they are a sign of total availability to God, the Church and the brethren.” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 46)

            Augustinians bring the message of communion.and promote community building. Our witnessing to the religious vows and our common life provide a striking example for others. “Our community life should offer the world a real example of authentically human and sincere brotherhood, which mirrors the love of God to all peoples, without distinction.” (Ratio Institutionis 1993, 110) The fraternity we live out in cooperation with one another serves as an inspiration to the community outside our own. Our life radiates to others the charism we practice. “As Augustinians we should always cultivate a sense of community and teamwork in every pastoral effort” (RI 1993, 110a) since missionary work is not possible if we are to act on our own. We need the help of the various sectors of the Church in order to make our mission relevant. With this, “we also need to open ourselves more to cooperation with the local church, seeing ourselves as partners in mission with the laity.” (RI 1993, 111) “We must listen to others, especially to the laity and experts, encouraging their cooperation and their apostolic organizations, so that we may work together as friends and brothers for the building up of the Reign of God.” (RI 1993, 110c) The assistance provided by the laity to our missionary ventures makes our work much more bearable. Their talents and capacities complement the skills that sometimes we religious lack. Thus, it is just to acknowledge the special role the laity plays in our mission. There are instances that the faithful have concerns about revised policies and regulations. The laity can help in letting the faithful understand and in implementing new programs that help in the growth of Christian communities. Moreover, flexibility and adaptation is important in missionary work. We must be able to adjust to the variety and differences in culture and perform our mission effectively. “It is indispensable that we respect the diversity of peoples wherever we work. This will make it more possible for us to appreciate their religious and cultural heritage and engage in dialogue with them.” (RI 1993, 112). robert lee lingo, osa.

 


Comments




Leave a Reply

    About this page

    This is a collection of the reflections of friars from their prayers and studies in Theology and as well as their life an Augustinian.


    Archives

    July 2012


    Archives

    July 2012