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Friday, September 4, 2009

Diocesan BEC Seminar

Participants with Bishop Julius

Sandakan : Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom graced the 3 day Diocesan Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) Seminar on 29th August 2009 at the St Mary’s Cathedral Parish Hall. The Seminar was well attended by 235 participants from all the four parishes together with the religious and all priests.

The Seminar was mooted by the then Diocesan Pastoral Working Group in line with establishing BEC as the pastoral thrust of the diocese. Preparation work began as early as February 2009 with Fr Thomas Makajil, the rector of St Mary’s Cathedral as Chairman of the Organizing Committee.
Bishop Julius in his keynote address stressed on the new approach to develop a ‘participative Church’ through Small Christian Communities. Much effort was taken to organize the seminar, aiming to train leaders to be committed in the development of BECs in the various parishes. He felt strongly that it is in BECs, the real presence of the Risen Christ can be seen and expressed in the true light of love. It is a place where Christians can work together for a better world rather than be individualistic and selfish.

Fr Thomas in his welcoming speech
Fr Thomas Makajil, in his welcoming speech extended his appreciation to the panel of speakers in the persons of Fr Dr Charles Chiew, John Lainsin and Gideon Mositoh who had responded to facilitate the Seminar. The overwhelming response from all the parishes is a sign that the faithful is taking up the challenge posed by our Bishop to make BECs the pastoral thrust of the diocese.

Bishop Julius together with Gideon and Lawrence the facilitators for reality games
Fr Dr Charles Chiew

John Lainsin ~ the main speaker

A total of 10 sessions were presented during the 3 day seminar which covers the following topics;

• Roles and involvement of lay faithful in the life and mission of the Church
• Church documents on participation of lay faithful
• Vision on ‘a new way of being Church’
• Concept and the need of a Community
• The pastoral thrust of the Diocese
• Focal point of Parish activities
• Leadership in ‘a new way of being Church’
• How to begin BECs
• Sustaining BECs
• Spirituality in BECs

Group discussion - Holy Trinity Tawau

Group discussion - Holy Trinity Tawau

Group discussion - St Dominic Lahad Datu

Group discussion - St Dominic Lahad Datu

Group discussion - St Martin Telupid

Group discussion - St Mary Sandakan

The Reality Game facilitated by Gideon

Sr Liza, Sr Lilianna & Sr Appolonia in an action song

In between the sessions there were group dynamics and reality games involving all participants. Representatives from Parishes shared their experiences on the processes, strength and weaknesses of BECs.

Msgr Nicholas Ong in his sharing said, ‘I love BECs. I try to visit and cover as many BECs as possible. I hope to see BECs in Tawau grow and flourish. My dream is to make BECs into BHCs (Basic Human Communities) where everyone regardless of race or religion in the neighborhood can participate'.

It is through BECs that priests have the opportunity to visit homes of Catholic families and mix with the laity at grass root level. As we progress, we often need to stop and look at how things are going. There is always room for improvement and growth. We need to evaluate from time to time and detect weak areas and then find ways to improve.

The Eucharist Celebration concelebrated by Bishop and all priests

There was a ‘surprise’ event for all priests on 30th August 2009 after the Eucharistic Celebration, in conjunction with the ‘Year of the Priest' which was launched the day before with a slide presentation on ‘A tribute to our Bishop and Priests’. This was followed by a cake cutting ceremony. Each priest was then presented with an exclusive mug with their name imprinted.

Fr Thomas Makajil in his winding up speech

Fr Thomas Makajil in winding up the event hoped that whatever acquired should not be confined within the four walls of the Parish Hall. It is time that with the knowledge, skill and coupled with the right attitude, BECs would be an in thing of the diocese in the near future.

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