KUALA LUMPUR: The focus of the Parish Pastoral Assembly (PPA) in the KL Archdiocese is on Basic Ecclesial Community, towards conversion, communion and mission. Good Shepherd Church had its PPA on December 17. It was attended by more than 100 people comprising the core team members of the various ministries in the parish and BECs. Parish priest, Fr VA Michael, started with an opening prayer and welcomed all present and thanked them for making an effort to participate in the PPA despite their busy preparation for Christmas.
Fr Clarence Devadass, director of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Institute, Kuala Lumpur facilitated the session. Fr Clarence elaborated that the PPA is to foster greater involvement of the laity in pastoral planning and decision making. The Church in Peninsular Malaysia has been focused on the building of Christ-centred communities through unity among Bishops, Priests, Religious and laities, formations, dialogue with Christians and non-Christians and integral human development of the poor. Although the building of BECs has been slow, it is definitely growing steadily. In a span of 37 years, 969 BECs have been formed throughout the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur. This could not have been possible without commitment, perseverance and hard work. This means that there are more than 10,000 Catholics who gather once a month to pray, read and share the Word.
The challenges the BECs face today can be eliminated through the conversion of mindset from BEC meeting to BEC gathering and by looking at possibilities instead of problems. BECs are a communion of ourselves with God and others. By participating in BEC gatherings we become a communion of heart and mind (Acts 4:32), a communion of faith (Acts 2:42), a communion of goods and gifts (Acts 2:46) and a communion of the bread (Acts 2:42). A spirituality of communion implies the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God, not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a ‘gift’ for us. The BECs should become a more prophetic community as Pope Francis reminds us that a parish community that stays on the church grounds with active members talking only with active members is a sterile community. The missionary outreach is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community.
Each community is “mature” when it professes faith, celebrates it with joy during the liturgy, lives charity, proclaims the Word of God endlessly, leaves one’s own to take it to the “suburbs,” especially to those who have not yet had the opportunity to know Christ. The strength of our faith, at a personal and community level, can be measured by the ability to communicate it to others, to spread and live it in charity, to witness it to those we meet and share the path of life with us.
Fr Clarence then asked the assembly to form small groups and discuss two questions. The first question was, “How can my BEC / Parish become “missionary” (out-reaching)? Among the suggestions received were ways to change the mindset in reaching out to other communities, getting to know people and their needs through interaction with neighbours, start with more dialogue in the family, do not give up on families who reject, be deeply rooted in prayer, visit neighbours and offer assistance, reach out more often and not only during Lent or Advent, do not neglect the poor and the refugees, open informal teaching centres run by Catholics for non-Catholics, use children to reach out, start with small acts and give testimony, remove boundaries and work with PIHD and adopt families in need.
The second question was, “What ‘conversion’ do I need to make in order to make my BEC / Parish a missionary community?” The feedback received was to participate in BEC activities and BEC animated Masses, be more exemplary and set aside individualistic attitudes, be sincere, read daily the Word of God, be positive and committed, visit the sick and aged, work together humbly and pass on the information that was shared in GSCs PPA to all BEC members.
These suggestions were then passed to the PPC Chairman, Ronald Lee, for further action. Fr Michael then ended the session with a closing prayer and urged all present to work hand in hand with Ronald to realize these suggestions