St. James the Greater Parish
was established in July 1990,
located at Cuenca cor. Ibaan St., Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa City.
At present, the parish priest is Mgr. Allen Aganon
and the Parish BEC Lay Coordinators are Benny and Chita Araw.
The Basic Ecclesial Communities in St. James the Greater Parish was introduced with an initial talk on BEC during the term of Mgr. Gerry Santos in 2002. And the BEC districts were put in place by Mgr. Chito Bernardo by putting up grottos in 2004. BEC became well known as “Neighborhood Church” through the leadership of Msgr. Ernesto Joaquin in 2008 and was formally organized after the Diocesan BEC Pastoral Assembly was held and with the given direction and blessing from their Bishop. It was divided geographically into eight (8) BECs, each being led and animated by a BEC Head Coordinator namely:
- BEC 1- Our Lady of Lourdes (feast day in Feb. 11), Narra Park, headed by Alice Bacani with 3 Asst. Coordinators
- BEC 2- Our Lady of Manaog, (feast day in May 3) Basilan covered court, headed by Nitz Cuevas with 5 Asst. Coordinators
- BEC 3- Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (feast day in July 12), Ma. Cristina Park, headed by Mimi Valerio with 7 Asst. Coordinators & 24 Street Coordinators
- BEC 4- Our Lady of Jasna Gora (Aug. 26), Dama de Noche St., headed by Edza Gonzales with 2 Asst. Coordinatots & 7 Street Coordinators
- BEC 5- Our Lady of La Naval (Oct. 7), San Juanico Park, headed by Brenda Padilla with 7 Asst. Coordinatots, 8 Cluster Heads & 27 Street Coordinators
- BEC 6- Our Lady Guadalupe (Dec. 12), Pili Park, headed by Tanini de Leon with 2 Asst. Coordinators
- BEC 7E-Nuestra Senora del Pilar (Oct. 12), St. James Parish courtyard, headed by Marissa Soriano with 3 Asst. Coordinators
- BEC 7W- Immaculate Heart of Mary (Dec. 8), Padre Garcia St., headed by Cynthia Arceo with 3 Asst. Coordinators & 10 Street Coordinators
The said BECs are holding their liturgical celebrations specially the novena masses, fellowship and other BEC activities in the vicinity of their grottos, where the image of Marian Patroness can be found. They just put mono block chairs and tents in conducting BEC activities mostly accommodating community participation.
Each BEC in Alabang has respective BEC leaders & 1 year plan BEC activities. All BEC leaders usually gathered for a regular Parish BEC meeting every 3rd Saturday of the month in refectory in St. James.
Last March 26, 2014, His Excellency Most Reverend Bishop Jesse T. Mercado, DD has had rendered a pastoral visit to St. James the Great Parish. He had met the parish staff & went to the grotto of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (BEC3) located at Ma. Cristina Park, a bible sharing among various members of the parish community occurred. The pastoral visit highlighted by the Eucharistic celebration presided by Bishop Jesse with concelebrants Msgr. Albert Venus, Fr. Elso Nalangan, Msgr. Rufino Suplido, Fr. Carmelo Estores and Fr. JP Frias. In his homily, Bishop Jesse cited the importance of keeping the faith in the midst of turbulent times. His visit was ended up with a group discussion on current and upcoming programs, concerns, and other projects among various representatives of the parish community over a dainty dinner.
The establishment of the “neighborhood church” in Alabang Village continues in progress. BEC 1-8 leading and involving more families in the “neighborhood church” to a holistic pastoral plan attracts interest to be evangelized and become evangelizers to their family members, househelps and neighbors. No one is left behind, no one is left unaided as long as the “neighborhood church” maintaining its legacy to journey together under the mantle of protection of the Blessed Mary, with the inspiration of St. James the Greater & Camino de Santiago and the blessing of God.
2015 Year of the Poor, the direction of BECs in Alabang to address the needs of poor children/families is that, each BEC is assigned to host a particular number of families of the KST graduates for their “adopt-a-family” program. Hosting a feeding program for 150 children ages 5-6 years old in Itaas Elementary School and 100 children ages 2-6 years old in Espeleta, Muntinlupa, as well as in Haven for Children. Also, hosting a feeding program for 70 children at Rebecaa Dulo; a monthly visit and donation of supplies to orphanages & monthly visit to Elsie Gatches Village to give company to the children; caring for retired priests; medical & dental mission; for the sick persons in the neighborhood as well as those in need of special prayers, an intercessory group for each BEC will be organized.
Insights and Learning Experiences:
1. In general, the type of BECs in St. James the Greater Parish is holistic. They have Bible study/sharing, liturgical with social action component. Catechism for househelps, Feeding program, “I’m No Moises Leadership Program”, block rosary w/ Bible sharing, station of the cross, novena masses & via dolorosa (10 km way of the cross along the 8 Marian Grottos) are their BEC best practices. Series catechism for househelps (kasambahay) is simultaneous for all BECs in different venues, a twice a year program. Househelps who undergone this formation and successfully finish will have graduation day and exempted for catechism if they wanted to be baptized or confirmed. There is also a catechism for residents who might want to become a catechist which is being held at St. James Hall A. BECs in Alabang Village are mostly old & young families. They highly regard their privacy – a challenge for BEC organizers. Some BECs could raised fund for a whole year BEC activities. A BEC leader has blog to communicate with BEC members aside of using mobiles. Collaboration and coordination among BEC leaders/district representatives, parish BEC Coordinators and parish priest does exist. They have contact to each other, and so they could easily invite fellow BEC leaders to attend and support each other BEC activities.
2. Shared leadership through “quadcord & buddy-buddy system” is an effective tool to run BEC program and pushed them up into a grace-driven and Christ-centered lives.
3. The spirit of neighborhood church attributed to all househelps and workers in the village significantly on May 1, Labor Day celebration for them and in December, a Christmas party hosted for them.
4. BEC in Alabang Village is powerful to help in need materially & spiritually. “Yes, kind words are more effective than the best of gifts, and if you are really concerned, you will give both.”- Sirach 18:17
- Camino de Santiago: The Official Gazette of St. James the Greater, June 2013 edition, p. 2
- BEC1-3 Profiles
- Interviews: Chita & Benny Araw, Alice Bacani, Nitz Cuevas, Mimi Valerio & Mgr. Manny Gabriel
- Annual Parish Assembly 2015 Report: Commission on BEC and New Evangelization