Last June 12, 2011 – Pentecost Sunday – the parish of San Nicolas Tolentino in Surigao City celebrated the 3rd BEC day. Thousands of members and leaders of BECs from all over the parish converged at 7 am in the Cathedral for the mass of Pentecost presided by Bishop Antonieto Cabajog. Immediately after the mass the BECs had a parade around the city – with the respective floats and streamers of the various clusters, following several marching bands. They proceeded to the provincial sports center where they started the program and festivities. Bishop Cabajog gave the keynote address while Fr. Amado Picardal gave a talk on the “Holy Spirit in the life of the BECs.” The games, singing and dancing added to the festive atmosphere. After the agape lunch, there was more dancing and then the coronation of the Mr. and Miss BEC. The presence and participation of so many young people signified their active involvement in their respective BECs. The youth program and ministry is implemented not just in the parish center but in every BEC in the barangays.
The BEC day was coordinated by Fr. Ernesto Virgen (rector of the Cathedral and Diocesan BEC coordinator). This was organized by the parish pastoral council, the Parish Formation Team and the Youth Formation Team. This is the third year that the parish celebrated the BEC day. Fr. Virgen implemented a recommendation of the 2008 CBCP-BEC national assembly which encouraged parishes to celebrate BEC day on Pentecost Sunday.
The BECs in San Nicolas Tolentino were formed in 2002 when Fr. Virgen was assigned in the cathedral parish. After making a census and data-gathering, Fr. Virgen together with his parochial vicar and the newly-formed Parish Formation Team carried out an evangelization program in each barangay and local communities. After nine years, the BECs have taken root all over the parish. Besides coming together to pray and reflect on the Word of God, some of these communities have started some mutual-aid program that will respond not only to their spiritual needs but also material/social needs. According to Fr. Virgen, the priority for the coming years, besides getting young people involved in BECs, is to develop the social action apostolate of these communities. He hopes that someday, the BECs will be able to address effectively the problems that they face – whether social, economic or political. One of his dreams is a multipurpose cooperatives – for credit, production and marketing.
The parish in San Nicolas Tolentino is an example where the BECs grow and thrive due to the initiative, support and leadership of the clergy with the active participation of religious sisters and lay leaders – including the young people. The members of the parish formation team are all volunteers and many of them come from lay organizations, renewal movements and mandated organizations.