Mindanao, the Philippines, 26 February, 2019 -- Two Salesian parishes in Mindanao - Sacred Heart of Jesus (Mati) and Mary Help of Christians (Davao-Calinan-Dacudao) are a humble contribution to the evangelization of Mindanao. However the parish community dynamics of Mindanao are very different from other islands of the Philippines and from other EAO countries. Each parish community counts about 3000 or 2500 families respectively and it means about 300 lay mission partners involved in stewardship - various ministries in the large parish community with dozens of 'stations' or 'basic ecclesial communities'.
According to the Bishop of Mati (Davao Oriental province), Bishop Abel C. Apigo, the 19 parishes of the large Mati diocese territory are composed of no fewer than 1037 BEC (Basic Ecclesial Communities ,in Visayan language: GKK - Gagmay’ng Kristohanong Katilingban). Each of the 37 BEC of Mati Sacred Heart Parish has its own president, council and own ministers, every Sunday the lay minister (total of 72 within the parish) holds the liturgy of the Word and distributes Holy communion in each BEC.
Indeed many can learn from Mindanao BEC and parish communities about the consistency of regular lay formation of BEC leaders and other Ministry coordinators (Music, Health, Catechesis, Family, Youth, Social Action). Our Parish pastoral council members are full of joy in serving their community:
- Helping people in need, especially the marginalized, also with alternative medicine
- Serving the Lord in liturgy and His people
- Being members of Don Bosco parish - sense of belonging
- Bringing the youth together for events and youth movement formation.
The Youth group leader shares: 'In spite of many temptations and impact of social media, many young people are involved in our activities, we try to make our peers more responsible for their friends who might be closed in on themselves.' Parish council chairman shares her conviction that if she puts God at the center of her life, there is more energy and joy in service of the whole community!
Sacred Heart parish was entrusted to the Salesians 21 years ago in 1998 and over the years has established a true Salesian spirit, also thanks to the group of Salesian Cooperators, synergy with the Vocational Training Center (1993) and Senior High school (2015). Majority of the population is economically rather weak, so another project of Parish Cooperative for marginalized people was launched this month.
The vibrant Mindanao Catholic communities are a good model and inspiration for many other Catholic faithful and communities across our region.