Adelaides Basic Ecclesial Communities Project by lindash

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									Adelaide's Basic Ecclesial Communities Project
                                                                                                   Bob Wilkinson *
The Adelaide archdiocese has undertaken a pastoral restructuring of its parishes that has raised many
questions. In merely structural terms, Archbishop Faulkner has asked each Adelaide parish, in its own time
but eventually, to set up an infrastructure of smaller pastoral units, by neighbourhood or country town,
analogous to the way a diocese is structured into parishes. Each of these smaller district units making up
the parish is known as a Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC). The parish will become a community of smaller
district communities. The life of the parish as a whole continues. Under the priests' leadership, that life still
centres on the parish Sunday Eucharist and liturgy, the school and other whole-parish activities. However,
also under the priest's ministry of unity, between the life of the parish and the life of the family there is
developing the intermediate life of the district BEC. Regardless of their church observance, all the 150 or so
Catholic households in each BEC district belong to that BEC, just as the Catholics within the parish's
boundaries belong.

Each BEC will have as rich a church life as possible, again analogous to that of the parish and diocese,
under the pastoral leadership of a small lay team drawn from that BEC for a limited term of office. Two years
after the diocese undertook BECs, a quarter of the members of the diocese are in the 14 parishes
committed to BECs, all of which are at different stages. Progress of BECs on the ground is modest but
steady.

This structural statement of the Adelaide project needs to be brought to life to include the story of the
diocesan pastoral spirituality made up of three equal and interacting elements:
         the pastoral vision that inspires this project
         the pastoral analysis demanding diocesan action
         the project's policies, processes and stages of change.
These three elements have developed side by side as part of the diocesan story.

The growth of a diocesan pastoral vision
Adelaide is in debt to its own consultant theologian. Fr Denis Edwards, for his part in developing a diocesan
pastoral vision focused on the church as community of disciples for the world, called to share in the
communion of the Trinity. In the '80s, he assisted Adelaide's diocesan renewal program led by David
Shinnick who, in turn, had pioneered lay leadership areas for a lifetime.

This renewal led to parish and diocesan assemblies in which people expressed the needs of the church as
they saw them. Drawing on these, Archbishop Faulkner in 1988 presented a diocesan vision statement.
Creating it and using it has united the diocese around certain points the Archbishop made then:
          Read the signs of the times. Our world faces huge issues: from unemployment for large groups,
          lack of respect for human life, our ageing population, the lack of hope and meaning among many
          young. How do we bring the Good News to such a world? The key is leadership training to bring
          the gospel to bear on all aspects of life today.
          The essence of Christian leadership is the call to every person to participate with God and one
          another to shape the world. Loving God and others means holiness that expresses itself in the
          here and now in every circumstance of our lives. Each person has a unique mission where he or
          she lives and we need one another to discover what this is by reflection in small Christian
          communities.
           Small Christian communities are needed in every parish, especially by those with key positions in
          society, to reflect on their lives in the light of the Gospel. As well as discovering the presence and
          call of God in the individual's everyday, this needs to be grasped against the wider world picture.
          These small parish communities need to be linked for the parish and diocese to be a community of
          communities. Liturgy, education courses and family life are essential for their formation.



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         Leadership is called for within the parish for a church that is participatory and enabling. The heart
         for all leadership is in staying close to Jesus the leader, for his courage, strength, stand with the
         poor, sick and despised against all oppression and exclusion.

But the concept of small Christian communities in every parish proved a tough theological nut. The idea
came from a long Adelaide history of lay movements in the YCW style based on small groups practising the
Review of Life, as it is called, in which people study their lives in the light of the Gospel to discover God's
call in the everyday. The method is widely abbreviated (and the process of discernment rather sold short) as
See-Judge-Act. But it turned out that the form of organisations which people join did not transfer simply to a
parish, which has a more complex and universal mission. Who should belong to groups? How would such
groups relate to the parish? What was the role of the priest? In particular, would these prove divisive
because only a few people join small discussion groups? What about the rest of the parishioners?

After some years of experimenting and soul-searching in many parishes, the Archbishop took a further step
in the direction of community. Random small groups alone were insufficient to address the needs of parish
renewal as community for the world. A richer view of parish was needed. If we believed truly in the mission
of all the baptised faithful and if we were sincere about welcoming them at baptism into a community of faith,
hope and love, the parish had to restructure. In 1994 Archbishop Faulkner took a further step towards
restructuring parish community in depth.

Already, Pope Paul VI had written in an extended passage of commendation and admonitions about basic
ecclesial communities in Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975):

         In some regions they appear and develop, almost without exception, within the Church, having
         solidarity with her life, being nourished by her teaching and united with her pastors. In these cases,
         they spring from the need to live the Church's life more intensely, or from the desire and quest for a
         more human dimension such as larger ecclesial communities can only offer with difficulty,
         especially in the big modern cities which lend themselves both to life in the mass and to anonymity
         (58).

In his letter on BECs in October 1994, Archbishop Faulkner spoke of the need for experiences of real
community in a society that was excluding and marginalising so many groups. He recalled the small
Christian communities referred to in the diocesan vision statement and spoke of the gradual deepening that
had led to the groupings needed now being seen rather as Basic Ecclesial Communities. He prefaced his
reflection by speaking of the different sizes and culture of every parish and made clear that parishes should
move to BECs in their own way and at their own pace.

He went on, though, to say, 'I believe that the world-wide emergence of BECs is the work of the Holy Spirit
in our time, a gift of God to the Church For this reason, they have a central place in the diocesan vision and
I encourage parishes to move towards them as a long-term orientation and 'preferred way' for our local
church'.

Then he offered some clarifications. BECs were not specialised groups like the St Vincent de Paul Society
nor a special-function parish group like the RCIA. Existing groups remain vital but are not BECs.

'Rather the BEC is the Church in a local area within a parish. It is a local church community following the
way of Jesus, listening to His word, animated by His Spirit and directed to his mission. Its concerns are as
wide as the missionary concerns of the church. It is a permanent community which is open to and involved
with, all the Catholics in a local area. It reaches out beyond the Catholic community to the issues that touch
the lives of people in a local area ... It is a community of diverse people, built up through the practice of



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warm and open friendship, in the spirit of Jesus himself.' (Italics mine), He quoted the Synod of Bishops
(1985):

         Because the Church is communion, the new basic ecclesial communities, as they are called, if
         they try to live within the unity of the church, are a true expression of communion and a means
         for the construction of a more profound communion.

He pointed out that the priest and parish pastoral council, representing the bishop, had a key role in
deciding on, supporting and forming BECs. Absolutely key to BECs was their communion with the parish,
the diocese and the universal church. Each BEC belonged to the network of BECs. Its leadership would be
normally from within the BEC and might well be a shared or team leadership, and they would be authorised
by the bishop or pastor publicly. BECs were essentially Eucharistic communities but they reached out to
people who were not regularly involved on Sundays.

He ended, 'I believe that BECs can help to overcome the isolation that so many people experience. They
can bring not only a sense of mutual belonging but also a stronger sense of discipleship and mission. As
Pope Paul VI said in 1975, BECs are a cause of great hope for the life of the church'. (Italics mine).

The public language on BECs is necessarily often about structure. But what the Archbishop and parishes
already working towards BECs are seeking is a parish where the face of Christ shines more clearly. A parish
with sacramental life that was not translated into a transforming experience of common life and offering
consistent care to all the baptised would not have grasped why Jesus appealed to the startling text 'I want
mercy, not sacrifice'.

The basic grouping has changed before. When there was only the city church, it was the basic ecclesial
community. Then as the city became impersonal in its extent, parishes evolved rapidly in the fourth century
and the parish became the basic ecclesial community. BECs are only the latest expression of the church's
instinct for the experience of close relationships as normal at the base of its unity.

('Mutual relationships of community' does not mean living in each others' pockets or trying to maintain a
permanent picnic. Far from meaning folk costumes and frolics on the village green, community in pre-
industrial European villages, as Weber points out, meant hard-headed solidarity, mutual support in needs
like home building, precisely to defend a healthy normal privacy. BECs are meant to let all parishioners
experience that they are known in their church in an ongoing way, respected, needed and entitled to support
in their calls for help.)

The faith vision around BECs proves harder for some than the organisational change. One woman was
delighted at the friendliness of her BEC. She said. This is wonderful. But what has it got to do with church?'
If a common life, the New Testament's koinonia, has become a strange novelty to parishioners, the case for
reworking community forms is strong.

This has been discussing the mutual love of Catholics in BECs. Another article would be needed to develop
the church's mission to those not yet in full communion with it and to the world. What is it in our present
structures that has allowed the Eucharist to become so individualised that it has become separated in
Catholic culture from the Last Supper's mission to go forth and bear fruit that will remain?

An immediate question was raised. Could laity undertake a ministry of general pastoral responsibility for one
another? The answer was simple. What pastoral care exceeds in responsibility and demands for wisdom
that of a couple for each other and their children? An open ended public ministry down-the-street in a BEC
would be a serious responsibility for priest or laity, but surely no more demanding than that within a family
which is endowed with its own sacrament.


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The growth of a diocesan pastoral analysis.

Pastoral analysis concerns the understanding of the situation to which the pastors address themselves and
the understanding of resources at their disposal. One rule of pastoral analysis is to avoid sectional debating
stances. The question is what analysis of the situation best offers hope of fidelity to the threefold presence
of God, in the Gospel, in the story of Christian people as church and in the hopes and fears, the joys and
sorrows of people today, especially those of the poorest and the oppressed. Let me intrude here a
paragraph or two of analysis of my own, as distinct from that of the diocese.

French sociologist Francois Dubet in a rigorous study of marginalised youth found them living
simultaneously within three clashing systems each with its own logic1. This study was conducted in France,
but his systemic analysis seems valid for more and more people in the global society. The first of the three
logics lived in post industrial society is that of traditional community systems - family, neighbourhood, work,
religion and citizenship. The power of traditional communities to socialize the young is clearly in sharp
decline. In Australia, for example, marriage is becoming an individual option, not a taken-for granted
cultural fact. Over half of couples' first unions are de facto and nearly half first births are now outside
marriage2. Socialisation into traditional community forms has been overwhelmed by the second logic, that of
the market place and its individualistic competitive ethos transferred to almost every other area of life.
Individual fulfillment has become separated from its moral link with shared fulfillment. Parents today are
falling back more and more to one secure role above all, that of getting their children into the winning circle.
The world's golden calf is now winners, preferably rich.

Losers, especially the poor, have been recast as the public sinners in this system. Social solidarity is
crumbling and subsidiarity is being replaced by financial control, global and anonymous, making or breaking
the governments of nation states. The third logic Dubet invoked appears as the system evident in modern
social movements, the system of "subjectivation", being a subject of life rather than someone else's object of
expectations. This expresses itself as people distancing themselves from both traditional expectations and
also from the rat-race to seek identity in some model of creative struggle for authenticity, freedom, honesty,
mutuality and (sometimes to older peoples' confusion) some form of solidarity and commitment. Privileged
groups may negotiate these three simultaneous systems of community, competition and subjectivation
successfully, but also-rans feel they fail in all three.

Using that analysis, we can see that the church is clearly a victim of the atrophying of traditional processes
and forms. While nominal Catholic numbers grow, relative church solidarity is weaker than ten, twenty, thirty
and forty years ago. Church vocations are few relative to the recent past and likely to remain so. Number
games are not the point. Exceptions can always be named, but it seems dishonest not to name what is
happening, especially to the young Catholics in our cities where the great bulk of the population live. There
is no divine law to talk things up if this blinds us to drastic changes that need addressing. Rather the
opposite. It is no service to the Church to point proudly to excellent and committed young Catholics if this
blinds us to the vast haemorrhaging of other young Catholics from a central identity in their church, any
more than pointing to the healthy during the Black Death would have given the lie to reports of a plague.
The faith of young Catholics is less resistant to secular culture than most of us have ever previously
experienced. Most young couples preparing with a priest for marriage lack a coherent commitment to the
church as an identity and a community for life. Most are no longer even hostile to the Church over any
conflict with its beliefs, so lightly do they wear their affiliation to what they experience as a folk heritage to
pick and choose from. Catholic parents formed in another age have generally learned to accept that the
young will be different and to try to see the good in their choices.

1
    .   Cf Dubet F. Lei Galére: jeunes en survie. Fayard, p.n.g. 1987. In Sociologie de I'Espérience (Seuil. Paris. 1994), he expands his research into
        a general theory of experience in the post-industrial world.
2
        cf. K.McDonald. Arena The Uncertain Family 21. June-July 1996.



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The modern young have been short-handed as ACES - alienated, cynical, experimental and savvy.
Whoever would reach these searchers needs to have meeting space, relationships and a language of
mutual respect open to new and old alike. If any traditional institution is to be heard, it needs to show
unexpected and creative structures within itself, offering a voice to the voiceless as equal partners. This is
very similar to the experience the early church presented to its world. Somehow new forms of community
experienced by the majority as creative and life-giving because open to healthy tensions are vital for the
Church.

An end to my analysis: How has Adelaide diocese addressed the post-modern or post-industrial in its
pastoral analysis? Be it said, haltingly but systematically and with determination. Contrary to some slings of
outrageous fortune we have to bear, Adelaide's BECs are not at all romantic attempts at reproducing Third
World village forms. We came to our own form of them by our own path over decades. After the Vatican
Council, Archbishop Beovich and then Archbishop Gleeson (1971-85) maintained a rarity in dioceses, an
expensive adult movement of its own, the Christian Life Movement (CLM), as well as moving into Vatican
II's call for new forms of parish structure and ministry. An apostolic network in the tradition of Cardijn's
Young Christian Workers (YCW), at its height CLM had 100 home groups in many parishes regularly
reviewing their whole life and action, as well as parish concerns. Later (1981-89), under Archbishop
Gleeson, a home-grown diocesan renewal was launched, led by David Shinnick. Catholics were mobilised
around the double theme of the church as 'community of disciples' and 'community for the world'. The
renewal had lasting effects on many individuals and on diocesan structures, but showed little structural
impact on parishes.

The diocese set up in 1990 a diocesan office for developing open-ended 'small Christian communities'
within parishes. This project quickly displaced the diocese's adult Christian Life Movement, whose
membership had dwindled in the 1980's with the return of more and more of its increasingly female
membership to the work force.

One of the first issues to be faced by this diocesan office for small Christian communities in 1990 was its
own pastoral analysis. Every group, from the parish as a whole through to the Society of St Vincent de Paul
and the altar society, rightly considers itself an achieved example of small Christian community. What
groups should we promote? A crisis point came for the diocesan small community team with the realisation
that even setting up review-of-life groups in parishes would, by itself, be re-inventing the wheel. Was it
enough to re-launch a movement of small groups, which could only be the dwindling CLM,
under a different name?

A time quickly came for those of us on the diocesan small communities’ team to review our life's experience
with adult small groups and movements based on them. We believed (and still do) fully in their need for key
leaders. We are all in debt to them. But one problem stood out that we had skirted around for decades when
we were working within organisations that had a life and direction of their own, like the CLM. Every program
based on small groups without structural link for influencing the whole parish in a stable way finished up
deepening a parish cleavage between a zealous few in the small groups and the great majority of
parishioner,. Mass-goers and non-Mass-goers alike, who felt uncomfortable with small group discussions,
and exercised their right never to join them. Our best example showed this. One parish where we had most
successfully invested a full-time CLM organiser for some years in the '70s had involved 1000 out of 6000 in
small group formation. We in CLM saw our 1000 members, but the priests saw the 5000 non-members. We
also knew, too, from experience the sad irony of people who had persevered many years in small groups
but had finally left the church, from a sectarian view that the parish seemed to them beyond hope.

The small-group dilemma grew worse. At our recommendation, Archbishop Faulkner invited to Adelaide a
team sponsored by the Latin American bishops in the service of basic ecclesial communities. Over three


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week-ends, in which they led most of the priests and many lay leaders in an experience of church
community, Fr Jose Marins and the two religious sisters limited themselves to an invitation to us to look up
and have compassion on the multitude. At no stage did they burden us with details of Latin American
practice or methods or presume to promote any ideas of what action was appropriate for Australia. What
they did was introduce our conscience to a 'solar system' of pastoral analysis (Fig. 1)




Fig. I The parish solar system



The diagram represents a parish, let us say of 5-10,000 Australian Catholics. The sun represents the priests
and those 50-100 people who undertake active responsibility as office holders in various works and
organisations. This represents one per cent of parishioners. Around the sun are the planets, representing
those who regularly take part in parish life and worship. In Australia today this may average up to 20%
(1000-2000). Around these are the comets, representing the Catholics who encounter the parish as a
community only for baptisms, weddings and funerals. We know, from many surveys, that today these are
likely to number some 80% or more (3-5,000). All of these are surrounded by vaster galaxies, representing
those not in full communion with our church. These are likely to number 15-30,000 people in such a parish
area, brothers and sisters in Christ for us, but untouched systematically by the parish.

Marins suggested that around the world, parish pastoral energy usually goes in getting some of the 20%
(the Mass-goers) to join the one per cent (active responsibilities). He wondered if the 80%, the non-Mass-
goers, would still be there in one or two generations, unless we found a way to include them in church
community more fully, more consciously and more actively. In our later reflections on their visit, we
recognised that the 80% of Catholics remote from their church's community life are not problem people, they
are not distant from God or hostile to the church for the great part. Rarely have they left the church in the
sense of disaffiliating. Maybe we at Mass have left them. Their love and struggle and search in families and
work is the work of the Holy Spirit, the bulk of the Church's resource, 80% of Christ that we may have left for
lack of pastoral imagination. Was it not Laurence who pointed to the poor as the treasure of the Church?
Our treasure, our closest poor and our greatest need if we are to be saved as a whole church community,
lies in our own people with whom we have lost pastoral touch.



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Put at its crassest, our parishes have all managed to double and triple planned giving in recent decades by
lifting sights and using good organising. Let he who has not seen improved fund-raising these past decades
pour the first cold water on radical new pastoral outreach.

The growth of a diocesan pastoral method

An overview of the Adelaide BEC such as this is not the place to rehearse all the practicalities of translating
a vision into a real parish, but some points from our experience may be of interest.

That we have a diocesan commitment to BECs has been a capital help. Sr Ruth Egar RSM is diocesan co-
ordinator of our BEC consultancy with two part-time regional workers, Margaret van der Linden and Mary
Bryant, both mothers of families. This BEC office links parish experiences, serving as a consultancy and a
training team. The diocesan commitment lends legitimacy and heart on what is a hard road. We are more
than happy to dialogue with anyone but other parishes or even dioceses may also like to work with the
movement for a better world which is dedicated to BECs. We have learned a great amount from them and
look to them as experts with decades of experience from all parts of the world. We only choose to learn the
hard way on our own to continue our long story and depend on ourselves from the drawing board stage.

What parishes take up BECs as a project? We have found that most of the parishes committed to BECs are
in the north and south of the city, in large, post-World War II parishes with a younger age profile and a fair
share of battlers. Parishes with an older age profile, longer tradition and higher socio-economic status have
been less likely to venture towards BECs. The diocesan team is not actively encouraging more parishes to
begin BECs at present, preferring to invest most of our resources to help the present BEC-committed
parishes to develop clear working models for the whole diocese. We believe that if others see these initial
experiments are successful, they will follow in their own time.

Some steps in introducing BECs to a parish which we have come to appreciate over a three year time-frame
are these:

         The priest and parish pastoral council (PPC) study the concept and make the decision whether to
         pursue the project.
         A parish BEC co-ordinating team is chosen, as a sub-committee of the PPC.
         The Parish BEC co-ordinating team undertakes a six-month preparation, modelling BEC personal
         review of life and review of parish life in its progress to the BECs. We cannot recommend too
         strongly a specially prepared program of meetings. This lessens the chance of the personality of
         the priest or anyone on the team (especially the strongest or most zealous) colouring the process
         too markedly or starting a pattern of dependency on individuals or, with no time-frame, drifting
         indefinitely.

On the other hand, another lesson of experience is to name a lay person as convener of the group (for a
fixed term). We advise the priest not to lake sole responsibility for leading the co-ordinating team as this
usually suppresses questions and fears (and when the priest is moved or sick, the project grinds to a halt for
lack of a clear and trained and replaceable lay leader). Many of us priests know paternalism dies hard.

The idea of 'formation through action' is vital. We find this the hardest change for priests and religious who
are trained to discuss or preach or teach to keep the faith vision alive. The old seminary or novitiate tradition
of incubation, preparing someone by a longer or shorter period of study or discussion before any experience
of pastoral action is not appropriate for this apostolate, we suggest. The incubation model (how can we give
to others what we have not first acquired ourselves?) creates a spirit of theorising and actually hinders
people acquiring what they need because action comes too suddenly and too late to be integrated and


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owned in the light of growing understanding. Much better, we find constantly, is to follow God's original way
with parents and family life, learning on the job. This requires maintaining gradual steps of both action and
subsequent reflection on the action through the eyes of Christ and the people as interactive resources of
formation. On this foundation, needed but supplementary systematic talks, days and adult education
integrate this 'learning on the job'.

The co-ordinating team needs to approach personally all parish groups and keep them informed, reassured
and in dialogue.

Promptly map and publish for the parish tentative BEC zones even before leadership is developed. This
legitimates spontaneous opportunities for reaching out to one another in a district and gives a lesson that
leadership that develops later is to serve this spontaneity, not substitute for it. By a happy coincidence,
Neighbourhood Watch boundaries (often two Commonwealth Census Collectors Districts, for which maps
are available,) are likely to contain near the 150 or so Catholic households Adelaide has opted for as a
rough norm for a BEC population.

Gather and present the idea to potential leaders for the particular BECs, which means the BEC pastoral
team of, say four, and as many others as possible who will help as street visitors and in other roles.
Constant, even weekly, reviewing and prayer about all BEC contacting and work is the only way to maintain
and deepen it with a Christian pastoral spirit.

We suggest an early door knock just to greet and start friendships with all the Catholic households in each
BEC (launched singly seems better than the huge task of suddenly organizing up to 30 BECs in a big
parish). A visit or letter from the priest explaining the visitors' role paves the way.

How to maintain and develop the first contacts takes different forms for different responses. We are making
our way towards regular open meetings of each BEC.

A few common questions - to most of them, the answer is by way of an analogy with the present parish.

Q. If traditional community forms like neighbourhood are breaking down, why invest in neighbourhood as the
focus of restructuring? Isn't it flogging a dead horse? A. Only traditional community expectations have lost
their power. But intentional communities, which people know they have created against a tide produce great
life. Neighbourhood Watch is a modest example of intentional neighbourhood possibilities. Q. Why on earth
such a hard-to-explain name? A. To distinguish the project from other easy-to-explain projects. Try, for
example, 'small Christian communities' and it gets confused with every other group. Try 'neighbourhood
groups' and people get the impression of a social club. Above all, 'BEC' unites the move to the international
movement and literature, no small solidarity. Q. Are non-Catholics welcome? A. Of course. Q. What about
the Catholics who do not want to join in their BEC? A. It is a free church and probably half today's Catholics
will politely exercise their right to abstain from most BEC life and stay with present parish forms like Sunday
Mass, which continue for all parishioners. We are looking at a gradual process of two generations, we
guess. Q. What if someone wants to cross BECs boundaries? A. No problem, any more than crossing
parish lines at present. Q. What about leaders who come from another parish? A. These seem normally
inappropriate to lead a neighbourhood strategy, but exceptions will prove the rule. Q. What about problems
associated with new forms of leadership and membership? A. Like the early church, we expect lots of
headaches, and no miracles. There will be growing problems wherever there is life. BECs are not the whole
church and will never have all the answers. But unless some diocese or parish has a better solution or
indeed any solution to reaching out to try to embrace 100% of the Catholic baptised in a structured, lasting
way, we feel we are called to risk the opportunities and challenges BECs offer.




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We humbly admit and do not deny that this is a slow process of conversion of centuries-old attitudes that
Father and Sister do all the pastoral work of the parish. We often feel as though we are pouring the
foundations of a great edifice, hard work and a long way to go. We have not fully achieved BECs yet, but
already, there is enough witness of things old and new coming from our store, enough to give us heart that
this is God's work. We believe behind closed doors that what Catholic schools provided as the structural
rallying point for Catholicism for much of this and the last century, BECs will provide as the structural focus
of building the church in the next. i



* Fr P R Wilkinson M Soc Admin Chaplain of the Adelaide Archdiocese' s BEC
Office (1991 to 2000)


At Father Bob’s celebration of 50 years of ordained ministry to the priesthood, December 2005, Archbishop
Philip Wilson thanked Fr Bob for the work he had done as a priest and said of Fr Bob:

“Before coming to Adelaide I had been reading with great interest, what was going on, in terms of the
formation of Basic Ecclesial Communities and I could see even at a distance how important this was to the
future of the Church. They say that the essence of leadership is to have one good idea and to plug that over
and over again, and nobody could disagree that Bob’s one good idea is about the formation of BECs, small
church communities and the explosive potential that this has for the future of the Church.”

Archbishop Wilson went on further to say: “There is one more element of all our lives and that is that we
can’t expect God to show us the product of our work in our lifetime, in the life of the church all of us are
given a moment, and that moment is the time that we are asked to give everything that we have for the sake
of your church community. I believe that the insights that Bob has had for the people who have been
involved with him about the importance of small communities within the life of the Church and that potential,
is really something that will flower and come alive after nearly all of us are dead. We have to trust and give
of our best now so that long after we have gone, people will be able to stand on the foundations that we
have laid, and Bob, that’s the point, in these fifty years as a priest, because of your service and the many
little things that you don’t remember – you’ve been able to work and make it possible for the Holy Spirit to
lay foundations to the gospel through your life.”




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