"From now on 'aggiornamento' will signify for us a wisely undertaken quest for a deeper understanding of the spirit of the Council and the faithful application of the norms it has-happily and prayerfully provided" (Pope Paul VI) "The Church - the people of God - as a whole including the laity, has a total task which may suitably be summarized under the Caption of 'witness', 'ministry' and 'fellow ship'-r-'martyrion', 'dikonia' and 'koinonia' (Introduction to Lumen Gentium)
The movement of BCCs (Basic Christian Communities) is a common phenomenon. It is because of a desire for active and communal liturgy, a desire for co-operation and fellowship, a desire for reinterpreting the gospel in an existing situation, a desire to come together around a common issue. Because of these aims people come together around the Word. The promotion of BCCs is a answer to the threats raised by individualism, consumerism, impersonal relationships, superficial religious practice and unconcern for others. The above guiding spirit of the deliberations and of the documents of Vatican Council II, was the source of inspiration for the then Diocese of Trivandrum for implementing the 'aggiornamento' with the help of the people of God. All the priest of Trivandrum Diocese under the guidance of Bishop (Late) Dr. Jacob Acharuparambil spend three days in Kottar, Diocese (Tamilnadu) to formulate new policies and methods to implement them. (Which is called the living together of 1987).
The Local Church understood the importance of fellowships -small communities -in carrying out the objectives of Vatican Council II and the need of involvement of even the least, the last and the lost of the society, in building a new local church, which eventually lead to the formation of B.C.C. In 1989 when Rt. Rev. Dr. Soosa Pakiam became the bishop of Trivandrum he continued the above process more vigorously. The above process aimed at the involvement of the laity where ever possible including liturgy, in the renewal process of the Diocese, empowering the laity, evolving a lay leadership to enable the community (The (Latin) Catholics which consist of different ethnic groups) to come to the fore front of the society in every field.
A three tier system - Diocese, Vicariate, Parish was introduced.
The Basic Christian Communities (BCC) of the parish assembles at least once in a month in one of the houses for the meeting. A unit consist of families from 20 to 30 in number, in a particular geographical area. The programme of the meeting consists of prayer, reading, sharing of the Word, discussion based on the reading, in the background of local need, occasion or a particular situation. The discussions ultimately lead the unit to undertake a particular mission/programme. The meeting can be a celebration of religious festival, local festival, different occasions of family life etc. The method of conduct of meeting is suitably modified to suit the occasion, retaining the basic elements of the B.C.C.
The Basic Christian Communities(BCC) of the parish assembles at least once in a month in one of the houses for the meeting. A unit consist of families from 10 to 30 in number, in a particular geographical area. The programme of the meeting consist of prayer, reading, sharing of word, discussion based on the reading, in the background of local need, occasion or a particular situation. The discussions ultimately lead the unit to undertake a particular mission/programme. The meeting can be a celebration of religious festival, local festival, different occasions of family life etc. The method of conduct of meeting is suitably modified to suit the occasion, retaining the basic elements of the B.C.C.
Wards are the structures that consist of different BCC units. This is an intermediate structure between the parish and BCC unit in the big parishes. Ward meetings are held under the leadership of co-ordinator frequently, to find out proper functioning of the units. Parish level leaders meeting are held regularly for the evaluation and implementing of further programmes in the parish. There the leaders report on their BCC units and study on a particular topic, for the next BCC meeting, and conduct various discussions on the parish. In the Forane level, Forane commission meeting is held regularly under the leadership of the priest coordinator of the BCC ministry, where all the chief leader of the BCCs in the parishes of the concerned Forane gathers there and evaluates the activities effectively. In the Archdiocese, the Director of B.C.C. convenes the meeting of animators, co-ordinators, and resource team whenever necessary. Forane animators of the respective Forane report the activities of the parishes twice in a month in the archdiocesan office.
The efforts started during the year 89-90 to establish the structure of the B.C.C. from Director to the unit, yielded its results after few years, but not without hurdles. Due to the determination policy of the bishop, active participation of priests and religious and the commitment of the laity B.C.C. units were established in all Foranes and Parishes. After the bifurcation of the Diocese in 1997 the Diocese has 8 Vicariates, 82 Parishes, 23 substations and 1980 number of B.C.C. units.
After establishing units in all Parishes or after forming the structure in the whole Diocese, the thrust was given to improve the quality of the meetings and the contents prepared for the conduct of the meeting.
In anticipation of the great jubilee 2000 - a living together in 1998 of priest, religious and laity was held for three days in Animation Centre, Trivandrum. Though by the time, quantitative growth was achieved, qualitative problems – leadership hurdles - were existing. The living together analysed the past and present, and based on the findings, vision of the Diocese for the future 10 years and plans accordingly were prepared. This was mainly focused on the all-round development of the (Latin) Catholic Community. B.C.C. in particular focused on the leadership training and formed archdiocesan and Forane resource teams.
Preparation of the modules for the conduct of the meetings more attractively, with the aid of modern media; intensive involvement of the Diocese and team in selected parishes for the all-round development; strengthening and unifying the activities of the ministry through B.C.C., skill training for the leaders to face the socio political problems; simultaneous election at all levels, through a democratic process, training before and after election are some of the activities.
Deepening of faith; renewed vision of church-the Kingdom of God; fellowship; improved relationship; better participation; sharing of word and resources; skilled leaders, new leaders, responsible laity; empowerment of the laity; democratic structure & election; frequent training; decision making, planning, execution and evaluation; communication from top to bottom on both directions; community building; transparency; contribution in socio-economic development of the society are some of the achievements.