Sister Ruthina Francis, in community in the Ivory Coast, shares her experience of closeness and sharing of the Word of God in the Basic Ecclesial Community of St. John of Daoukro.
The Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) of which I am a member, is one of sixteen in the parish of St. Peter and St. Paul of Daoukro. Made up of men, women, and young people, this community brings together people of different ages, families, and professions in the same faith. Every Wednesday evening, we meet for an hour in a different family to exchange, receive the Word of God and be of service to one another. It is like the first Christian community that met for “the breaking of bread” (Acts 2, 42).
All of them are people of faith who meet to share on the theme proposed by the Ivory Coast Bishops’ Conference, in order to help restore a climate of peace in the country :
“A Church of communion at the service of reconciliation, justice, and peace.”
The Bishops support this pastoral form and it is in this same spirit that the Archdiocese of Bouaké has chosen as its pastoral theme for two years:
“Close and united to Christ,
let us build a living Church
with our Basic Ecclesial Communities”.
Our BEC meeting begins with prayer, often led by the youngest, and the Word of God. Afterward, a fact of life brings us all together in our daily concerns. Some questions help us to reflect and are followed by news from the families or the neighbourhood.
We are there as Sisters to support the laity in their daily life. We try to give them guidelines for a framework that will encourage Christians to help each other and help them to welcome the Word of God. We also try to support each other in our life as apostles, like our patron saint, St John the disciple.
This complementarity and reciprocity in our different ways of sharing is a mutual support for lay people and religious. It gives life to our Rule of Life, where we are asked :
“with all who believe … to take an active part
in the life of the local Church …
awakening and sustaining its missionary dynamism.”
Rule of Life no. 18
A Community of life
Some members of the Community spoke about what the Community means to them :
Mr. Zacharie : “For me, it is a neighbourhood church, made up of sisters and brothers living in the same place. We meet once a week to learn to serve each other, and to listen to the Word of God. It is also a place where fraternal life is expressed, in other words, the CEB breaks the isolation. “
Mr. Alphonse : “It is a second family. In the Church there are so many of us, we don’t have time to meet each other but in the BEC I know my brothers and sisters because there are fewer of them. It is thanks to the CEB that I have been able to forge links because there is a spirit of mutual help, brotherhood, sharing our worries and joys. “
Mrs Kouassi : “There is brotherhood because I can share my family problems and pains. This is really my family. I listen to and share the Word. “
Mrs Behamel : “It is my Christian family because after Mass on Sunday, everyone leaves quickly. This is a place where we can share our daily worries in confidence. I feel that the others listen to me. “
Rebecca : “The CEB is a meeting between Christians to better discover Jesus, to be nourished by the Word of God and to know each other. “
A service of love
It is a beautiful experience of a diverse church community that allows Christians to be in communion, and to share their faith beyond the rituals. It allows them to have a communal relationship with their neighbours and to be aware of the implication of their faith in their daily lives.
In his 1988 apostolic exhortation “Christifideles Laici“, Pope Jean-Paul II stressed that,
“Parishes should foster small basic communities where the faithful can communicate the Word of God to one another and express themselves in the service of love…”
May our patron saint,
St. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved,
pray for the Basic Ecclesial Community
of St. John of Daoukro!!!
Sr Ruthina Francis dj