April 11, 2011 at 02:14pm
Cumbaya, a small city close to Quito, Ecuadoor, is preparing for Holy Week as usual. This year “Servidores,“ (organizers) of the Base Church Communities, lay-people, are planning a retreat for the members of their communities to prepare themselves and the people in the barrios (neighborhoods) where they live, to spend this powerful week with Jesus and with their neighbors.
In studies that have been done, it is demonstrated that only 10% of Ecuadorian Catholics regularly go to Mass and participate in the life of their Church. But Holy Week is one major exception. From Palm Sunday to Easter, thousands of people participate in the services in their churches. And then there are the customs of street processions, the outdoor Way of the Cross, and other ceremonies that are commonly called “Religiosidad Popular” (Popular religious experience). These may be led by the people or by the priest. Many more thousands of people gather and join in or are observers of these celebrations.
This year in Cumbaya, each of the 15 Base Church Communities will prepare themselves spiritually as they plan a barrio activity that will aim to include many people who have never before participated in a barrio, religious activity. Last Christmas, in one barrio the people held the novena for Christmas (9 days of preparation) for the first time in the history of the barrio. Each night the novena prayers were held in a different home. Almost the entire population of the barrio was involved. That is the hope of the Servidores in the preparation and planning for Holy Week in the Barrios this year.
The Church of Latin America and the Carribean sees the Base Church Communities (CEBs= Comunidades Eclesiales de Base) as the hope for the future. They are dedicated to renewing the faith of the people and their neighborhood's social, economic and personal lives. There will be a meeting of bishops, priests and people dedicated to the formation of the CEBs in Santiago, Chile, May 9th-13th, 2011.
PICTURED: Sr. Joan Gerads of the Ministry for CEBs (seated at right), Fr. Wilson, assistant pastor (seated at left), Gloria Guaminga, coordinator of the CEBs, and several other Servidores are planning the retreat.