Supporting one another in the BEC family

The month of August is associated with Malaysia’s Independence Day which falls on the last day of the month. The theme for this year’s celebration is Keluarga Malaysia Teguh Bersama!

Aug 19, 2022

The month of August is associated with Malaysia’s Independence Day which falls on the last day of the month. The theme for this year’s celebration is Keluarga Malaysia Teguh Bersama!

‘Family love: a vocation and a path to holiness’
Incidentally, in August, the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur will begin a year of initiatives to promote and support the family as the foundation of society. The theme for the programme follows the theme of the 10th World Meeting of Families held in Rome in June – Family love: a vocation and a path to holiness. The Family Life Commission has planned a series of activities which include podcasts on the main topics that were discussed at the 10th World Meeting of Families, family worship of the Blessed Sacrament, family Rosaries and pilgrimages, outreach to different component groups and an in-depth revisit of Amoris Laetitia, an apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis on love in the family, The Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur will kick off the year-long event with a solemn inaugural Mass on August 21 at the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist with Archbishop Julian Leow as the main celebrant. (HERALD July 31, 2022)

Personally, I am not looking forward to a year centred on the family. Many of my friends who are single adults often share that they are not interested in family related activities. This is because these activities are focused on the nucleus family of husband, wife and children, thus asserting the Family Life Ministry to become irrelevant for single adults.

Even though some of us may not belong to a nucleus family, we certainly belong to other types of ‘family’ such as the ministries that we serve in, and our BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities). Although these entities may not be ‘family’ in the conventional sense, the relationship amongst its members give me a sense of belonging – just like in a regular family.

Attending BEC gatherings in urban and semi-urban areas
When I was growing up in Port Klang, attending BEC gatherings was a breeze. Our homes were in landed property, so we walked or drove to the location, entered the house and sat ourselves in the living room for the gathering to begin. However, when I moved to Kuala Lumpur and joined a BEC that is located in the heart of the city, attending BEC gatherings was a culture shock for me. Firstly, we have to brace traffic to reach the home of the host family. This means we have to leave our homes or offices earlier in order to beat traffic. Secondly, because we are located in the heart of the city, all our members live in high-rise condos. Therefore, whenever we went for our monthly gathering, we had to arrive 20 minutes earlier. We needed sufficient time to register with the security personnel on the ground floor and then find our way to the unit. In luxury condos, the security guard would walk us to the unit. However, in other condos, we had to find our own way, which meant more time is needed.

Another disadvantage of having BEC gatherings in high rise buildings is space constraints. Not all of us live in penthouses or condos with large spaces that can accommodate between 15 to 20 people. My 581 sq ft, one-bedroom unit is certainly not an option, as a BEC gathering may trigger safety issues with security. Therefore, only a limited number of my BEC members with large condos are able to play host. This challenge propelled us to think of unconventional locations for our BEC gathering. Just last month, my BEC coordinator graciously hosted our gathering at her restopub along Changkat Bukit Bintang. We are probably the only BEC in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur who have our gathering at such a location. We were certainly more relaxed in a different environment and shared more openly during the group sharing. In spite of the challenges attending BEC gatherings, we always made it a point to meet every month. During the pandemic when everyone stayed home, we continued our monthly BEC gatherings and weekly recitation of the rosary via Zoom. By being present for each other during the pandemic probably boosted our mental health and kept us sane.

More than BEC gatherings
Apart from our monthly gatherings, a few of my BEC members who live close to each other meet up often for a meal and drinks. Before the pandemic, a member (who is a newly baptised Catholic) and I would attend Holy Hour every Thursday at the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist. After that, we would adjourn to one of the watering holes in Changkat Bukit Bintang for Ladies Night where members of the fairer sex enjoy free flow of wine for two hours. During this time, we would share about the Catholic faith, Church history and life in general. Despite being a newly baptised Catholic, my fellow BEC member has vast knowledge of Church history and discussing such topics over a glass of wine builds camaraderie.

Other activities that I do with my BEC members include attending Mass together, hitching rides back from church in their car, serving at a soup kitchen, and we even travelled to Europe together. Once the pandemic lets up, a few of us plan to join a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The BEC has become an unconventional family where I feel a sense of belonging and friendship.

Keluarga Malaysia Teguh Bersama!
When Malaysia celebrates her 65th independence on Aug 31, the theme, Keluarga Malaysia Teguh Bersama! reminds us to stay united as a nation, and that strength and togetherness are achievable through the collective efforts of every Malaysian. Similarly, when love is the foundation of our BECs, a strong bond of friendship and unity is built amongst its members. Knowing that we are supporting each other with our prayers and presence for each other is what being family is all about.

(Julie Lim Seet Yin believes that a satisfied life measured by one’s heart, mind and soul is better than a successful life measured by worldly yardsticks. She works for a Japanese bank and is responsible for its Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. She can be reached at: [email protected])

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