The BECs at St. Camillus Church: A Sacred Space to Practice Christian Belief in the Presence of God in Others

Edgardo Jara Araya, Fordham University


Churches continue to be a privileged places where most active Catholics learn, live, and celebrate their faith. However, many Catholics are looking for deeper ways to experience community and belonging. In recent decades, many apostolic movements along with the basic ecclesial communities (BECs), have played an important role in parishes with Hispanic ministries in the United States. Saint Camillus church, in the Archdiocese of Washington, is one of them. In 2006, this parish started a process to develop base ecclesial communities. This study explores the pastoral effectiveness of the three oldest BECs at St. Camillus. The goal is to determine the characteristics and elements that have helped them to stay active for so many years. Using participant observation and qualitative interviews, the research seeks to discover the secret, the recipe, and the ingredients that have made these three small communities an example of perseverance. What are their stories, opportunities, strengths, and challenges that have allowed them to grow and prosper? As Roberto S. Goizueta said, “one’s actions are the most accurate reflection of one’s identity. If you want to know who I am, observe how I live my life, with whom I interrelate, to which activities I devote my time, energy, and resources.” The investigation concludes that these three BECs have been a sign of vitality within the parish, where members can live the sacredness in the small. These BECs have offered a sacred space where first generation Hispanic immigrants can experience belonging and the presence of God in and through others. This sacred space also offers a way to grow in their Catholic Christian faith.

Subject Area

Theology|Religion|Hispanic American studies

Recommended Citation

Jara Araya, Edgardo, "The BECs at St. Camillus Church: A Sacred Space to Practice Christian Belief in the Presence of God in Others" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30311734.