PREX Borbon

In the early 1970's, Rev. Fr. CHARLES "Chuck" GALLAGHER, S.J., convened a group of priests and lay people for a reflection on Pope Paul VI's "(Evangelii Nuntiandi)" As the discussion progressed, it became clear to all present that, for evangelization to become a reality, it required a "people focus". It should begin with a conversion experience that is oriented to the parish, the basic structure of the Catholic Church, and that it must start with the family, the basic unit of society. With this in mind, the group developed some general directions and guidelines for a program to be conducted over the period of a weekend during which the participants could commute from their respective homes. Since that meeting, Fr. Gallagher piloted the Parish Renewal Experience (PREX) in the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey. Since then, it has spread to more than a thousand parishes in the USA and Ireland. Around 1,200 priests in the USA and 600 in Ireland have trained in order that they could give the Weekend Experience to people in their own parishes. It has since been introduced into Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Fiji and the Philippines.

PREX Borbon

The Parish Renewal Experience is based on the concept expressed by Pope Paul VI: "The Church is an evangelizer, but she begins by evangelizing herself by constant conversion and renewal, in order to evangelize world with credibility" (Evangelii Nuntiandi). It is an attempt to answer the three questions posed by Pope Paul VI in the apostolic exhortation mentioned:

  • What has happened to that hidden energy of the good News which has such a powerful effect on man's conscience?
  • Is the evangelical force of the Gospel capable of transforming lives?
  • What method should be followed to insure that the Gospel may have the proper impact?
The Parish Renewal Weekend is a conversion experience. It is a strong recall into belonging to the people of God, the Church. The reestablishment of belonging occurs through an emphasis on, and an experience of, reconciliation. It is an attempt to respond to the search for direction and approaches to strengthen and deepen the life of our parishes. It advances the parishes (priests, religious and laity together as a family) toward the goal of a faith community.

There is a continuing need for reconciliation in all of us. The follow-up to the Weekend is not a movement in the setting of parish life is based on this need. The Parish Renewal Weekend is not a movement from without to help the parish. It is about the parishes renewing themselves. The follow-up at parish level is therefore vital. This calls for no structures since everything is based on existing groups and societies, nor does it call for new movements and new societies. It concentrates simply on the parish. A greater awareness then emerges that the parish is not a "we" and "they" arrangement, but a call to be family - to learn how to live with and love one another.

The first Parish Renewal Experience Seminar in the Philippines was conducted at the Sanctuario de San Antonio Parish, Forbes Park, Makati by its Parish Priest Fr. Hugh Zurat, OFM, in the early 1980's. Fr. Zurat, an American, had a vacation in the United States where he took his PREX (then called PRE). Upon his return to his parish, he right away conducted the seminar to his parishioners.

The training of parish priests in the Philippines took place in Baguio City in 1983 under Fr. Chuck Gallagher himself, on invitation of His Eminence, Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, who was overwhelmed and inspired by the visible results of PREX that he saw in Sanctuario de San Antonio parishioners in Forbes Park. The most active parish in the country today in giving PREX seminars in and out of its parish is the GOOD SHEPHERD CATHEDRAL PARISH of Fairview Park, Quezon City under the spiritual leadership of its former parish priest, Msgr. FIDELIS LIMCACO, and presently, its new pastor, Msgr. Gerry Tapiador. In Fairview alone, the Good Shepherd Cathedral Parish has already given more than 225 classes, conducted once a month for the last 20 years. It has outreached many parishes in the Archdiocese of Manila as well as in Northern and Southern Luzon, Batanes, the Bicol regions, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The PREX logo represents the Blessed Trinity --- three Persons in One God, as symbolized by the triangle with rounded corners. The First Person, God the Father, is shown with arms outstretched signifying His willingness to accept anyone who wishes to follow Him through His son Jesus Christ, the Second Person in the Trinity. He offered his life to redeem mankind from sin. This is represented by the cross at the bottom of the logo. The white dove at the top symbolizes the Holy Spirit, the Third Person, who imparts love through constant guidance. All of these were integrated into the logo to show that the Blessed Trinity is a loving and caring God.

The five different colors of the logo represent the different liturgical aspects of the body of Christ. Red is for the power of God the Father, yellow for our savior and redeemer Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, white for the purity of the Blessed Trinity, blue for the blue mantel of protection of the Blessed Mary, Mother of the Church, and green for the hope and life emanating from the Blessed Trinity.