When the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines was established in 1945, one of the first Episcopal Commissions to be set up was the ECERI, or the Episcopal Commission on Education and Religious Instruction, a body in charge of the Catechetical Ministry and Catholic Education at the national level. In 1988, its name was changed to Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education (ECCCE) with the specific purpose of giving greater emphasis to Catechesis.
Brief History of ECCCE
This Commission began to exist in 1945 as one of the departments of the Catholic Welfare Organization, the forerunner of the CBCP, under the name Episcopal Commission on Education and Religious Instruction (ECERI).
Alongside this Commission, the bishops had also set up a Commission on Catechetical Texts which was placed under the leadership of Archbishop Jose Ma. Cuenco from 1945 to 1950. In 1966 this Commission was integrated into the ECERI.
In 1984, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines approved the establishment of the National Catechetical Office of the Philippines (NCOP) as a branch of ECERI in charge of its researches and publications.
In 1988, the name of the Commission was changed to Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education (ECCCE). This change was prompted by the desire to lay greater emphasis on catechesis, one of the two areas of responsibility of the Commission. The second area is education, especially Catholic education.
As the central catechetical agency on the national level the ECCCE is assisted by the Advisory Council for the Ministry of Catechesis (ACMC) comprised of representatives from various regions and from selected catechetical centers.
In fulfillment of its role as the supervisory over the catechetical ministry and Catholic education, ECCCE was able to accomplish the following before the turn of the new century:
- The preparation and publication of “Maturing in Christian Faith,” the National Catechetical Directory containing principles and guidelines for the catechetical ministry in the Philippines (1979-83).
- The holding of a national survey on the implementation of the constitutional provision on religious instruction in public schools (1988);
- The organization of the National Catechetical Year which culminated in the convening of the National Catechetical Congress (1990);
- The preparation of the Catechists’ Basic Formation Program (1991);
- The holding of a national survey on the catechetical situation in the public schools (1992);
- The holding of several national catechetical conventions in Manila and other cities throughout the country;
- The preparation and publication of a National Catechism under the titles “Catechism for Filipino Catholics” and “Katesismo para sa mga Pilipinong Katoliko,” both in complete and abridged editions (1984-2000);
- The publication of the Philippine edition of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (1994);
- The publication of the quarterly catechetical review Docete, the official information and formation organ of the ECCCE;
- The organization and launching of the Phil-CARE Foundation, an institution that aims to provide catechetical materials as well as logistic and moral assistance to all Catechists and religion Teachers, especially those who teach in public schools.
Functions of ECCCE
The work of ECCCE, in addition to its responsibility regarding Catholic formal education, is to assist and serve the dioceses regarding all aspects of the catechetical ministry nationwide, including new trends, new programs and materials, improved training programs, etc. (GDC 269) ECCCE maintains listings of the current catechetical institutes nationwide, and is involved in evaluating catechetical materials and religious education textbooks and various catechetical projects. Most present catechetical research is carried on in view of graduate schools’ academic requirements, and hence must be adapted for responding creatively to the pastoral needs of the Christian communities throughout the Philippines. (Rev. NCDP, 477)
The ECCCE supervises the National Catechetical Office of the Philippines (NCOP), which is responsible for catechetical publications, and makes studies and recommendations for the promotion of an effective Campus Ministry.
Below are the main functions of the commission:
- To constitute the Catechetical Agency on the national level, assisted by the Advisory Council for the Ministry of Catechesis (ACMC) composed of representatives from various regions and selected Catechetical Centers;
- To assist and serve the Dioceses principally as an information Center regarding Catechetical developments;
- To supervise the National Catechetical Office of the Philippines;
- To make the necessary studies and recommendations to the Conference on Ecclesiastical Decrees affecting Catholic education in the Philippines, as well as on related policies and legislations of the State;
- To coordinate with Catholic Educational Associations in the Philippines, on matters affecting the promotion and development of the apostolic ministry of education; and
- To serve as liaison office with the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) in all that concerns the common good of Catholic schools specially poor ones.