NOTE: The African Maryknoll seminarians who have studied, and are presently studying, Spanish in Cochabamba, Bolivia have requested material on the CEBs in Latin America. Here are some of the many names used:
CEBs (Comunidades Eclesiales de Base) – official Spanish name in most countries in Latin America).
BEC (Base Ecclesial Communities). Sometimes written as Ecclesial Base Communities.
BEC (Basic Ecclesial Communities).
BCs (Base Communities) – sometimes written as Comunidades de Base.
PCCs (Pequeñas Comunidades Cristo) – more common in Spain.
These books and articles are in both Spanish and English and are taken from the “Select Annotated Bibliography of Books, Booklets, Articles, Reports, Papers and Printed Materials and Other Resources including Online Digital Resources” in the free, online Ebook Joseph Healey, Building the Church as Family of God: Evaluation of Small Christian Communities in Eastern Africa, Eldoret: AMECEA Gaba Publications – CUEA Press Double Spearhead Nos. 199-200 (Print Version 2012 and 1st Reprint 2014). 163 pages. The Online Digital Version, regularly revised and updated from the 2012 print version, is available as a free, online Ebook containing 1,122 pages as of 22 March2 March, 2020 on the Small Christian Communities Global Collaborative Website:
Azevado, Marcello, Basic Ecclesial Communities in Brazil, Washington, DC: Georgetown
University Press, 1987.
A thorough investigation of the “fascinating reality of Brazilian Basic Ecclesial Communities.” The book is geared to the academic.
Boff, Leonardo, Ecclesiogenesis: The Base Communities Reinvent the Church, Maryknoll,
NY: Orbis Books, 1986.
It is generally agreed that the CEBs/BEC Model of Church started with the CEBs in Barra do Pirai Diocese, Brazil in 1956. The language was Portuguese. Leonardo Boff traces their beginning to the lament of a humble old lady [called the ‘Rosa Parks of CEBs’] so her words may be among the most momentous uttered in church history. “Christmas Eve,” she complained, “all three Protestant Churches were lit up and full of people…and the Catholic Church closed and dark!…Because we can’t get a priest.” The question naturally arose why everything should come to a standstill simply because there was no priest. This led to an initiative by Brazilian Bishop Agnelo Rossi, Bishop of Barra do Pirai Diocese in the Metropolitan of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to launch a community catechetical/evangelization movement in Barra do Parai out of which small communities [CEBs] eventually emerged.
Cardinal, Ernesto, The Gospel in Solentiname, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2010.
Collection of commentaries on the Christian gospels composed by Ernesto Cardenal that were made by a group of peasants in Solentiname. For many years, the peasants in Solentiname, a remote archipelago in Lake Nicaragua, gathered each Sunday in a type of CEB to reflect on the gospel reading. From recordings of their dialogue, this extraordinary document was composed. First published in the 1970s in four volumes, it was immediately acclaimed as a classic expression of liberation theology and a radical reading of the Good News of Jesus from the perspective of the poor and oppressed. Forty years later, now available in one volume, The Gospel in Solentiname retains its freshness and power.
Cook, Guillermo, The Expectation of the Poor: Latin American Base Ecclesial Communities in
Protestant Perspective, Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004.
Healey, Joseph, “Basic Christian Communities in Africa and in Latin America,” African
Ecclesial Review (AFER), Vol. 26. No 4 (August, 1984), ATLA Religion Database
Website, retrieved on 10 June, 2015,
Healey, Joseph, “Basic Christian Communities: Church-Centered or World-Centered?”
Missionalia, 14: 1 (April, 1986).
Case studies of a CEB/BCC in Chile and SCCs in Kenya and Tanzania. In comparing the Latin America and Eastern African experiences some clear differences emerge, but they can learn a great deal from each other and mutually enrich the World Church.
Healey, Joseph, Building the Church as Family of God: Evaluation of Small Christian
Communities in Eastern Africa, Eldoret: AMECEA Gaba Publications – CUEA Press
Double Spearhead Nos. 199-200 (Print Version 2012 and 1st Reprint 2014). 163 pages. The Online Digital Version, regularly revised and updated from the 2012 print version, is available as a free, online Ebook containing 1,122 pages as of 20 March2 March, 2020 on the Small Christian Communities Global Collaborative Website,
Contains important historical information on the starting point of the modern SCCs or CEBs. Marco Moerschbacher states: “Neither from the time of the Second Vatican Council nor from Latin America comes the oldest option of a local church for what is called today Christian Base Community (see HK, December 2012, 609 ff and March 2012, 128 ff.) The oldest is rather the option of the Congolese Episcopal Conference at its plenary meeting in 1961 — historically between the independence (1960) of the former Belgian colony and the opening of the Second Vatican Council (1962). The first Brazilian Pastoral Plan dates back to 1962, covering 1962-1965. You will find some indications in Leonardo Boff, The Base Communities Reinvent the Church, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York 1986, page 3-4. Another reference would be the article of José Marins on “Basic Ecclesial Communities in Latin America,” published in Concilium 1975 (we only have the German version). He also points to the first experiences in the 1950s which eventually led to the pastoral plan.”
Healey, Joseph (compiled), Once Upon a Time in Africa: Stories of Wisdom and Joy, Maryknoll,
N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004. Spanish translation published by Spanish Publisher in Spain. ADD
Healey, Joseph. “Evolving A World Church from the Bottom Up: An Analysis and
Interpretation of 3,500 Different Names, Titles, Terms, Expressions, Descriptions and
Meanings for and about Small Christian Communities/Basic Christian Communities
in the World with 11 Case Studies from Six Continents,” Background Paper for the
International Consultation on “Rediscovering Community — International Perspectives,” University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, USA, 8-12 December, 1991, Notre Dame: Privately printed, 1991, 33 pages. Sections of the paper are published in:
Joseph Healey, MM, “Twelve Case Studies of Small Christian Communities in Eastern Africa,” Radoli, Agatha (ed.), How Local is the Local Church? Small Christian Communities and Church in Eastern Africa, Eldoret: AMECEA Gaba Publications, Spearhead 126-128, 1993. pp. 59-103.
The newsletter of Latin American/North American Church Concerns (LANACC).
It is presumed that these names refer to small apostolic groups, not just small groups. We purposely avoided the broader and more generic name “small groups” by itself that is used in so many different ways in North America today. We did not research the many types of Small Prayer Groups, Small Self-help Groups and Small Support Groups because they are outside the specific meaning and purpose of Small Christian Communities. Our research did not specifically treat the many names in other Christian Churches including the Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches. We did not have the opportunity to document some of the many names used in the fast growing Hispanic Catholic Churches. Small Christian Communities (SCCs) is an umbrella term used in this list and is the most common name worldwide.
NOTE: This research was informally updated in 2015 to include over 5,000 entries with many new Names, Titles, Terms, Expressions, Descriptions and Meanings added. This expresses the rich diversity of this new way of being/becoming church.
Healey, Joseph, “Let the Basic Christian Communities Speak: Some Pastoral Theological
Reflections on Portezuelo, Chile and Beyond,” Missiology: An International Review,
Vol. XI, No. I, (January, 1983),
Available in different online versions:
The Basic Christian Community is a growing phenomenon in the Christian Churches today especially in the Roman Catholic Church. Basic Christian Communities (hereafter referred to as BCCs) are variously called Basic Ecclesial Communities, Small Christian Communities, and Popular Christian Communities with different shades of meaning. This article begins with some pastoral theological reflections on the BCCs in Latin America, specifically in the Roman Catholic Parish of Portezuela in Chillan, Chile. The particular experience of Tanzania is introduced to compare the BCCs in Latin America and Africa.
Healey, Joseph and Jeanne Hinton (eds.), Small Christian Communities Today: Capturing the
New Moment, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2005 (Second Printing 2006, New Cover
2014); Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2006 (1st Reprint 2011, 2rd Reprint
2012, 3rd Reprint 2017); and Bangalore: Claretian Publications, 2006. Available as an
Ebook on Amazon (for Kindle), Amazon Website, retrieved 20 March, 2020
Google, Google Books Website, retrieved 20 March, 2020,
There are five chapters on the Latin America continent: Bolivia, El Salvador-Chile, Cuba, Mexico and Latin America in general.
Lobinger, Fritz “What SCCs and CEBs Can Learn from Each Other,” East Asian Pastoral
Marina Alejandro, “Como Las Pequeñas Comunidades Cristianas Africanas, Implementan La
Pastoral y Visión Misionera Del Vaticano II,” Spanish translation of Joseph Healey,
“How African Small Christian Communities Implement the Pastoral and Missionary
Vision of Vatican II,” Small Christian Communities Global Collaborative Website,
retrieved on 15 March, 2020,
Marina, Alejandro, “Comunidades Eclesiales de Base — CEBs in Argentina,” Small Christian
Communities Global Collaborative Website, retrieved 15 March, 2020, https://smallchristiancommunities.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Comunidades.pdf
The Spanish is Las Comunidades Eclesiales de Base en Argentina, Small Christian Communities Global Collaborative Website, retrieved 15 March, 2020, https://smallchristiancommunities.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/CEBs.pdf
Marins, José, Basic Ecclesial Community: Church from the Roots (Quito: Colegio Tecnico
Don Bosco, 1979.
Key book on CEBs in Latin America. Explains the valuable distinction that Comunidades Eclesiales de Base (CEBs)/Basic Ecclesial Communities/Small Christian Communities “are not a Movement in the Catholic Church, but the Church on the Move.” Marins states: “The BEC is the whole church in a concentrated form. Or to put it another way, it is a germ or a seed which has within itself all the essential elements of the Church of Jesus.” Marins identifies five features or components central to the CEBs dynamic in Latin America: Prayer; Reflection on Reality; Discernment and Decision; Action [Mission]; and Celebration. In his research Marins has the insight that you cannot compare and contrast the CEBs in Latin America country by country. The diversity is too great. You have to evaluate diocese by diocese, for example, Mexico.
Moriarty, Robert K., An Experience of World Church in Miniature: A Report on the 1999
International Consultation on Small Christian Communities Cochabamba, Bolivia,
November 1-6, 1999, Hartford: Pastoral Department for Small Christian
Communities, March, 2001.
Muiño, Marcos, “Muchos Grupos O Pocas Comunidades? Hacia Una Síntesis Eclesial de
Base por la Justicia y la Paz,” Small Christian Communities Global Collaborative
Website, retrieved 15 March, 2020, https://smallchristiancommunities.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cebs_argentina.pdf
Nunes, José, Pequenas Comunidades Cristãs: o Ondjanco e a Inculturação em África/
Angola, Monografia, Porto, Portugual: Univ. Católica Portuguesa: 1991. (Portuguese).
Padila, Estela, “SCCs in Africa, Latin America and Asia and their Reception of Vatican II,
“Manilla: Unpublished Paper 2014.
Pelton, Robert S., From Power to Communion: Toward a New Way of Being Church Based on
the Latin American Experience, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1994.
Pelton, Robert S. (ed.), Small Christian Communities: Imagining Future Church. Notre
Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997.
Small Christian Communities (SCCs) Global Collaborative Website
The section under “Latin America” has articles on Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador and Peru. The section under “North America” has articles on Cuba, Mexico and the United States of America.
Rev. Joseph G. Healey, MM
P.O. Box 43058
00100 Nairobi, Kenya
0723-362-993 (Safaricom, Kenya)
973-216-4997 (AT&T, USA)
WhatsApp: 1+ 973-216-4997
20 March, 2020