Bukas-Loob sa Diyos Catholic Charismatic Covenant Community - BLD Toronto
BLD Toronto was the first BLD Community in North America. It was formally organized in September 1990.
A few couples from BLD Manila and Hongkong immigrated to Canada in 1989 and 1990. They settled in the Metro Toronto area. By God’s design, they were able to contact each other and formed a small group of BLD immigrants. Like any other immigrants, they struggled to look for jobs, especially in 1990 when there was a recession in Canada. It was a difficult year for the new BLD immigrants, who called themselves the BLD Core Group, but they persevered in their faith and prayers. It did not occur to them at that time that they would be starting a BLD Community in Canada, but realizing the need to continue to nourish themselves with the Word of God, they met in different homes at least twice a month for prayers and living word group sessions, like what they used to do at BLD in Manila and Hongkong. Their meetings continued until the Holy Spirit moved mightily in their midst, inspiring them to start a BLD Community in Toronto.
The words of St. James in chapter 2:17, “Faith without good works is dead“, inspired them, and so deeply motivated by the Holy Spirit, the Core Group planned to have a BLD Marriage Encounter. They sent a formal letter on October 17, 1990, to the Council of Elders of BLD Manila, asking them to approve the creation of BLD Toronto. The letter was signed by 22 members of the Core Group and was subsequently supported and approved by the Council of Elders.
On March 26, 1991, the then Archbishop Ambrozic of Toronto approved the request of BLD Toronto for its first Marriage Encounter (ME) Weekend. Recruitment of candidates and preparation for the ME followed, and the first ME took place on August 16-18, 1991. The founder of BLD, Fr. Pascual Adorable, together with Sonny & Bai De Los Reyes and Rico/Telly Agcaoili, composed the the ME Pastoral Team members. Thirty (30) couples, one (1) widow and one (1) priest attended the spirit-filled ME Weekend. A week after the ME, a Life in the Spirit Seminar (LSS) No. 1 with 90 participants was conducted, so more members were added to the Community.
After the LSS, the Council of Elders of BLD Manila organized the structure of the growing BLD Toronto Community. On January 8, 1992, the first Tricord (3 couple leaders) of BLD Toronto were appointed, namely Pat/Rose Canlas, Manny/Bessie Gorospe and Robert/Cely Kitane. Mars and Fanny Quimson were appointed as the first Community Shepherds.
Most of those who joined the Marriage Encounter were young couples in their 40’s and a few elderly couples. Recruitment of couples for the ME was so intense that in the following two years (1992 & 1993), two MEs each year were conducted. In three years, the BLD membership grew to more than 200 active members. The BLD name spread like wildfire in the Toronto area.
In 1992, Andy and Belle Escano, Core Group members of BLD Toronto, moved to New York. In August of the same year, together with two other couples, one from BLD Manila and another from BLD Hongkong, planned and sponsored ME-1 for Newark, New Jersey – with the help of BLD Toronto. This was followed by an LSS also supported by members of BLD Toronto.
In the next three years, BLD Toronto reached out to more mission fields in Canada and the United States. So, in October 1995, through the guidance of the Head Servant Leader, Sonny De Los Reyes, a joint planning conference of Toronto and Newark took place in Bath, New York. Subsequently, outreaches of Toronto and Newark grew in numbers, with more members joining the BLD Community.
The Lord blessed abundantly the work of the hands of the small Core Group who started BLD Toronto in 1990. The various BLD Communities in North America continue to be active in their respective mission work in bringing more and more people closer to the Lord, and in pursuing the mission that the Lord entrusted to them; “Go and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit; teach them of all the things I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Currently, BLD Toronto has conducted 44 Marriage Encounters, 21 Family Encounters, 22 Single Encounters, 18 Solo Parents Encounters and 21 Youth Encounters, 37 Life in the Spirit Seminars and one (1) Virtual Life in the Spirit Seminar, and 19 Youth Life in the Spirit Seminars.