Brief History & Updates on “What is Couples for Christ” today
Presentation at the Cluster Assembly
held at Corpus Christi Church on Sept. 17, 2016
by: Bro. Greg Parillas
(Former CFC – Canada National Director)
The very first question normally asked by someone who is not yet a member of CFC is: “ WHAT IS COUPLES FOR CHRIST”? This afternoon, please allow me to show you this brief presentation so that we will get to know more and have a better understanding about the history of CFC and what are the activities that CFC members are doing in this community.
What is Couples for Christ? It is a Christian Community in the Catholic Church established for the renewal and strengthening family life and making the love of God felt among the poor.
In our faith journey, we discover that true faith is not lived out in isolation but within community.
Building communities, that is the essence of Couples for Christ through a HOUSEHOLD.
The pastoral structure of CFC is such that every member belongs to a household composed of 4 to 7 couples, for personal and pastoral support led by a CFC leader.
As we all know: Life out there in the busy world is hard!
The father, who is the main provider, is busy at work to sustain the basic family needs. The mother whose main role is to look after the home and children may need to work as well in order to meet the family’s financial needs.
In CFC, members are blessed to belong to a household that supports each other.
In fact, the basic household is the link that binds the entire community together.
What we know of a community in CFC is a place to belong and a place of love which gives us HOPE and STRENGTH.
To encourage someone who is feeling hopeless.
To accompany those who are feeling lonely.
To give strength to those who are weak and the disheartened.
To intercede for those who need prayers. Praying for one another is part of CFC’s culture that strengthens faith and trust in God.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” Matthew 18:20.
In CFC, we believe that two or three people is all it takes to establish a Christian community, living in a community of some sort even if it is just living in Christian unity with your own spouse, is an important fundamental of the Christian Life.
Couples for Christ was established in 1981 by the “Ligaya ng Panginoon” or “Joy of the Lord”, a covenanted community in Manila, Philippines, with 16 couples.
On its tenth anniversary, CFC bannered the tagline: “FAMILIES IN THE HOLY SPIRIT RENEWING THE FACE OF THE EARTH” which has become the VISION OF CFC.
In 1993, the Family Ministries were established:
CFC Kids for Christ Ministry, aims to serve children from ages four (4) to twelve (12). The ministry is committed to mold young Christ-like leaders. The Vision and Mission of KFC is “To bring kids to the Lord and build a bright new world”..
CFC Youth for Christ Ministry aims to evangelize youth from ages thirteen (13) to twenty-one (21). The ministry molds a generation of young, passionate and Christ-centered young people.
CFC Singles for Christ, The ministry was established to cater to the needs of single men and women from 21 to 40 years of age. The pastoral care offered by the ministry, is not limited to those who are called for marriage, but includes as well those who may be considering either single blessedness or religious vocation as a state of life.
CFC Servants of the Lord (SOLD) Ministry specifically targets mature men from ages forty-one (41) and above. SOLD activities revolve around the spirit of brotherhood offering pastoral formation programs that mold its members to become “True Men of God”.
CFC Handmaids of the Lord. (HOLD) target mature women, single mothers, widows, separated/divorced women, married women whose husbands are working in another province or country and migrant workers.
And recently, CFC has adopted a new program called SENIOR’S PROGRAM, a special program designed for those members who are at least 60 years old and above.
With all those ministries and program catering to all the members of the family, CFC now has a “ WOMB to TOMB” Ministry.
CFC in Canada
CFC was established in Canada in early part of 1994. Christian Life Programs were conducted first in Vancouver, B.C. and Toronto, Ontario in February 1994.
Federal incorporation papers as a non-profit corporation were filed with the Ministry of Industry on March 31, 1994. It is this date that we commemorate as the beginnings of CFC Canada.
Evangelization spread rapidly such that CLPs were conducted in neighboring provinces, namely, Quebec, Alberta and Manitoba.
The first CLP in Edmonton was held in August 1995 with the support of CFC members from Vancouver. The first 3 couples who graduated from the first CLP in Edmonton were: Diony and Eva Tanada, Danny and Louie Dolores and Jun and Hermie Angeles. Lito and Sylvia Soco who led the first CLP in Edmonton became the first Area Leaders of CFC Edmonton. CFC members from the Philippines and the Middle East countries like Bahrain and UAE who migrated to Edmonton were integrated in the CFC community starting in 1996.
In the year 2000, Vatican recognized CFC as a private international association of the faithful and approved its statutes, for five years ad experimentum.
After 5 years of experimentation, the Vatican gave its definitive recognition of CFC as a private international association of the faithful and approved its statutes.
The Decree from Vatican granting the definitive approval was given on the 25th of April 2005 on the Feast of Saint Mark Evangelist.
With the definitive approval, Couple for Christ became one of the 122 international associations of the faithful recognized by Vatican under the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
Expanded Vision and Mission
In 2008, after a series of consultations with members, CFC adapted the expanded Vision which reads:
“Moved by the Holy Spirit, One with the Catholic Church, Blessed to witness to Christ’s love and service, CFC is a united global community of Family Evangelizers, That sets the world on fire with the Fullness of God’s transforming Love”.
“Building the Church of the Home and Building the Church of the Poor” are the two-fold missions of CFC. And the expanded version reads:
We are Couples for Christ. We are committed to live in God’s righteousness and holiness, evangelizing people through a life of love and service; we shall work for the renewal of families that will serve God and build generations of Christian leaders; and we shall pursue Total Christian Liberation through social justice, respect for life, and work with the poor.”
CFC Canada celebrated its 20th year anniversary in 2014. In Edmonton, His Grace Archbishop Richard Smith celebrated Mass at St. Joseph Basilica on October 4, 2014, concelebrated by Fr. Martin and Fr. Mike.
CFC’s evangelization in Edmonton and Mission Areas
After the first CLP in 1995, the Archdiocese of Edmonton allowed CFC to conduct Christian Life Programs in different parishes in the city and neighboring areas. CLPs were conducted in the following parishes in Edmonton: St. Andrew, St. Theresa, St. Charles, St. Agnes, St. Anthony, Annunciation, St. John Evangelist, Good Shepherd, St. Dominic Savio, St. John Bosco, St. Matthew, Corpus Christi and St. Joseph Basilica. Outside of Edmonton: Our Lady of the Angels, Fort Saskatchewan, AB; St. Anthony, Lloydminster, AB; Our Lady of the Foothills, Hinton, AB; Sacred Heart, Red Deer, AB; St. Stephen, Lacombe, AB; St. Augustine, Ponoka, AB; Our Lady of Peace, Innisfail, AB; St. Michael, Leduc, AB; St. Francis Xavier, Camrose, AB; Our Lady of Lourdes, Jasper, AB; Our Lady of the Assumption, Sylvan Lake, AB; St. Albert, AB; St. Rita, Valleyview, AB; St. Joseph, Whitecourt, AB and St. Joseph, Grande Prairie, AB.
Now, after 22 years, membership in Edmonton reached to 1,524 individuals, comprising of:
379 couples or 758 individuals
85 Singles for Christ
377 Youth for Christ
74 Kids for Christ
208 Handmaids of the Lord and 22 Servants of the Lord
Evangelization during the first half of 2016
During the first half of 2016, 11 CLPs and 2 Youth Camps were conducted in different parishes as follows:
South 1 Chapter: Corpus Christi Church and St. Michael Church in Leduc
South 2 Chapter: St. Agnes Church in Edmonton, Our Lady of Peace in Innisfail, AB, and St. Francis Xavier in Camrose, AB
North Chapter: St. Dominic Savio Church, and St. Matthew Church in Edmonton, and St. Anthony Church in Lloydminster, AB
West Chapter: Annunciation Church in Edmonton
Handmaids of the Lord: St. Andrew Church in Edmonton
Singles For Christ: St. Theresa Church in Edmonton
Youth for Christ: 2 Youth camps held at Camp Nakamun and at Malhurst, AB
From those 11 CLPs and 2 Youth Camps, a total of 153 new members joined CFC community.
In this picture, it shows the CLP at St. Dominic Savio Church where 25 new members from different background and culture finished the CLP on May 2016. CFC promotes the Multi-Culture Evangelization and Missions Program.
The Handmaids of the Lord conducted its CLP at St. Andrew Church in March 2016.
Continuing Faith Formation
The Christian Life is intended to be a continuing process of spiritual growth.
After the CLP, CFC provides continuing formation to members including many teaching courses and retreats like Financial Stewardship, Marriage Enrichment Retreat 1 and 2, Evangelization Training, Spiritual Gifts, Foundations for Christian Living, Christian Personal Relationships, Fruits of the Holy Spirit, and many more.
On Sept. 3 & 4, 2016, 8 couples completed their Marriage Enrichment Retreat 2 at the Providence Renewal Centre, Edmonton. And this coming November, 2016, Marriage Enrichment Retreat no. 1 will be given to those new members of the CFC Community at Providence Renewal Centre. Prospective participants are encouraged to register early. You can view our Website: cfc-edmonton.ca for more information.
CFC members are formed to love the poor.
Members share their financial blessings to others by sponsoring poor children to go to school: elementary, high school and college and by giving donations to ANCOP or ANSWERING THE CRY OF THE POOR, to be used for the construction of decent homes for the homeless families in developing countries.
The biggest annual fundraising event of CFC for the poor is the ANCOP Walk where members solicit donations to enable poor children in developing countries to go to elementary, high school and college. ANCOP brings hope to the poor and restores their dignity and provides homes to the homeless families.
CFC ANCOP Canada led the fundraising campaign for the construction of 400 homes which is called “Pope Francis ANCOP Canada Community in Palo, Leyte in Partnership with the Archdiocese of Palo, Leyte and SM Cares. The 400 houses were awarded last April 2016 to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the strongest typhoon that hit the Philippines 3 years ago.
CFC has a Gift of Life Ministry. The goal of the Ministry is to form and educate men and women to be empowered evangelizers proclaiming the Gospel of life and building the culture of life.
CFC Edmonton members have supported various gift of life advocacies in the following events:
1) 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil infront of the Abortion Clinic where CFC members took turn in praying the rosary from 8 AM to 6 PM on a particular day of the week with the hope that those mothers who are planning to abort their baby may change their decision and instead, take care of the unborn child.
2) CFC Music Ministry serves in the Alberta March for Life for the longest time initially in front of the Legislature Building then transferred to Sir Winston Churchill’s Square in front of the City Hall.
3) CFC members join other Pro-lifers in the annual Life Chain held every first Sunday of October in the downtown area.
Migrant Workers Program
CFC Supports the Migrant Workers Program. We believe that migrants and their families must be integrated in the life of the church and supported through pastoral plan. Every summer time, CFC invites foreign contract workers in Edmonton to join the annual picnic and fellowship at the Laurier Park and invite them to attend Information Programs and join the Christian Life Program.
Other major events that CFC and Its Family Ministries had during the first half of 2016:
1) Some 200 members of our CFC Youth for Christ in Edmonton joined the Alberta Regional Conference in Calgary on April 23 & 24, 2016 where Bishop Henry celebrated Mass.
2) On May 21 and 22, 2016, the Singles For Christ Regional Conference was held at the Aldergrove School in Edmonton. Around 200 SFCs from the different cities in Alberta joined the event where Fr. Dean Dowle celebrated Mass.
3) The CFC HOLD Mariam Conference with the theme: JOY OF MARY was held at St. Theresa Church on June 11, 2016.
4) The CFC Edmonton Annual Family and Sports Day was held at the Coronation Park Westmount, Edmonton, on July 9, 2016.
5) In support of the church Building Fund, CFC Edmonton organized a “Summer Garage Sale” at the Parking lot of Corpus Christi Church.
6) CFC Music Ministry also organized the first LIVE2WORSHIP Concert on February 28, 2016 at the St. Theresa Church Hall to raise funds for the Building Fund of Corpus Christi Church.
7) CFC Edmonton also helped organize the “Rise Up” concert held at the McDougal Church to raise funds for the renovation of the Annunciation church.
The CFC has become an instrument in promoting vocations. Currently, two members of the Singles For Christ in Edmonton are studying at the Joseph Seminary and Newman Theological College here in Edmonton. They are: Jessie Baris and Sedney Polinar.
- Diaconate Formation program: In Edmonton, Ramon Morales, from the CFC South Chapter, is now on his 3rd year in the Diaconate Formation.
Called To Protect Training
In order to comply with the Archdiocese policy, we requested Ms. Lucy Kaakyo of the Archdiocese Pastoral Centre to conduct the “Called To Protect Training” to our leaders and members. The training was held at St. Agnes Church in August 2016.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, God has raised up Couples for Christ so that we in turn, would rise up in defense of His work. So, let us answer God’s call in building strong, vibrant, living Christian communities through our evangelization works in Couples for Christ.
As the 2016 CFC theme exhorts: Let us REJOICE, PRAY and GIVE THANKS! Phil. 4:4-7
Bro. Greg Parillas
Former CFC Canada – National Director