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Couples for Christ. (Lay Movements XXI).

Couples for Christ (CFC), has a mission of Christian family renewal and global evangelization, with a comprehensive array of interconnected family and social ministries. The basic cells are small prayer groups, with well organized local and regional governance. "Womb to tomb ministry," a local organizer calls it!

CFC started in Manila in the Philippines in 1981. Sixteen couples engaged in the Charismatic renewal decided to come together to learn how to live the Gospel in a family setting. For the first twelve years, CFC was devoted to renewing the lives of married couples, even though unmarried people were eagerly inquiring about getting involved.

In 1993, on the twelfth anniversary of the movement, the leaders discerned that the time had come to expand the areas of ministry into all walks of life, as well as moving out on the international scene. By 2002, CFC was in 96 countries with more than a million-and-a-half members, youth, married, single. This does not include children. "We counted the Kids for Christ at over a million; we love that group! Count them in!" urged a Toronto elder.

Evangelization teams go to parishes with the permission of the priest and bishop to conduct the Christian Life Program with interested parishioners. The meeting begins with praise and worship. A series of teachings, based on Scripture and followed by small group discussions, is designed to lead the participants into deeper, more committed life in Christ, with a focus on family life. The series includes praying with the participants for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and culminates in the participants making a covenant with God by joining CFC if they choose.

Parish-based small groups of CFC are then formed. People are invited to join a household group that meets in participants' homes on a rotating basis. There is a household head who is treated like an older brother and is servant to all. He in turn belongs to a group composed of household heads that is guided by an experienced spiritual leader.

"No one of us moves alone," explains a local leader. "Jesus sent them out in twos. And likewise, no one makes a decision alone. There are internal and external checks and balances in CFC."

Sonny Bautista, CFC Communications Director in Toronto advises, "We defend the Magisterium and are behind the Pope. When the bishop calls, we are always there, ready to follow and help." This has been illustrated recently by their enthusiastic response to volunteer with World Youth Day and the Toronto Archbishop's ShareLife Campaign.

CFC-Youth for Christ is for teens. They have regular weekly meetings with several household groups coming together for worship, then in small household groups for discussions. CFC Singles for Christ is for single men and women ages 21 to 40. Here young people find Christ and His love and strength even as they struggle in our competitive, secular workplace. Many beautiful Christian marriages have started here.

Handmaids of the Lord is for separated or divorced women, single parents, those with a husband who is handicapped or working overseas, widows, and unmarried mature singles. They have a special ministry of intercession and with Kids for Christ. Servants of the Lord are male military workers, overseas contract workers, single parents (widowed, separated, divorced), unmarried mature single men, married men with wives working overseas or physically incapacitated. These men are committed to developing a personal and loving relationship with the Lord, ready to fight for His Kingdom.

In recent years CFC has developed a variety of social ministries that work toward sustainable community development, building homes, establishing schools, and teaching catechism, as well as sending medical missionaries to needy areas, especially in the Philippines.

There are CFC groups in most major centres across Canada. Teams are now ready to go to New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Newfoundland. CFC has been introduced to First Nations people and there are plans to go to Inuit parishes in the Territories. Canadian teams have established CFC in four African nations.

To find out more contact Simeon Federigan, Toronto CFC office, (416) 321-1937 from Tuesday to Friday, 10:00 a.m. To 7:00 p.m. Saturday from 9:00-12:00. International website:
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Author:Wilson, Ann
Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:May 1, 2003
Previous Article:Poverty: a bias toward exaggeration.
Next Article:Famille Solitude Myriam. (Lay Movements XXI).

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