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Clergy and CFC: Companions in the Journey
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

LAST June 21, 2017, Couples for Christ sector leaders from Metro Manila, Philippine Missions and International Missions sat down with about a hundred clergy representing their respective archdiocese or diocese in various parts of the country for the Clergy- Lay Congress. The Congress is a bi-annual activity of CFC, timed to coincide with the annual week-long anniversary celebration of CFC.


The 2017 Congress was held at the PICC Forum Tent, Pasay City. The congress began with opening worship led by Arnel Sacris, Provincial Area Director of CFC Cebu and Country Coordinator of CFC Palau.


Rouquel Ponte, CFC Church Relations Office Director, gave the opening remarks titled “Companions in the Journey” to emphasize the importance of both the clergy and lay working together to address the present realities in churches today. He focused on three things that will lead CFC to the pathway of discipleship according to Pope Francis:

  1. Walk with Jesus or have an encounter with Him;
  2. Bring this encounter into one’s day to day living especially as one relates with the other (within the family and with the bigger community); and
  3. Be a witness to everyone so that every encounter would be an encounter with Jesus Christ.


“One encounter with the Lord can be a life-changing experience because it is how we find ourselves journeying unto the Father’s house,” Ponte emphasized.


He went on to give three more reminders on how CFC can truly accept God’s change and transformation within oneself:

  1. Open more space in one’s daily life so that the Lord can come in, make His presence felt, and make the encounter more impactful;
  2. Relish the experience by thanking Him for even just allowing a brief moment of that encounter; and
  3. Be on fire from the love of the Lord and on fire for sharing that love with others.


“Let us take to heart what our Lord has truly brought forth, that we may become one in the Father and in the Church, pursuing our own task of making this journey to be a communion of communities,” Ponte concluded.


The main speaker, His Eminence Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier, O.F.M. of the Archdiocese of Durban, South Africa, spoke about being a community serving humanity. The prelate shared two important realities in the Church and Church leadership—Collegiality and Synodiality.


His Eminence explained, “Collegiality means working together as a group, all of whom are equally committed to fulfill what the Lord wants them to do. Synodiality, on the other hand, means walking the journey of faith together.”


Cardinal Napier talked about the challenges that the Church has to look at, such as how to strengthen the sacrament of marriage and address those who marry after being divorced. He encouraged Couples for Christ to look at these challenges more closely as it is a community deeply involved in family renewal.


“We will not have any impact in society if we do not have strong and healthy families. We will not have strong and healthy families if we do not have strong and healthy marriages. We will not have strong and healthy marriages if we do not have good and proper preparation for marriage,” he exhorted.


Most Rev. Pablo Virgilio David, Bishop of the Diocese of Kalookan, followed with a sharing on “Communion of Communities and Clergy – Lay Collaboration.” He went on to discuss the two possible ways that affect the Church: Parochialism and Clericalism.


Bishop David warned the laity of the unexpected dangers of these ideologies that can lead someone astray from the true mission of the Church. He urged the delegates to actively participate in their parishes.


“The laity are not just onlookers. The laity are not just quiet observers. Now we insist on fellowship, on communion, on oneness with Christ,” Bishop David said.


The bishop also included in his message that all of the faithful share in the three–fold mission of Christ: to be priest, prophet and king.


“We are called not only to be the community of the saved, but also to be the saving community,” he concluded.


Joe Tale, CFC Chairman, responded to the messages by encouraging all ecclesial movements to strengthen their efforts for evangelization especially those for the family ministry. He reminded the participants about the main points of the messages:

  1. To form young people to effective maturity and the vocation of marriage from adolescence or even earlier, from childhood;
  2. To use one’s creativity to determine plans on marriage preparation, in accordance with the Pope’s desire of matrimonial catechumenate to the fiancées;
  3. To accompany young people in the early years of marriage;
  4. To care for the permanent formation of the spouses and the entire family; and
  5. To support, help and counsel couples in difficulty.


“We are not CFC just for CFC. We must get out of where we are to evangelize, to share thegoodness of the Lord with others and to help strengthen families even if they do not becomeformally members of CFC,” Tale remarked.


Ruel Aguirre, Head of the CFC Institute, led the participants into the workshop where they were asked several questions on how they can further improve their evangelization strategies in their respective areas.


The celebration of Holy Mass, presided by His Eminence Wilfrid Cardinal Napier and concelebrated by His Excellency the Most Rev. Buenaventura Famadico, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of San Pablo, both of whom were also delegates to the Congress, was a most fitting conclusion to the fruitful Congress. (Christina Quiambao)




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