Focus on the family
Encounter of representatives of "Couples for Christ" with a Schoenstatt delegation in Schoenstatt, April 28, 2003
SCHOENSTATT, mkf. "It was such an enriching experience, there's so much we share and have in common," Christel Heger said a couple of days after she had met with representatives of "Couples for Christ" from the Philippines and Germany, on April 28, 2003, in Schoenstatt. During the three hours of the encounter, the participants from both Movements found the focus on the family as one of the strongest uniting bonds. The Saturday before, a small delegation of Schoenstatt members had participated in the Beneficiary Concert for the launching of "ANCOP Germany", the Movement's Social Partnership Foundation, in Bad Homburg near Frankfurt.
Father Günther Boll, Spiritual Assistant of the Institute of Schoenstatt
Families, Father Dr. Lothar Penners, Movement Director of Germany, Bernhard
and Elisabeth Neiser (Institute), Käthe Becker, and the Kraus family
(Federation), Christel and Dietmar Heger (League), and Sr. Kornelia (Press
Office) welcomed the delegation of Couples for Christ coming from Frankfurt
at the Original Shrine. Dr. Joe and Dra. Mila Yamamoto, Head of the Medical
Missions Foundation and member of the National
In the Original Shrine: A Covenant that creates a family
The encounter of the two Movements was entrusted to the Blessed Mother, the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt, in the place of grace that is the cradle both of Schoenstatt as an Ecclesial Movement as a place of pilgrimage, multiplied today in over 170 Shrines in world. In addition, there are the many wayside shrines, there are the innumerable home shrines. Since 1950, with the beginning of the Pilgrim MTA Campaign, Mary, the Mother Thrice Admirable, is setting out from the Shrine, enfolding a New Visitation, bringing the graces from the Shrine to the ends of the earth. Some nodded - the Pilgrim MTA is known!
The Covenant of Love - with Mary, with the Triune God, with each other, with all peoples and nations, with the economically and spiritually poor - was presented as the key to understand Schoenstatt as a spiritual family. The "explanation" of the Original Shrine was done in prayer style, beginning with a "Hail Mary" prayed by all those who were present. Like already during the preparatory meeting, not many words were needed to find common ground, common mission, common love for Christ and Mary, and responsibility for the new evangelization starting with the families.
A Lay Spirituality - A Network of committed Christian families
In the Shrine of the Families, Father Günther Boll presented Schoenstatt's lay spirituality, emphasizing on the home shrines, and the idea of building "islands" of Christian marriages. "I liked that," one of the members of Couples for Christ commented later - it was so easy to understand for us, coming from islands, the Philippines are a country consisting of many, many bigger and small islands!" The net with the many pictures of home shrines in the Shrine of the families means the same - and was another joint for the two movements.
In the House of the Family, it was then the turn of the "Couples for Christ" to present their spirituality and mission as a Christian Family Life Renewal Ministry. "Families in the Holy Spirit renewing the face of the earth," guided by this motto, they work for individual renewal, Family renewal - starting from the couple, "gradually the new life that they find in the Lord filters down to all family members", and church renewal: "As individual families are renewed, they form a network of equally committed Christian families which not only support one another but also strengthen the church of which they are members."
Those who want to join "Couples for Christ" (CFC), go through a seminar which is called a "Christian Life Program", 12 weekly meetings that present the absolute basics of Christian life, then goes on with the personal response involved in receiving Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and climaxes in helping the couples how to commit their lives in a serious way to Jesús. Those who want to join Couples for Christ, are then invited to be part of a small "household group" of 5 - 6 couples who meet weekly.
The couples who started CFC in Manila in 1981 initially met in a parish hall - until understanding that the natural environment of a family is the home, and not the parish hall!" Thus, the household groups meet on in the homes of the members. The Schoenstatt participants understood …
Building the Church of the Poor
Lunch made for good opportunities to share experiences with family renewal. In a short review, the guests from the Philippines then shared about what is so precious to each one who belongs to Couples for Christ - the social commitment, the work for the poor. As two days before ANCOP Germany had been launched, a foundation that based on the idea of partnership with the poor does not just do fundraising for the construction of houses for the poor in depressed areas, but encourages volunteer work, and tries to create solidarity in the Spirit with the poor. The Beneficiary Concert on April 26, in Bad Homburg, had highlighted this dimension of "Couples for Christ". Sr. Annetraud, spiritual assistant of the Schoenstatt Family League in Germany, Ingrid Springer, in charge of the fundraising activities for Schoenstatt Social Projects in Latin America, and Sr Kornelia had been present on that evening. Ingrid Springer: "I am still impressed with the clear message and the strong commitment that was passed on with each word, and each gesture of this night. The poor are our partners, and Christian life gains meaning and quality with the work for the poor." "God will work miracles when we believe", the song that accompanied the presentation of the housing projects, was taken seriously - and 700 active CFC members in Germany excel in order to build "German Village" for the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. "It is impressive to see such a commitment," Sr Annetraud said. "And to enjoy, at the same time, such a beautiful concert in such a special atmosphere of kindness and hospitality."
As a gift, the members of Couples for Christ gave a colorful butterfly to each participant, crafted in one of the villages of ANCOP from recycled material. A beautiful remembrance, and reminder… In the name of the Schoenstatt family movement, Bernhard Neiser gave three copies of "Family, in service of life", in German and English.
The meeting ended with a prayer for all the families of the world, and for all the poor, said by Father Penners, and the invitation to CFC to participate in the Schoenstatt Family Congress in April/May 2004.
It was a first, but sure not a last encounter of related movements.
More about "Couples for Christ" in Germany, including the Concert: http://www.cfcfrankfurt.org
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