MANILA, June 28, 2011?Members of the Couples for Christ worldwide got a boost in their anniversary celebration on June 26 with no less than the Vatican sending its assurance of prayers for the success of their mission.
Pope Benedict XVI sent his Apostolic Blessing on the associationâ€™s 30th anniversary through Secretary of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone.
Stanislaw Card. Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, noted the importance of the event, and expressed hope that the association would continue to â€œhelp those called to the sacrament of marriage to be faithful witnesses of the Gospel and to the magisterium of the Church.â€
The Vaticanâ€™s message was read to the crowd by Msgr. GÃ¡bor PintÃ©r, ChargÃ© dâ€™ Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature.
An estimated crowd of about a hundred thousand gathered at the Rizal Park on June 26 to celebrate the Couples for Christ Global Mission Foundationâ€™s 30th (pearl) anniversary.
Themed â€œThe Pearl of Great Priceâ€, CFC emphasized the importance of what the association had discovered 30 years ago: Jesus Christ is truly the Pearl of Great Price.
Despite flooding brought about by recent heavy rains in certain parts of Metro Manila and other parts of the country, CFC pushed through with their anniversary celebrations at the Park, confident that God would answer their prayers for good weather. The prayers were indeed answered as the good weather held until the very last part of the program.
A huge delegation of non-Filipino CFC members came from many parts of the world and joined the crowd that began to gather at the Rizal Park as early as 8:00 am, eager to be united as one global family in celebration.
Various activities leading to the main event began on June 19 with a bowling tournament, followed by a golf tournament on June 21.
On June 22, a global summit of all leaders, the Church Integration (formerly Clergy-Lay) Congress and the ANCOP (CFCâ€™s Work with the Poor) were held.
Election of the new set of International Council and Board of Elders was held on June 23, and the Freedom to Love Conference, on June 25.
On June 26, the main anniversary celebrations started with the traditional worship followed by welcome remarks by CFC International Family Ministries Head and newly re-elected CFC International Council member Melo Villaroman Jr.
The annual parade of colors kicked off at 3 pm participated in by thousands of members and leaders, and ended at 5 pm.
Renowned Theology of the Body speaker and Catholic lay preacher Christopher West, who had also given talks at CFCâ€™s Church Integration Congress and Freedom to Love Conference, gave a short inspirational talk.
West encouraged CFC to not only rejoice at Godâ€™s goodness throughout these 30 years, but also to look at how Blessed John Paul IIâ€™s Theology of the Body could further deepen and strengthen the faith of its members.
Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles led the Eucharistic celebration together with 7 foreign and 46 Filipino bishops, 12 Monsignori and 158 priests representing 42 countries and the 86 ecclesiastical territories in the Philippines.
The foreign bishops were Archbishop Nicholas Chia of Singapore, Bishop Denis Wiehe of Seychelles, Bishop Francis Daw Tang of Myanmar, Bishop Yeboah Nyarko of Ghana, Bishop Paul Ssemogerere of Uganda, Bishop Hillary Okeke of Nigeria, and Bishop Rufin Anthony.
Arguelles exhorted CFC to â€œput on the full armor of God,â€ reminding them that Mary, our Mother, is one with us in the battle. He likened CFCâ€™s turning 30 to the life of Jesus Himself, who started his public life only at the age of 30, and encouraged the brethren to incorporate Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, in their family life.
The archbishop prayed over the newly-elected CFC International (IC) members and their wives.
Joe Tale, a member of the IC, acknowledged the presence of the Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Catholic Community, CFCâ€™s â€œmotherâ€ community led by Fr. Herb Schneider, SJ.
Ligaya ng Panginoon was instrumental in establishing CFC in 1981. (Tina Rodriguez/CBCPNews)