Catholics in the Archdiocese of Blantyre last Sunday welcomed three Indian missionaries of Couples for Christ Ministry. Our reporter WATIPASO MZUNGU JNR finds out from Anthony Edwin Correia, a member of the ministry on what it stands for.
Welcome to the Warm Heart of Africa. I hope you’ve already started experiencing the warmth of our friendliness.
The three of us; our youth missionary Stephanie D’Souza, my wife Maria and I are happy to be in Malawi. Upon touching down on January 20 2014 we experienced deep joy, which was compounded with the very warm welcome received from the airport, the Christian community here, starting with His Lordship Bishop Montfort Stima and Limbe Cathedral Parish.
Briefly, tell me the background of Couples for Christ.
It is a worldwide movement that started in 1981 in Manila, Philippines and has grown into a holistic family life renewal ministry for married couples and every member of the family. Officially, we are known as Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life (CFCFFL).
What is the mission of this movement and how does it operate?
Its mission is evangelisation, renewal and strengthening of families according to the mind of God as revealed by Christ and His church. It brings together men and women who are committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and to one another in faith so that they may grow in Christian perfection, transforming their families to find fulfillment in Christ Jesus and be instruments of God’s saving love to all people.
CFCFFL seeks to be a base for evangelisation – bringing the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ to families who have not heard of it or are not fully alive to it.
There are many forces in the world today that would wittingly or unwittingly destroy the very foundations of the family. Thus, God raised up CFCFFL as a gift of the Spirit to the Church, to defend and strengthen the family. It is called to bring the Lord’s strength and light to those who are struggling to be truly Christian families in the modern world by forming an “Association of families for families”.
CFCFFL carries out its mission of family life renewal by helping its members to live a life of holiness, a life of discipleship, a life of service, a life of communion, and a life of mission.
We believe that the work of renewing the family requires total Christian liberation and development. We are committed to work for the liberation of the human person from the chains of personal and corporate sin through three specific thrusts: our work with the poor, our work for justice and our work for life.
How many countries do you operate?
CFCFFL has spread and is currently active in over 60 countries across the world with large concentrations in the Philippines and India.
How distinct is Couples for Christ from Catholic Family Movement (CFM)?
CFM is network of parish and/or neighbourhood small groups of families that seek, through the use of programming, to reinforce Christian values in families so that they are encouraged to reach out in action to others.
Their programming uses the “Jocist Method” first pioneered by Cardinal Joseph Cardijn and leads members to discuss what they observe in their own family or community, judge what they have seen in light of Jesus’ teachings, and then act to change things for the better.
CFCFFL on the other hand is a charismatically inspired family movement that seeks to make disciples of their members through ongoing formation. This is done in small communities where members take pastoral responsibility for each other.
Here they strive to daily live out of the demands of the Christian Life Seminar, which are ongoing repentance, daily yielding to the Spirit and making Christ and his Kingdom present in the world by embracing the call to communion.
You’ll be in Malawi for two years doing missionary work. What would you like to achieve during this period and how are you going to ensure you achieve your goals?
A missionary is one who is sent, not one who thinks of “going back”. We have been sent to Africa and we have come here to make Africa our home, to hold it in our hearts.
Others have come to Malawi before us and have planted the seed. Our task is to nurture it to fruition. Thus, in the context of CFCFFL, we aim to encourage and inspire the brethren to re-organise themselves as missionary communities of love.
We will seek to involve every interested Catholic in the missionary endeavours of the Church. Our goal is to create a missionary movement of lay people here in Malawi so that the warm hearts of Malawi may be ignited with a fiery passion of spreading the fragrance of Christ’s love to the very ends of Africa.
We will harness the power of the Lord in intercession before the Blessed Sacrament. We will sit down with the elders of the Church in Blantyre Archdiocese to srategise and plan. Eventually, we will present the call of the gospel to youth and to families through a series of workshops.
Those who respond to this call will be organised into loose-knit missionary cells that will continue the process which may be summed up with the catch-phrase: know Christ – live Christ – share Christ.