|Couples of Christ held its Handmaids of the Lord national conference Aug. 26-28 in Franklin, Tenn. Marilex Luna of Cleveland, Ohio, sings during a leadership forum at the start of the convention. Photos by Andy Telli|
Couples for Christ and its associated ministries are dedicated to strengthening families through a personal spiritual renewal. The international lay apostolate brought its message to the Diocese of Nashville Aug. 26-28 at the Couples for Christ Handmaids of the Lord National Conference.
“We’re trying to bring the family back together,” said Tat Reyes, a member of Couples For Christ USA National Council and responsible for overseeing the six conventions the organization sponsors each year.
In modern society “there are a lot of things distracting them being close to God, especially our children,” Reyes said. “It is the parents’ role to ensure that our children know God. Strong families help create good Christians.”
While schools can help our children become lawyers, engineers and doctors, Reyes said. “The parents’ role is to make them Christian lawyers, Christian engineers, Christian doctors.”
Couples For Christ started as a prayer group for 16 couples in 1981 in the Philippines. Since then, it has spread to more than 100 countries and is organized into six communities: Couples for Christ for married couples; Kids for Christ for children ages four to 12; Youth for Christ for children ages 13-21; Singles for Christ for unmarried young adults; Handmaids of the Lord for adult women; and Servants of the Lord for adult men.
“It’s a ministry from womb to tomb,” Reyes said.
The core values of Couples for Christ are “Pro-God, Pro-Family, Pro-Life and Pro-Poor.”
When a person joins they first complete a 12-week seminar called the Christian Life Program. They then become a member of a “household,” which consists of eight to 14 individuals or four to seven couples who meet once a week for prayer, Scripture study and reflection.
Multiple households form a unit, multiple units form a chapter, multiple chapters form a cluster, and a sector can be formed depending on the amount of clusters in the area.
“We always encourage our members to participate in the parish where they belong and help the Church wherever they can,” Reyes said.
|Francen Ong of New York City makes a presentation during a leadership forum at the start of the conference.|
Buddy and Khryss Campos, parishioners at St. Philip Church in Franklin, joined Couples for Christ in 1993 in the Philippines. After they moved to Tennessee in 2005, they realized they were missing their prayer meetings, Khryss Campos said.
They started meeting with two other couples who also were in Couples for Christ, and then organized a Christian Life Program in 2006.
For the Campos, Couples for Christ is a ministry for the whole family. “The kids grew up in the CFC culture,” Khryss said of their children. “They’re active in the Church.
“We’re a missionary family,” she added. “We’re going to go to great lengths to do service, whatever that may be because it binds us as a family.”
Those family binds are evident in Couples for Christ families, said Zaldi Zapanta, area leader for Tennessee. “When you see them go to church all together, even the grown up children, it’s inspiring.”
Besides St. Philip, Couples for Christ households have been organized at St. Luke Church in Smyrna and Holy Family Church in Lafayette.
“Couples for Christ is a ministry that creates the love in the couple and the families, love for Christ and love for the family,” said Maru Hernandez, a member of the Hispanic Community at St. Philip. “It’s very important to stay together to the fountain of life. This is Jesus Christ.”
Most of the members are Filipino but the ministry to growing among Caucasian and Hispanic members, said Zapanta, a parishioner at St. Luke Church in Smyrna.
The Tennessee organization also is trying to introduce it to the Vietnamese and Kenyan communities in the Nashville area, Zapanta said. “We hope we can reach out and share it.”
Couples for Christ has been granted Vatican recognition as an International Association of the Faithful of the Pontifical Right through the Pontifical Council for the Laity. While celebrating Mass during the Handmaids of the Lord Conference, Bishop David Choby presented a letter of recognition for the organization in the Diocese of Nashville.
More than 400 women from around the country attended the Handmaids of the Lord Conference, which was held at the Marriott Cool Springs in Franklin.
For more information about Couples for Christ, visit http://cfctennessee.org/cfctn/ContactUs.aspx or call 904-434-2117.