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Are Christian Ministries Relevant To The Church

Fr. Lito Rocero

Background:

Fr. Lito Rocero is the parish priest of Sta.Cecilia Parish, Maly, San Mateo, Rizal, Philippines. Prior to this, he was the parish priest of Pililla, Tanay and Cardona. He started the first Christian Life Program (CLP) in the eastern part of Rizal province in 1986 at PiIilla, Rizal.

He attended the MaryHill School of Theology before his ordination as priest in 1984 at the Diocese of Antipolo. First assigned to Cainta, Rizal, he was then transferred to Antipolo.

He met Couples for Christ (CFC) in Antipolo in one of the CLPs conducted at the parish hall of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. He sat down to hear all the CLP talks, but was also asked to give the sacrament of Holy Reconciliation whenever CLP participants were moved to reconcile with the Lord.

He assessed the Christian Life Program and found it to be good. He concluded that when he gets assigned to a parish he will start the CLP. All the talks are very relevant, he says, for evangelization.

When Did You Start The First CLP?

When I was assigned in Pililla in 1986,. I started the first parish-based CLP in PiIilla, the first CLP in Rizal province. This is good because the foundation of the church starts with the family. But the couple must first be strengthened in their resolve. After 3 years, in Tanay, the first thing I did was to start the Couples for Christ also. In all the parishes that I will get to, I've already decided to start Couples for Christ.

What Did You See In Couples For Christ?

First of all it strengthened the relationship between husband and wife. It develops a Christ-centered family. And I've seen the changes that have happened in the couples. They draw closer to the church. Even their children also become closer to the church.

In Pililla, I had a couple in the verge of giving up on their marriage. When I asked them to join CFC, I think it gave them more forgiveness in their lives, a lot of understanding, deep renewal of concern to strengthen their relationship.

All these I see in Couples for Christ. I once gave a talk to CFC and I saw commitment in them. I admire this in them.

Of course, there too are casualties. But what's good is that the leaders still tried to win back the couples.

What Do You See As The Role Of CFC In The Parish?

It is an instrument for evangelization. After the CLP in the town proper of PiIilla, we bring it to the barrios. We started in Bugarin, then Malaya. We brought it to Niugan, then Quisao.

Here you really see their commitment to evangelization. These are the parishioners who really support the church. But it needs to be parish-based. That is why in my new parish, I try to find a way to bring Couples for Christ to the church activities. I asked them to come to the parish at least once a month. They picked the first Saturday of every month to have their prayer meeting. I also require them to submit their plan of activities so I could incorporate their plans in the Family Life Apostolate of the parish.

What Programs Or Activities Do You See The Couples For Christ Doing In Your Parish?

I will be urging them to be a part of the Pre-Cana Seminar [Catholic churches in the Philippines generally use this term to mean the live-out retreat on Christian marriage for couples about to be married. CFC's equivalent formation program is called the Marriage Preparation Program (MPP)].

In the near future, I will ask them to do apostolate in certain areas where they can encourage couples in their married life and get them to experience what brotherhood and sisterhood is. They can do this twice a month.

Do You See CFC As Relevant To Your Parish?

Yes, certainly, specially in strengthening the foundation of the family. Specially since this foundation is also the foundation of the church. What's good with CFC is that they are a couple - both of them are encouraged to be active members of the church.

How About In The Diocesan Level, Do You Think Couples For Christ Plays An Active Role In The Program Of The Church?

I think yes. Specially in the area of family life ministry. But I also wish that there should be a diocesan secretariat because all the organizations in the church have this secretariat. The secretariat will serve as the umbrella of the diocesan family life ministry. With this, it will help in the implementation of the program of the diocese. It's already here; Couples for Christ is already a solid group. So we need these committed people to be part of the evangelization of the family ministry.

What Would You Say To CFC?

I wish you would strengthen your relationship with your parishes. I wish you will have more parish-based programs. I like the commitment of the leaders. They have very strong, very solid commitment.

The Holy Spirit is working through you on the evangelization of the family. I see this as the solution to problem of the family.

If Couples for Christ would intensify their efforts to strengthen the family, you will see that it would solve or minimize the problem of the society: drug addiction, pre-marital sex, and the like.

Since it has a program for everyone in the family, CFC is a very good movement, at least, one of the best movements.

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