“Missionary Disciples of the 21st Century”

An affirmation of our Vision and Mission by His Excellency Most Rev. Gilbert A. Garcera, D.D.’s talk to CFC-FFL.

Missionary Disciples of the 21st Century”

Last January 10, 2016, Bishop Gilbert Garcera, DD, Bishop of Daet and Chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, delivered a presentation entitled the “Filipino Family: Missionary Disciples of the Eucharist” at the CFC-FFL Leaders Conference 2016, held at the Miriam College Auditorium.

The good bishop presented points of discussion which strongly affirmed our life and mission as Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life. Presented below are some key principles in his presentation which are significant to our community’s work of evangelization.

  • First off, evangelization is an absolute priority.

As CFC-FFL, we are an evangelistic and missionary community; this is our very identity. To be on mission is our main precedence as we exist in the modern world. In the midst of spiritual hunger, moral relativism, poverty and other oppressive structures in society, we are called by God to be His evangelizers and missionaries. As stated by St. John Paul II, “If the Church is to fulfill its providential destiny, evangelization as the joyful, patient and progressive preaching of the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ must be your absolute priority” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, November 1999). Hence, we evangelize for the cause of Christ. This affirms in so many ways the direction our community has taken for the past 35 years and the road still ahead of us.

As Pope Francis himself has said in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium (EG no. 25), “I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion… Throughout the world, let us be “permanently in a state of mission”.

  • Secondly, the work of evangelization must take root in the life of the local church.

Bishop Garcera briefly expressed his sentiments on why some priests and bishops frowned upon CFC in the past years. For one, Church leaders saw CFC as a parallel church with a life of its own. But with the restoration of our community in 2007, one of our Core Values is Being a Servant to the Church. Initially, our understanding of this was limited to mere service in the parish but through the years, God had revealed to us how to live out this core value, finding its fulfillment through the Live Christ, Share Christ movement.

LCSC is our self-offering to the church, to freely and selflessly share the gifts of community to every diocese and parish worldwide so that more people could have an encounter with Christ. At this stage in our mission life, it’s not about us anymore but how God wants to use us so that the work of evangelization would be massive.

Therefore, our work in LCSC is the way to go in terms of massive evangelization. The way LCSC moves and operates is a concrete confirmation of Pope Francis’ comment in Evangelii Gaudium (EG no. 29), “It will prove beneficial for them not to lose contact with the rich reality of the local parish and to participate readily in the overall pastoral activity of the particular Church. This kind of integration will prevent them from concentrating only on part of the Gospel or the Church, or becoming nomads without roots.

  •  Finally, for the work of evangelization to flourish, there is a need for constant formation.

At this point in the life of CFC-FFL, it can be said that we are undergoing a process of change in order for us to fly again in the next 40 years and beyond. Using the image on an eagle, Bishop Garcera stressed that if we let this change occur amidst the pain, then we will live, survive and fly again.

This brings to mind the importance of ongoing formation. We need to give value to it and undertake this process with commitment for this is where the deepening lies. We must be open to a constant renewal of our minds as we set a new path in this Year of Mercy. In so doing, we can become a restored generation ready to take on Christ’s mission of proclaiming the gospel to every creature (Mk 16:15).

***

In the words of Jesus Christ himself, he commands us, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:27). How? “By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply on our own” (Imposition of Pallium and bestowal of Fisherman’s ring, March 19, 2013).

We are CFC-FFL. We are an evangelistic and missionary community. We have been called to the New Evangelization and the work of LCSC is our very response. Yes, it is a daunting and challenging task, but in the Eucharist, Christ offers Himself to us. We are invited everyday to partake of Him that we may be empowered and transformed for mission. Wherever the Lord calls us, let us commit ourselves to the renewal of our minds, joyfully witness to our faith and be missionary disciples setting the world on fire, for this is what Jesus wants!

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