Turning Cowboys Into Warriors in Texas

It is the merry month of July, when families beat the summer heat and leave for their favorite vacation spots somewhere in the snow capped mountains, or an island somewhere in the middle of the Pacific or Atlantic Seas. Still, others opt for a stay-cation, and have equally precious time with the kids within the boundaries of home. But for CFCFFL families, July is the community’s national conference season, a vacation from the world and focus on the Lord! And for 2014, all roads and all flights converged in the great big central state of Texas! Yee-Ha!!
This year’s conference theme, Empowered to Witness, is taken from 2 Timothy 1: 7-8, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control…”
The excitement began the weekend of June 27-29th as Singles for Family and Life (SFL) participants arrived at the Marriot Hotel conveniently located just a tram away from the George Bush International airport terminals in Houston. Conference participants from various parts of the country were welcomed in the typical “Howdy Y’all” Texan greeting by the Houston service team headed by the amiable couple, Joel and Winnie Santa Cruz. Just days prior to the conference, only about thirty plus singles were officially registered for the conference, thus giving everyone some shivers. But this gave US Country Servant Ed Yamba, overseeing the overall planning process, all the more courage to hold an empowerment assembly for the service team two days prior, to forget numbers and leave it all to the mighty power of God. True enough, faith works wonders for around 153 singles came willingly to be empowered.
Next came the July 4-6 weekend, this time held at the Westin Hotel near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport for Couples for Family and Life (CFL). Service team couples from Houston drove four hours to Dallas to join the rest of the CFL family flying in from around the country, as all were warmly received by the Dallas Service Team headed by dutiful Area Servants Boots and Jackie Abalos.
While all the rest of America were having fireworks celebrating 4th of July, CFL participants were having their own fire powered praise and worship, calling on the Holy Spirit. The conference officially began with a Holy Mass, then on to Session 1: Role of the Laity delivered by Fr. Nestor Watin, CFCFFL-NY Spiritual Director and Associate Pastor of St. John the Evangelist, Center Moriches, New York. After Saturday’s concelebrated Holy Mass, was the Pro-Life Session with no less than Christopher West, prime mover of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. The whole afternoon was devoted to listen to Session 2: We are Saints, and Session 3: We are Martyrs, boldly delivered by ordinary yet empowered brethren, Country Servant Ed Yamba and PFO National Coordinator Linda Mendoza.
As always, Saturday night was a night of fun and fellowship, as CFL couples clad in their cowboy boots and western outfits, danced the night away with CFL from RGV, Texas having the most exciting memories as their group won the Boot Scootin’ Line Dance contest. Yee-Ha!!
Despite the prior evening’s late night fellowship, participants were back in their seats for Sunday morning’s Holy Mass and Benediction beautifully celebrated by Fr. Ernie Torres, Divine Mercy of Our Lord Pastor and Spiritual Director of CFCFFL-Dallas. The Holy Eucharist of the Mass rightly set the tone for the Final Session: We Are Warriors, valiantly delivered by our humble Servant General Frank Padilla. At the beginning of the conference the cry heard from the crowd was “Yee-Ha!!” But after Bro. Frank’s talk stirring into flame the gifts received in each one’s hearts and emphasizing the laity’s call to be saints, martyrs, warriors for God, participants this time learned the battle cry “AaWoo!!” (from the Sparta warriors movie entitled “300”). Nothing grabs the heart more than personal sharing of God’s warriors, Gabby Hernandez, RGV Texas District Servant and Boni Capuyan, LCSC Coordinator of CFCFFL- CA. Then, the conference ended with a powerful praise-fest reverberating the entire Westin ballroom.
“Bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God” was the conference’s theme. And so, as CFL participants were getting ready to go back to their respective home states, Houstonians have their minds thinking of the YFL National Conference the following weekend, as they drive back home.
July 11-13 came and “with the strength that comes from God alone”, Houston once again hosted the YFL National conference at the same Marriot Hotel venue, which was attended by about 450 youth nationwide. Bro. Frank and Sis. Gerry likewise generously graced the event with their presence, with His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston celebrating the Sunday Holy Mass.
Thank God for the successful conclusion of these three consecutive national conferences. But, just as in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which “never ends, it must be lived”, so too with these annual conferences we attend. The real success is manifest on how we live them. After all the fanfare, to be empowered to witness remains, and always will be, in how we live Christ.
May God be praised forever!
Contributed by: Aleli Nuguid
CFCFFL Houston