“PERSONAL reflection, personal discernment and prayer, these are the three things to help you recognize that you are a gift… (that) we are a gift from God for others,” said Most Rev. Gilbert Garcera, Chairman of Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) and Archbishop of Lipa, during the launching of Family is a Gift (FIG) program held May 18, 2019 at the National Shrine of St. Padre Pio, Sto. Tomas, Batangas.
Prior to the launching of FIG in the archdiocese, the program was presented at the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) National conference in Cebu in February 2019. Archbishop Garcera, chairman of ECFL, acknowledged that the program needed to be adopted and implemented in the archdiocese to further help family and life workers and family-oriented organizations in their work of protecting and upholding Batangueño families.
“We are grateful to our good Archbishop and to the FIG team because we really need a program like this to help and equip us in guiding families in our Archdiocese especially these days in the face of many attacks against marriage and families. The beauty of the program is it has specific topics that cater to the needs of parents, grandparents, children and all the members of the family in creating a true Christian family,” shared CFC leader Vic Alvarez, chairman of Ministry for Family and Life, Archdiocese of Lipa.
FIG is a movement that advocates the giftedness of family. It equips families in nurturing and upholding the gift of family and provides family focused environments where members of the family can be nurtured. FIG serves as a convergent point for organizations, institutions, families and individuals in pushing for one goal—to create harmonious familial relationship anchored in Christ.
“Kapag buo ang pamilya, buo ang mundo… Family is a Gift is about reminding us of the giftedness of family and focusing on the basic unit of the society, the family,” Rommel Ancheta, one of the speakers, emphasized in his talk.
Ancheta expounded on the challenges faced by families today and the rapid decline of church-goers which may be rooted in the failure of the family to inject values in the lives of children.
CFC International Council member Arnel Santos, in his session, mentioned the various studies on Filipino families. He also quoted a survey conducted by SWS which reported that Church attendance in the Philippines is rapidly declining, and that Catholicism, among all the religions in the country, registered the highest decline.
He shared one study which says that the solidarity of Filipino families, even from the past decades, had been seriously threatened. The study further noted the breakdown, disintegration and crisis in the family due to multiple challenges, including violence in the environment, separation of family members and technology. “These findings and glaring reality give us more reasons to continue working for family and pushing programs like FiG,” Santos said.
“Parenting the Digital Generation” was discussed by Bboy and Rachel Arguelles. The couple spoke of the different generations and encouraged everyone to eradicate the discrimination between generations, especially among family members. Rachel stressed that the goal is to understand each generation and to create bridges among these generations because those who intentionally aim for intergeneration unification are the healthiest. She added, “Technology is here to stay. We cannot totally take it out of our children’s system but we can limit or control it… And why do we need to? Because over exposure to social media can really cause depression, anxiety and a lot more negative effects on children and family.” The event concluded with a message from Rev. Fr. Eugene Peñalosa, Director of the Ministry for Family and Life, Archdiocese of Lipa. He expressed his gratitude to the FIG team and to all the delegates, and challenged everyone to take part in upholding the gift of family and protecting the youth, the next generation. A total of 770 individuals from 52 parishes, and various family- and youth-oriented organizations from the Archdiocese of Lipa attended the event.
*Reprinted with permission from UGNAYAN, the News Supplement of Couples for Christ.