The family is the basic unit of society. Everyone comes from a family. And no matter how far life takes one, he or she knows that there is a family waiting for him or her to come home.
For Couples for Christ, however, the family is more than this. The family, to someone transformed in God’s love, is a blessing, a gift that must be greatly valued, nourished and protected. This was the central message during the CFC-sponsored Family Is a Gift Conference, held on June 16 at the SMX Convention Center. More than 3,000 individuals, a significant number of whom were not CFC members, filled the conference hall, eager to listen to keynote speakers talk about the gift of family.
Fr. Joel Jason, parish priest of the Mary, Mirror of Justice Parish in Makati and an authority on the Theology of the Body, set the tone for the conference as he discussed the truth and beauty of God’s plan for marriage and the family, and the threats they face. To protect and uphold the value of the family, Fr. Joel encouraged the families to confront those who attack the family in such a way that instead of repelling them, attracts them and wins them over. Fr. Jason also encouraged families to affirm God’s Word about marriage and family, to use social media to evangelize, tell others the truth about marriage, laud and celebrate the gift of family, and form the young regarding the truth about love and marriage. Lissy Ann Puno, author of the books “Affairs Don’t Just Happen” and “Stay Connected”, counseling psychologist, and certified Imago therapist, talked about what puts marriages at risk and how couples can keep them strong.
CFC Chairman Melo Villaroman Jr., the last speaker of the morning session, spoke about families being light in the darkness, and shared his personal experiences to inspire and challenge couples to make their families seedbeds of love and faith, springboards of love and service, and sanctuaries of love and rest.
In the afternoon, the participants attended their pre-chosen breakout sessions. The first set of sessions consisted of talks on same sex attraction, difficulty in conceiving, dealing with depression, real intimacy in marriage, joy in the 50s and 60s, and raising children with special needs. The next set of sessions dealt with chastity and sex education in the family, adoption, financial stability, parenting the digital generations, family dinner table conversations, and dealing with crisis in marriage.
Participants were one in saying that the conference was very informative as it enabled them to see and understand the beauty of family and why and how every couple should make it their business to uphold the family. It also became an avenue for couples from different communities and various walks of life to collaborate in the future for similar activities. Even young children had a full day, thanks to the Kids Academy managed by CFC Kids for Christ. At the end of the day, every family who came to the conference went home with the conviction that indeed, the family is a gift and that challenges designed to weaken the family that is one in faith and love will only make it stronger.