WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Noli Manuel said Couples For Christ renews and strengthens Christian family life.
July 21, 2014
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
When Noli and Sam Manuel got married in September 2004, serving as a missionary couple was not the first thing on their minds. They were content to start their new life together as husband and wife in the Philippines.
Even in 2005, when the elders of their church invited them to go on a long-term mission, they were reluctant.
After Sam suffered a miscarriage, their acceptance of the call became clearer. They viewed it as a sign that if they put God first, he would take care of the rest. In March 2006, the couple flew to the Middle East to start their mission.
With the loss of their child, they could relate to how Mary must have felt when she saw Jesus dying on the cross.
"Nothing in this world can ever come close to that feeling of seeing your son slowly dying and losing life," Noli told the Couples For Christ Western regional conference.
The conference, held July 11-13 at the Radisson Hotel in Edmonton, was attended by more than 1,000 delegates.
Giving up his dream of becoming a doctor, Manuel instead committed to work full-time for the Lord. It was through serving God full-time that he and his wife were blessed with the gift of each other. They joined Couples For Christ (CFC).
Today, Manuel remains a full-time pastoral worker for CFC Middle East.
CFC is a gift from God because families are always under attack, and CFC helps shield families from those attacks, he said. The challenges facing today's families include separation, divorce, infidelity, spousal and child abuse, drugs and alcohol, abortion and contraception.
CFC is a Catholic movement intended for the renewal and strengthening of Christian family life. The couples commit to the Lord and to one another to grow in maturity as men and women of God and to fulfill their primary vocation of raising families grounded in Christian values in the service and love for God.
"Couples For Christ truly is a blessing to the family, and I thank my parents because they generously shared this gift to me," said Manuel.
Manuel witnessed CFC change his family of origin. His father gambled heavily, and owned a bar and a massage parlour where the women worked in their underwear. God changed his father.
"When my dad joined CFC in 1991, immediately he had a transformation, a complete turnaround. My dad decided to give up all of his businesses. What's left of his businesses today is actually a bakery," said Manuel.
A principle of CFC is to renew society through a conversion of both spouses to Christ and their families as well. The approach is to invite couples to a private home and, through a series of weekly informal discussions about the Gospel, encourage them to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Manuel's advice to wives at the conference was, "Pray to St. Joseph that your husbands will be God's best friend."
After CFC was founded in 1981 in the Philippines, Canada was one of the first countries to which it migrated. Immigrant couples from the Philippines were craving the CFC setup of weekly household prayer meetings and fellowship in their new Canadian homes.
FLOURISHING IN ALBERTA
CFC Edmonton flourishes with more than 850 members. CFC also has a strong presence throughout the province in Calgary, Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Ponoka, Valleyview and Whitecourt.
Families ought to be a civilization of love and prayer, he said. Love for God and love for one another are what kept the Holy Family together. That same love for God and each other will keep any family together.
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