The Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Catholic Family Ministries
The seeds of Catholic Family Ministries really began to push their way into the "Light" about 20 years ago with our group of young Catholic families who were zealous for the Lord and the Catholic community which we were part of.
The root was the Charismatic Renewal; the seeds, the St. Albert Open Door Prayer Group. Under the prayerful leadership of Bob LeBlanc, this was notably the largest and most active Catholic prayer group in the area. The age and background of its' members were diverse, but the desire to grow in holiness and invite others to do the same was our common thread. We offered many "Life in the Spirit" Seminars which continued to attract new members. People were touched by their first real teaching and experience of the Holy Spirit. Many experienced the healing of wounds in their lives. All were drawn in by the love and commaraderie of the members for one another and their generous service to all those who walked through that open door. Our service was through friendship, encouragement, teaching, testimony, praise, prayer, an inspiring book, an informative tape, and sometimes even rides, meals, and financial support when needed.
The seeds of this group began to burst forth with life – figuratively and literally. Our many young families were filling the churches - each prolific family lining a pew - like back in the days of the vibrant Catholic Church. The children - well-dressed, respectful and prayerful. The parents - joyful. The families gathering in the Welcome Area after Mass with lively discussions about our faith, the readings, the homily. We saw nods of approval and hints of sadness from those whose children were grown but had left the church. There were eyes of longing to share in our joyful secret.
These longing looks, a praying community, and the plea of Pope John Paul II for families to "become what you are, the domestic church and the heart of the world", led us to the next step. We began to invite others to join us for monthly pot-blessings. Child care was provided for the children and videos on apologetics and conversion stories – great ones and our own humble ones – were shared with the adults. We had All Saints Parties, Christmas Parties, Talent Shows, and a traditional New Year's Eve Foot Washing where any hurts and offenses over the past year were washed away in a basin of water and tears. We planned amazing camping trips for the whole family where everyone played and prayed together. The children began to form life-long friendships while parents huddled around campfires and gave thanks to God for his many blessings. We also shared grandiose ideas on "what would be even better..."
One of those grand plans relentlessly burned in Bob's heart and he shared it often with the core group. At first it was met with trepidation but soon began to resonate with some of us. This would simply be an extension of what we were already doing, but with a much broader reach. We took a step in faith, and began.
Thus, our fruitful tree spread its branches as we began to plan our first "Family Life Conference." This would be huge – or so we prayed – and it was. We had visions of big top tents, world-renowned speakers such as the apologists we had been studying, ministries for the whole family, Mass, Reconciliation, priests, religious, babies to grandparents, praise and prayers, camping, games, talent shows, coffee houses. It would be a time for the whole family to retreat together and join with other like-minded families and just – "be family" and "be Catholic" and remember Jesus as the center of our homes and the Eucharist as the summit of our lives. Each year families go forth from this conference to become what Pope John Paul II asked us to be, "the domestic church and the heart of the world."
Well – that was 17 years ago. It's amazing to see what God can do with a little faith and a little yes. Each year He gently reminds us that we are only here to do His work. The details unfold in ways that we never expect and better than we could ever plan.He prepares the souls that come. Every year we choke back tears as vehicles stuffed with life pull in and pack the Lac St. Anne Pilgrimmage Site.
Much has happened in these 17 years. Our fledgling fruitful couples are now "maturing" grandparents with young fruitful families with whom we continue to serve the Lord in this ministry. We've added an Annual Men of Integrity Conference. There have been Marriage Conferences and Women of Dignity Conferences. The younger generation within CFM have branched out further with a Protect Life Group. And though Bob is no longer with us, we always feel his prayers rain down from heaven as we work in the field, sowing seeds. Some we see blossom; others we don't see at all, but trust they are working their way into the "Light". We simply say "Yes!" for love of God, for His Church, and for hope for families in a culture quickly losing its Christian identity.
Our Mission (Apostolate) is to bring Jesus (and the Word of God) to others with a special focus on the Evangelization of Families".
"The future of humanity passes by way of the family. It is therefore indispensible and urgent that every person of good will should endeavor to save and foster the values and requirements of the family... This is an injunction that calls for concrete action... Yes, the families of today must be called back to their original position; they must follow Christ." - Familiaris Consortio
Catholic Family Ministries (CFM) is a charitable organization that promotes and affirms the human, cultural and spiritual formation of people of all ages, with special emphasis on the family as the prime entity of society. CFM took shape in November, 1995 with a group of faithful men and women concerned over the social, political and economic forces that threaten the family. The vision for CFM was inspired by the call to action of our Holy Father Pope John Paul II in his encyclical "Familiaris Consortio" and the groups commitment to preserve and further the values that are the foundation of our society. In order to accomplish its aims, CFM, among its multiple activities, sponsors an annual Family Life Conference and Annual Men of Integrity Conference.