Foundation for Family and Life
Padilla as Founder of CFC
was started in 1981 through the initiative of the Ang
Ligaya ng Panginoon Community (LNP). In January 1981,
LNP gathered 16 couples who went through a Life in the Spirit
Seminar, with the intent of bringing them into LNP. But instead
they were kept together for a few months after the LSS, until
it was decided that a new group would be established to emphasize
family life renewal. It would be an outreach of LNP. In June
of 1981, Couples for Christ (CFC) was born, with the 16 couples
as members. Frank and Gerry Padilla were among the 16.
had never claimed that he was the founder of CFC. In the midst
of many bishops, including Cardinal Sin, saying through the
years that he was the founder, Frank kept saying he was not.
A number of times he even put it in writing to the CFC membership.
He did not want to take claim to being founder.
Frank was wrong. He did not understand then, as many do not
understand now, the meaning of being founder. The meaning
of founder is taken in the Church context of ecclesial movements,
which the Holy Spirit raises from time to time throughout
the history of the Church.
meaning of founder
is considered the founder of a lay association? There are
3 prerequisites. One, historical, that is, he was there from
the beginning, having been called by God. Two, canonical,
that is, he put together the constitution (statutes) or way
of life of the association. Three, charismatic, that is, he
embodies the whole vision and mission of the association,
and incarnates the spirit of what the association is and has
been called to do. He translates the charism into a particular
way of life.
was there from the very start in 1981. He was there as part
of a small group of leaders when CFC had its very first formal
planning session in 1982, which came up with the statements
of vision, mission and philosophy. He was an incorporator
of the corporate entity established in 1984, the Couples for
Christ Foundation Inc. (CFCFI), tasked to carry on the mission
of CFC. He quickly emerged to be a top leader, and in 1985
was already the Executive Director, running the day-to-day
work of the whole CFC. In 1986 he went fulltime for CFC. He
was brought into the LNP in 1982 and quickly rose through
the ranks, becoming Coordinator (Coordinators were the top
leaders of the community) in 1987.
1993, there was a split, by mutual agreement, between the
parent LNP and the child CFC. This was due to basic fundamental
differences in vision. LNP wanted CFC to just be one of its
outreaches focusing on married couples, not to expand too
much or too widely, not to do much of provincial or even foreign
work. But the true calling of CFC was emerging, that of an
evangelistic and missionary community, fostering rapid and
massive growth, and ministering to every member of the family.
LNP was inward-looking while CFC was outward-looking. LNP
wanted restricted growth while CFC was moving into rapid and
massive evangelization. LNP did not see CFC doing too much
work outside the Philippines while CFC was gearing up to bring
its work into all the countries of the world. So the very
life and direction of CFC was the very threat seen by LNP
to what it had envisioned. The separation was inevitable,
if God was to be obeyed. Frank led CFC through this whole
1996, Frank secured CBCP recognition for CFC. In 2000, Frank
secured Vatican recognition for CFC.
phases in the life of CFC
are 3 significant phases in the life of CFC—1981, 1993,
2007. 1981 was the founding of CFC. 1993 was the re-founding
of CFC. And 2007 was the restoration of CFC.
stirrings for the fullness of the life and mission of CFC
began early in the 1980s, but it was in 1993 that the CFC
charism achieved its fullness. By 1993, the direction of CFC
had become radically different from and diametrically opposed
to the direction its parent LNP wanted for it. In fact, it
was this difference that caused the separation. With its “new”
existence, CFC experienced a re-founding. Throughout this
time, Frank was the initiator, proponent, mover, visionary,
leader and chief defender of the new CFC. In this sense, it
is clear that Frank is the founder. He was the overall leader
of CFC, he was the one who had a clear vision of what the
Lord wanted and he led in pushing for that vision, he was
the rallying force in getting the overwhelming majority of
CFC members to remain with him in the re-founded CFC.
how about 1981? The normal secular thinking is that the founder
is the one who started the group. And that of course is LNP.
But remember that we are talking about God’s work, and
it is God who has His plan and intent for any authentic movement
that He raises. God intended CFC to be what it became, and
not what LNP wanted it to become. So more importantly, transcending
human time and dimension, the relevant questions are: what
was God’s intent for CFC, what was His plan, what did
He ultimately intend to cause to happen, whom did He bring
in at the very start to carry out His plan? And so would it
not be true that God brought Frank into that small group that
became CFC in 1981, precisely because He knew what He would
cause to happen, and Frank would be the main actor in His
plan? And God used Frank from that time on. Frank was at the
core of the leadership that began to develop the thrusts and
programs of CFC, even as he was not yet the overall leader.
With this understanding, we can then accept that even for
the very start, at the founding of CFC, God intended Frank
to be the true founder.
truth, the re-founding in 1993 was only in relation to its
being brought to what God intended it to be when it was founded
in 1981. From the very beginning, God intended CFC to be what
it became after the separation. There was no change in course.
There was only the lack of understanding, on the part of LNP,
as to what God had allowed to be founded in 1981. Thus the
latter years before and right up to the separation were difficult,
in that LNP was unwittingly preventing CFC from fully becoming
what God intended. But what God intended never changed---from
1981, through 1993, and now in 2007 and beyond. Thus, CFC
re-founded in 1993 was really the CFC God originally founded
the crisis came in 2007, and CFC split into two. Why? Because
God will not be thwarted in His plan. And so as CFC veered
away from its authentic calling, God allowed the crisis, and
eventually the split. We can even say that God not just allowed
but actually intended the crisis to happen (just as in 1993).
God is going to accomplish His plan in spite of our blindness,
ignorance and sin.
has already been said about the crisis and so will not be
repeated here. But Frank tried to renew CFC from within through
his restoration movement, to restore CFC back to its authentic
charism from which CFC had veered away. But the other side
would not accept this, and eventually drove Frank away, after
unjustly firing him from all his services. Seeing the very
charism and vision and mission of CFC being destroyed, Frank
started CFC-FFL, which is true to CFC’s vision, mission
and charism. CFC-FFL is the CFC that is led by the CFC founder.
the 2007 crisis in CFC was according to God’s plan,
to bring CFC back to His original intent. Perhaps the crisis
was also intended to bring Frank to an acceptance of the reality
of being the founder of CFC, so that finally all the elements
of God’s plan for CFC would be in place.
founder and charism
charism of a particular Church association is a gift given
and entrusted to the founder. The charism is given to a particular
person and not to a group of people. The charism is then shared
by the founder with other people who decide that they have
the same calling as that of the founder.
is the founder, to whom the charism is given, who is responsible
to properly respond to the Spirit. Such responsibility cannot
be delegated. The founder ensures that such charism is always
rooted in Christ, otherwise it will be the charism itself
that will divide the association. The founder interprets how
the charism is lived out in the day-to-day life of the association.
This is why the founder is also called the keeper of the charism.
such, the well-being and unity of the association, based on
its particular charism, is dependent on the presence of the
founder, for as long as he is living. God’s call to
the founder is for life.
by the Church hierarchy
bishops, such as Cardinal Vidal, Archbp Lagdameo (President
of the CBCP), Bp Reyes (Chair of the Episcopal Commission
on the Lay Apostolate and Spiritual Director of CFC), Bp Villegas,
all accept Frank as the founder of CFC. When Frank visited
the Holy See last September, Cardinal Rylko (President of
the Pontifical Council for the Laity, which gave CFC its Vatican
recognition) also affirmed Frank as founder.
humility and submission to God’s will, Frank now also
accepts that he is the founder of CFC.
(Feb 21, 2008)