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November 13, 2010 may have been an ordinary day for most people. But for the CFC-FFL community in New Jersey, this is a special day. Almost all top leaders and members in central Jersey woke up that morning, excited to execute their given tasks to make the wedding of 5 “Parehas” of Matrimonios Para Cristo (MPC) NJ a reality! One cannot imagine them “living together” for a 20 or 25 some years without the benefit of the graces from the Sacrament of Matrimony. Whatever are the reasons- lack of money or cumbersome application requirements or lukewarm conviction to get married in church – were overcome to make this day an affirmation of CFC FFL’s mission - supporting family renewal and defending life.

On July 25, 2010, 14 Hispanic couples graduated from our Seminario de Vida Cristiana (CLS in English) at St. Paul Church in Jersey City. While the dedication ceremony was being concluded by our MPC USA National Director, Edwin & Nila Andrews, the registration forms revealed that 7 of the 14 couples were still unmarried. Interestingly, each couple has a long list of names of their children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren. Our Service Team, led by the Andrews; Teny Mardo, full time missionary from Argentina; Nydia Rodriguez, Servias servant leader, Oscar & Lulu Sychua, Ed & Em Rana, Jerry & Angie Pimentel and ourselves prayed for God’s wisdom in handling these unwed couples.

Several options came up: (1) set up a Hispanic version of Jacob’s Well, CFC FFL’s ministry for unwed couples, (2) delay any decision on the unwed couples by allowing them to join MPC or (3) get them into MPC households & work for their marriage in Church. Padre Felipe Lopez, parochial vicar at St. Paul, stepped in to affirm our one and only option - GET THEM MARRIED IN CHURCH! He bolstered this option by announcing that only 2 paper requirements are needed: baptismal certificate and attendance to a Pre-Cana seminar. Actually, Padre Felipe confided later that he had been pursuing unwed parishioners for years but could not find a forum to put it together. At last, MPC became an answered prayer to his elusive dream to get them married and thus allow them to be in the state of grace!

Almost immediately thereafter, we organized a Wedding Team to pursue the Mass Wedding for 5 couples (the application papers for the other 2 are still pending) . Helen and I lost no time is harnessing the resources of our CFC-FFL community in NJ. Getting their cooperation became an easy task because of the full endorsement of our Area Servant, Ed Yamba. The very first action plan was a prayer initiative via the "angeslpraying4u" prayer network. This was followed by a series of meetings with top leaders of CFC-FFL NJ including the Core Team of CFC-FFL in NJ.. Simultaneously, the new MPC graduates at St. Paul led by Bernabe & Rosa Calixto and Nydia Rodriguez, went on with their weekly household sessions. Consequently, we express our profound gratitude to the overwhelming support of the entire the CFC FFL community in terms of cash and food donations. Indeed the sharing of resources was unexpected considering this period of economic difficulty.

Accordingly, the Mass Wedding went on with all the trimmings of a grand but solemn wedding. The brides were so elegant in white while the grooms were dapper in their dark suits. Incredibly, God's mighty hand was evident in all aspects of the wedding. The bridal march was unique for each bride with her own entourage of flower girls and ring bearers, their own children and grandchildren. And as they responded to their individual "I DO's", a flurry of activities were being put into action at the Wedding Reception, a mile away. The Food Team led by Melvin & Rhoda Mendoza, transformed a school social hall into a "Wedding Ballroom, minus the chandeliers!" The wedding celebrants were made to sit down in a “presidential dais” with individual white wedding cake for each couple. And the food and Latin music…”super” is the word for it!

By now, the 5 MPC couples are enjoying the long-awaited blessings from God that overflowed to their children and next generations. This Mass Wedding of 2010 is only the beginning. As we await more couples to be tapped by God to undergo the SVC program of MPC, we at CFC-FFL are ready for any unwed couple that may come along, AS LONG AS WE REMAIN FAITHFUL TO OUR COVENANT FOR FAMILY AND LIFE!

May God be praised forever! DIOS TE BENDIGA. Muchas gracias.

Contributed by:

Jun and Helen Banaria
MPC Coordinators, New Jersey

Copyright 2008 Couples for Christ Foundation, Inc.
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