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
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
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 process.
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 in 1981.
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.
Recognition 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)