CFC-SC has plenty of reasons to celebrate after a fruitful weekend of Christian Life Program this past June 28-29, 2014, both in the Upstate and in the Lowcountry.
After a successful mission conducting a Christian Life Program at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Goose Creek, SC during the months of March and April of this year, parish priest Father Jason Caganap, CRM was very impressed and immediately expressed his desire to replicate the program for the Hispanic parishioners in the community. Bro. Rod Bustos (MD) coordinated with Bro. Luis Paez (NJ) and Bro. David Sanchez (NY) and preparation took off ground. The service team from Greenville was formed and a series of planning meetings were conducted and coordinated with Bro. Luis Paez.
On June 28th, the very first Hispanic Christian Life Program in South Carolina was held at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Goose Creek, SC. The first day of CFC Parejas Para Cristo – Programa Vida Cristiana had everyone filled with excitement. The program progressed throughout the day; with the children participating in activities at the All Ministries Center while Bro. Luis and Bro. David served at the main venue and finished all six talks on the first day.
The following day, June 29th, most of the participants came back except for a few who had work commitments, but there were also some new faces that showed up. The children were once again ushered into the All Ministries Center to the care of CFC brothers and sisters who made sure that they participated in outdoor and indoor activities coupled with teachings about the Catholic Faith.
During the Receiving the Power of the Holy Spirit session, lots of amazing and Spirit-filled events happened. The presence of the Holy Spirit was felt in the four corners of the venue. Spiritual transformation was very evident.
With the help of Bro. Luis Paez and Bro. David Sanchez, the service team was able to dedicate 11 couples to Couples for Christ (Parejas Para Cristo), 9 individuals to Servants of the Lord, 20 individuals to Handmaids of the Lord and 41 children to Kids for Christ (Niños Para Cristo). Four household groups were formed to start their spiritual journey.
Simultaneously, 14 youths were dedicated at the Youth Camp held at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Greenville, SC.
The weekend for CFC-SC was like Noah’s ark being filled up with a diverse group of people from all walks of life. About 90% were from Mexico, a few Colombia, some from Nicaragua and from Spain. Majority of the participants are construction workers, few are professionals, some are workers in the church, and some are unemployed. There are couples, maidens, singles and youths. While children are from all ages from 6 months to 14 years of age – they were tall and short, introverts and extroverts, sporty and graceful.
While most people were glued to their TV sets to watch the World Cup Series going on during the weekend, these folks chose instead to participate in the Christian Life Program. They all came with one purpose — to know and learn more of the only one true God. Their initial apprehension and “not-sure-what-to-expect” attitude is replaced with a feeling of “I’m coming home” realization after they were all met by the service team with open arms — as one would a family member who was long lost but is now found. These people are different cultures, though with same language, coming together to know their reason for hope and rediscovering the richness of the faith of their ancestors that was passed on to them. Their once busy lives filled with routines and balancing act between trying to provide for their families while inculcating old values and traditions to their children and keeping their own sanity intact amidst a demanding modern society has now found a respite and a home.
The joy of the children who attended the CFC Kids camp was undeniable. When asked about their experience and what they learned over the weekend, their enthusiastic replies included:
“I learned to love and that God is love.” — Ivan, 9
“… Respect others” — Liz, 8
“… Integrity and Honesty” — Danielle, 14
“Be kind and nice to others.” — Emily, 6
“I want to go to heaven.” — Damien, 10
“Love my sister” — Henry, 6
“Share my toys…” — Wilson, 6
“Don’t say bad words.” — Giselle, 10
“My favorite bible character is Jesus.” — Brian, 11
“When I grow up, I want to be a priest.” — Eugene, 7
“Help my mom by cleaning dog poop.” — Carlos, 8
“Keep my room clean…” — Abraham, 8
Members of the service team were all teary eyed, hearing their answers and seeing the interests and energy these children have. There are siblings, cousins, schoolmates and even strangers that have become friends and buddies, united in the Spirit of the one special “never-before-experienced” weekend of love, discovery and possibilities.
As the day closed, the non-Spanish speaking service team gathered together for the last time, laid their hands on the children in prayer, and without prompting, Brian (11) started praying in Spanish “The Our Father”, “The Hail Mary” and “The Glory Be” and the rest of the children bowed down their heads and in unison prayed together in their language. By adding that angelic flavor of the church, the whole experience for everybody during that weekend was beautiful and spiritual.
The weekend started at Noah’s ark, in chaos full of divergent group of people from all ages, different languages, and different cultures with one purpose – to seek God. Everybody ended up finding God and each other – a rainbow of different colors at the end of the flood.
A Christian Life Program is a conduit for knowledge and love of God. By having these two back-to-back adults and kids Christian Life Program, one will realize how closely intertwined Christ’s body is to each other in spite of diversity. As Saint Thomas Aquinas said, “Knowledge and love are equally necessary in the heavenly consummation.”