Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
June 18, 2001
Couples meet to deepen faith
At national conference, they learn how to enrich family life
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Renewing families and bringing them closer to God and to one another is what Couples for Christ ministry does to Catholic families.
"It strengthened our marriage. As husband and wife, it strengthened our relationship and our relationship to God," Louie and Angie Untalan of Edmonton told the WCR during the national Couples for Christ conference, June 8-10 at the Van Vliet Centre, University of Alberta.
Speaking before 270 couples, guests from Manila and Toronto talked on Christian discipleship, enriching family life and unity within the family.
At the conference, which had United in Christ as its theme, praise and worship songs were played in between talks, allowing the participants to sing and dance.
Couples claimed that the ministry has truly enriched their lives.
"Our whole family benefitted too, because we are all involved. So it strengthened the relationship of the whole family," Louie and Angie said.
Their involvement dates back to 1982 when their children were young and their marriage was still new.
"Couples for Christ has done a lot for me," said Elsa Sabas, of Mississauga, Ont., who was here with her family to participate in the conference.
Elsa, who is married to Rudy Sabas, appreciates the teachings in the group. Teachings at their sessions focus on topics as diverse as basic Christian doctrines, relationships and tithing. She said the insights from the teachings are integrated into members' lives "because the process is continuous."
"There is also a certain discipline involved, because you've got to do activities on a regular basis, like prayer time," both said. They admitted that activities like these brought them closer to God, each other and their children.
"Our involvement gave us peace and there were lots of changes in our lives as husband and wife," said Flora Sankee, 63, married to Henry Sankee, 66.
This couple from Saskatoon regularly attends the conferences and other gatherings in Western Canada because there is no "household" - a group of couples - in Saskatoon.
"Whenever there is teaching about Our Lord, I wanted to go. I wanted to learn," Flora said.
Flora, a native of Patuanak, Sask., attributes her husband's coming to Church to Couples for Christ.
A young couple from Toronto echoes that experience.
"It has affected our family life tremendously, said Sonny Cruz, 39, married to Elsa Cruz, 39.
He said God became the centre of their lives, so they became more understanding of each other because they do not focus on themselves but on God.
"Because of what we have learned from the Couples for Christ, we are prepared to teach spiritual values our child needs to know," added Elsa.
When asked how they got involved in this ministry, Elsa Sabas recalled that their friends in the Philippines tried to recruit them but failed.
"We were always running away from them because we were too busy. We're both workaholics," admitted Elsa.
In 1992, Ricky Cuenca, a brother of Rudy and Elsa's friend, visited them. Cuenca was national coordinator for Canada at that time. They thought he was just visiting Ottawa.
"We did not know that his visit would lead to our involvement, but he came on a mission. We were ready to bring him around Ottawa but instead he asked us to gather people that we know. That was just the start. We ended up helping in organizing the group in Ottawa," Elsa said
They never thought that they would become part of this ministry. "But I think God was calling us to do this ministry and we welcomed that call," added Rudy.
Louie and Angie, who celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this month, have been involved with this ministry for 20 years. They were one of the first 50 couples that started in Manila.
Louie has been doing mission work for couples in Africa. As country coordinator for Ghana, he visits Ghanaian couples twice a year.
Couples for Christ, a lay-initiated ministry, began in Manila, Philippines, in 1981. It has since spread to 86 countries.
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