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Standing Up for the Poor

Making a Difference - By Hermie ClimacoBy Hermie Climaco
Gawad Kalinga recently became a cause of rift within the Couples for Christ community that resulted in a split. It stemmed from concerns over a growing over-emphasis by the CFC on its Gawad Kalinga work which builds houses for the extremely poor people living in slum areas in the Philippines as allegedly causing the community to veer away from its primary work of evangelization.

The breakaway group, headed by former CFC International Director Frank Padilla, is now called Couples For Christ Foundation for Family and Life (CFC-FFL).

CFC members who cannot afford to turn their backs against the poor opted to stay with the original group headed by Jose Tale, a former Malacanang Deputy Executive Secretary who resigned two or three years ago from his post to work full time with CFC and GK. In a statement, Tale said, We cannot call our community a Christian community as long as there are people living under bridges. Hence, in spite of the conflict arising from GK, Tale announced, We will continue our Work with the Poor.

Thanksgiving
Maria, my Spanish classmate in EPS (Education-Parish-Service) at Trinity College was not so keen about celebrating Thanksgiving the way everybody else does. For her, thanksgiving is an everyday obligation to God. I thank God everyday too. But I also believe it will make a big difference if there is a single day in every year that we would stand still to meditate on the necessity of thanksgiving in our life, a time to focus on God alone, to reflect and to thank Him in a very special way for the many blessings that He has given us.

Last weeks Thanksgiving holiday afforded me the time to do that: focus on Gods goodness, look back and count my blessings. Here are some of those that I profoundly thank God for:

St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church. In less than a year that my family became a member of this Church, my familys spiritual life grew tremendously. The delayed baptism of my two children took place while my five older children finally had their first communion. I thank God for blessing us with our pastors, Fr. David Lupo, who is now in Massachusetts, but not before he opened up CFC at St. Margarets; Fr. Columban Crotty, our present pastor, who is so caring and thoughtful as well, also fully embracing CFC in our Church; I thank God for Sr. Maria Raphaela, our Christian Formation Director, who all the way guided the spiritual journey of my children and the whole family.

My OCIA (Order of Christian Initiation for Adults) team at St. Margarets Church: Bonny Joy, Fr. David Lupo, Deborah Hannah, Gail Carter, Jaci Harris, Jennifer Ferguson, Kimberly Smith, Sr. Maria, Michelle Watkins, Pierrette Michel, Renee Hart, Richard Hunt, Robin Smith and Ruth Thompson.

Manila Mail and our Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Bert Alfaro, for giving me the opportunity to become a writer.
My friends: Bing Branigin who was always there during our early struggles here in America. She is a very compassionate person always ready to help somebody when she sees one. She even supplied the milk requirements of my daughter Sunshine May all throughout her infant days. And she was once like a Santa Claus to us delivering presents to the house causing my children to leap with joy; Dr. Paul and Mimi Hebert who become like parents to me and my husband, Rey, and whom my children learned to call Grandpa and Grandma; Tina Price and Joyce Hall, new friends, but who jumped to their feet when they learned we are in urgent need of something; Maila Ordanez, a CFC sister, who was instrumental in my getting a job in Malacanang, and who always afterwards fought for my promotion.

My Couples For Christ community from whom I learned that what would make life meaningful and worth living is when you fully offer yourself in the service of others and of God, to become less of yourself and more for others and for God.

My CFC brothers and sisters who appear to be much more like real brothers and sisters to me because the blood that runs through us is the blood of Jesus Christ, which is more bonding, and stronger, than our biological blood.

My job, my family, and God.

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