Christian Family Movement

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The Christian Family Movement (CFM) consists primarily of married couples who act together on matters affecting not only their own but other families. Its basic unit is made up of five to seven married couples, usually from the same parish. They meet regularly in each others' homes to discuss the application of Scripture to their lives and to investigate a social problem or situation. It originated out of a desire to understand and implement the role of the laity in the Church and out of a conviction that couples could assist each other in enhancing married and family life, as well as in contributing to the betterment of society. CFM's meaning and purpose found endorsement in the documents of Vatican Council II. The couples act individually or with fellow members to affect some situation locally, nationally, or even internationally. The CFM groups are concerned not only with the betterment of their own family situations but also with the life of families everywhere.

The origins of CFM were in a men's Catholic Action group started in Chicago in 1943 and transformed into a couples' organization in 1947. Two years later a national coordinating committee was formed for the exchange of ideas and experiences. Since then groups have been established in most of the dioceses of the U.S. and in Canada. Similar groups, often using the same program, have been developed in North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.

From its beginning CFM adopted and used the "Jocist technique" or social inquiry method of Observe JudgeAct (attributed to Canon Joseph cardijn of Belgium and the Young Catholic Workers). In this method each individual observes and gathers facts on a particular problem; the problem is judged by the group; then a practical action is agreed to be taken. The distinctive characteristic of CFM is the actions taken by its members on social issues such as international life, politics, and family life. The national organization encourages and assists in these areas principally by providing "Social Inquiry" programs. Annual programs and various publications, including the monthly bulletin Act, are prepared by the coordinating committee and issued from national headquarters in Evansville, Illinois.

Another characteristic of the national movement has been the generation of several new organizations. In 1966, the International Confederation of Christian Family Movements (ICCFM) was founded to coordinate CFM in some 50 nations. The Foundation for International Cooperation (FIC) grew out of a CFM inquiry on foreign students. FIC fosters student exchanges and international family-to-family visiting. The concept of creative use of leisure led to CFMVThe Christian Family Mission Vacation. CFM created the Marriage Encounter in Spain. CFM in the U.S. sponsored in 1968 a tour by more than 100 Spanish couples and chaplains, who conducted encounters for Spanish-speaking couples throughout the country. The first Marriage Encounter in English was given following a CFM convention at Notre Dame in 1967.

From its inception the movement saw itself as broadly Christian and open to all Christians. There was a small but significant Protestant membership particularly in Episcopal Church parishes. In 1968 the executive committee formally declared that CFM was indeed open to all Christians and took measures to encourage expansion in Protestant Churches. Participation by Protestants slowly increased among members, committees, leaders, and staff.

CFM is administered by a board of directors comprising official couples and contact couples from the various geographical regions across the U.S. A national office is maintained in Evansville, Ill. Records and documents of CFM are available at the library of the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana.

[p. and p. crowley/

d. and r. maldoon/eds.]

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Christian Family Movement

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