The first CFM groups began in the early 1940s in South Bend, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois. Burnie Bauer and his wife Helene formed a Young Christian Students group in 1940. They began to include couples into their group where they used the Jocist Method (observe/judge/act) to help young married couples with their problems trying to focus on having a Christ-centered marriage. Pat Crowley and six other men began to meet in a law office in Chicago in February 1942 to discuss the laymen’s role in the church community. Using the Jocist Method they began to focus their discussions on the relationship of husband and wife in relation to the church. The group hosted a day of husband and wife recollection in 1943 that marks the start of the Cana Conference. The wives of these men began to form a group that birthed the Pre-Cana Conference (the Catholic Church’s conference for engaged couples). The Christian Family Movement was born when Burnie and Helene Bauer and Pat and Patty Crowley met each other at the Cana Conference in August 1948.
The Christian Family Movement had its first national seminar in June 1949 where it was represented by 59 delegates from 11 different cities. Pat and Patty Crowley were first elected to be the Executive Secretary Couple where they led the movement for the next 20 years. CFM had become a nation-wide movement. This was shown through its first publication (ACT), its official recognition by the church, and the way that CFM groups from other cities were able to communicate with each other. The first CFM program was called For Happier Families and was dispersed to over 2,500 groups within the span of a year.
The CFM moved through the country at a fast pace in the 1950s. In the 1960s CFM even caused the formation of such new organizations as the Foundation for International Cooperation (FIC) and the Christian Family Mission Vacation. The next big move of CFM was the formation of the International Confederation of Christian Family Movements (ICCFM) in 1966 which placed CFM in over 50 nations.
CFM members in 1975 wrote and tested a family centered drug awareness campaign that was published by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. They also worked together on the U.S. Bishop’s Call the Action manuscript about the “Family”. Members became joined in with the White House Conference on Families and were able to present eight position papers in 1979 and 1980. CFM and ICCFM contributed to Pope John Paul II’s council on issues dealing with the family.
Responding to the U.S. Catholic Bishops' call that the 1980s be the Decade of the Family, CFM supplemented its annual program with special publications for teens, widows, families in crisis, families affected by divorce and separation, and middle-years families. In 1987, CFM contributed to the U.S. Bishops' preparation for the synod in Rome on the Vocation and Mission of the Laity in the Church and in the World. Six years later, CFM again offered input to the U.S. bishops for their 1994 pastoral letter, Follow the Way of Love. CFM's work to enhance the quality of Christian family life has been recognized by the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM) and it received a Circles of Peace Award from the Families Against Violence Advocacy Network (FAVAN) in 1999.
Since, 1994 CFM has published a column called “Taking the Time to Make a Difference", written by Paul Leingang, that has received several awards for excellence in spirituality from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada. In 1999 CFM celebrated its 50 year anniversary and was awarded the Salt and Light Award by the Hillenbrand Institute.
More recently, CFM participated in the Pontifical Council for the Family in 2009 and the Marriage Summit of Catholic Family Life Organizations, which was organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2012.
Read more about this topic: Christian Family Movement
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