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CFM Today

The Christian Family Movement is a concrete expression of the family as “domestic church” in which members live their faith actively. CFM continues to reach out in action to inspire families to follow Christ and live their faith joyfully and generously.

CFM is a member of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers, NACFLM.

CFM is listed in the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Directory of Lay Movements, Organizations, and Professional Associations, and we maintain a cordial and productive relationship with the staff of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth. CFM National Presidents served as advisors to the Bishop’s Committee on Marriage and Family from 2002-2005.

CFM has been an active participant in the National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage, which began in 2005. CFM participated in the 2012 Summit on Marriage organized by the U.S. Bishops to promote a coordinated effort among Catholic lay organizations.

CFM leaders were invited by the Pontifical Council for the Family to present models of effective action for evangelization in 2009, in Rome (click here for Press Release). Of the programs considered, The Grand Adventure: A New Call to Grandparenting, by Deacon Gary and Kay Aitchison, past presidents of CFM, was honored in 2010.

Many expressions of CFM are active in many countries worldwide, all of which cooperate as the International Confederation of Christian Family Movements, ICCFM. In the United States, CFM is known as MFC – Movimiento Familiar Cristiano Catolico, which has more than 5,000 member families.

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CFM Active for the Mission of the Church

The National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers presented CFM with its special-recognition award in 1993 for enhancing the quality of life for families. Three years later, CFM was one of the founding members of the Families against Violence Advocacy Network. In 1999, CFM received FAVAN’s Circles of Peace Award.

In that same year, CFM celebrated 50 years of forming families through action with a gala jubilee celebration at the University of Notre Dame, and the Hillenbrand Institute awarded CFM its prestigious Salt and Light Award. Today CFM continues to promote awareness about domestic violence as a member of Catholics for Family Peace.

In 1987, CFM contributed to a consultation with the U.S. bishops in preparation for the synod in Rome on the Vocation and Mission of the Laity in the Church and in the World. CFM also provided input to the U.S. bishops’ 1994 pastoral, Follow the Way of Love.

A regular feature in CFM’s ACT Newsletter, Taking the Time to Make a Difference, a syndicated column by CFM leader Paul Leingang, has been repeatedly honored by the Catholic Press Association.

The 1980s were designated by the U.S. Catholic Bishops as the Decade of the Family, and CFM took action to address the diverse needs of families. In addition to annual inquiries, special programs were also published for the widowed, divorced and separated, teens, families in crisis, and middle-years families.

In 1979 and 1980, CFMers became involved in the White House Conference on Families, presenting eight position papers. The Movement, along with ICCFM, provided input to Pope John Paul II's 1980 Synod on the Family. In 1975, CFM wrote and piloted a family-oriented drug awareness program published by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The next year, they helped formulate the U.S. Bishops' Call to Action document on "Family."

In 1966, the International Confederation of Christian Family Movements, ICCFM, was founded to coordinate CFM in some 50 nations. Two years later, in 1968, CFMers hosted Spanish CFMers who brought the Marriage Encounter to the United States. The idea for La Leche League emerged at a 1956 Christian Family Movement picnic. All but one of the founders of the League were members of the Movement.

For an index of the documents in the archives concerning CFM and the persons who were important in starting the movement, click on this link: Notre Dame Archives CFM Papers.

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The First CFMers

From its beginnings, CFM has been a grassroots movement with action for justice always at its heart. In the United States, CFM groups have adapted to the times but bear a strong resemblance to those that launched the Movement in the 1940s.

CFM quickly spread across the country in the 1950s and went on to generate new ideas and new organizations in the 1960s. The first was the Foundation for International Cooperation. FIC placed foreign students in homes and continues today to sponsor family tours to other countries. The second, the Christian Family Mission Vacation, enabled entire families to help the impoverished for two summer weeks.

Two CFM groups emerged, almost simultaneously, in the early 1940s -- one in South Bend, Indiana, one in Chicago, Illinois.

Burnie Bauer was a member of the first Catholic Action group started by Father Louis Putz, C.S.C., at the University of Notre Dame. After leaving Notre Dame in 1940 and marrying, he formed a Young Christian Students group. Subsequently, Burnie and his wife Helene expanded this group to include couples. They applied the Jocist method of Observe, Judge, and Act to the common problems of young married couples trying to live Christian lives.

In February 1942, a group of seven men began meeting in a Chicago law office, arguing and theorizing about the role of the layman in the church. Pat Crowley was one of these. They, too, used the Jocist method and in time moved into issues of husband-wife relationships. In 1943, they sponsored a day of recollection for husbands and wives. This action was the beginning of the Cana Conference. At about the same time, the wives formed their own group, and one of their actions spawned the Pre-Cana Conference.

When Helene and Burnie Bauer met Pat and Patty Crowley at the Cana Convention in August 1948, the nucleus of the Christian Family Movement was formed.

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Spreading the Word

In June of 1949, 59 delegates, representing the Movement in 11 different cities, met for the first national seminar. By this time, CFM had its own publication, ACT, contact with similar groups in other cities, and official church recognition. Pat and Patty Crowley were elected Executive Secretary Couple and served as leaders of CFM for nearly 20 years. Within a year, more than 2,500 copies of the first CFM program, For Happier Families, were distributed. CFM had become a nation-wide movement.

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CFM National Presidents

Pat and Patty Crowley1949-1968
Ray and Dorothy Maldoon1968-1977
Bob and Irene Tomonto1977-1981
Gary and Kay Aitchison1981-1985
Wayne and Sue Hamilton1985-1989
Peter and Carolyn Broeren1989-1993
Paul and Jane Leingang1993-1997
Chuck and Jan Rogers1997-2001
Peter and Jane Buchbauer2001-2005
John and Lauri Przybysz2005-2009
Bob and Anne Tomonto2009-2013
Tom and Mary Kay Halpin2013-present

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Jocist Movement and CFM

Click See--Judge--Act--How young Christian Workers Renewed the Church for an article from "Salt of the Earth" magazine by Meinrad Scherer-Edmunds explains the work of Joseph Cardijn and origins of the Jocist movement which developed into CFM in the United States.

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