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CFM News

Monthly CFM News blasts were started in 2015.  Here are the recent editions.  Sign up to receive CFM emails here.


News in the 2000s

  • Deacon Gary and Kay Aitchison, past presidents of the Christian Family Movement, have been invited to be the key speakers at the fall Senior Enrichment workshop and lunch, on November 22, 2014. The workshop is hosted by the Archdiocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Catholic Charities Office for Pro-life and Social Ministry and the Office for Evangelization and Faith Formation. The Aitchisons will describe a model for parish grandparenting groups, “The Grand Adventure: a New Call to Grandparenting,” which they developed and presented to the Pontifical Council for the Family in Rome, Italy, in 2010. An afternoon discussion will be led by CFM chaplain Father Donald Conroy, now stationed in Indiana, PA, and members of the Grandmothers Corp of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Parish, of which he is also chaplain. The Grandmothers Corp will be in Greensburg to describe how the grandparenting model has taken shape in Indiana, PA.

    The Aitchisons have written a number of informative guides for the USCCB and the Pontificium Concilium pro Familia including: Models, Mentors, and Memory Makers (2012); Grandparents, Keepers of the Family Stories (2013); Grandparents: Evangelizers of the Family (2014) and Making the Most of Grandparents’ Talents (2014). They reside in Ames, Iowa, and have welcomed 14 grandchildren into their own family. Fr. Conroy is the chair of the National Institute for the Family in Washington, DC and currently serves CFM at as chaplain of the US and Canada Christian Family Movements. The US Christian Family Movements, in English and Spanish, together total over 8,000 families.


  • Past CFM USA and ICCFM Presidents Gary and Kay Aitchison and their Granparenting Program were featured on the Vatican Family Office webpage recently. Click here for the article.


  • The preparatory document for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome in October 2014 encourages lay movements like CFM to build up and help families. "Families belonging to these communities exercise a vibrant apostolate and, judging from the past, are instrumental in the evangelization of many families. Their members offer a credible witness with their lives of fidelity in marriage, mutual respect, unity and openness to life.?" May the Lord use the CFM for his mission! Read the full text of the document here, especially nos. 48 and 58: Synod on the Family Document.


    Pope Francis
    Pope Francis


  • July 18-20, 2014, Chicago, IL: International CFM Presidents Jorge and Rosalinda Carrillo met the CFM Board Members, CFM families and Bishop Rassas at St. Clement Parish. They made a presentation of how CFM has enjoyed amazing growth in Mexico by engaging couples in a formation program that calls them to conversion, provides a marriage encounter, and teaches them how to take in their communities. The three “Levels” of the CFM experience used by the Latin American movement, which has over 70,000 member families, invites couples into leadership and trains them to spread the movement to many new families every year. They told how the World ICCFM Headquarters are sending a training team to the emerging CFM group in Canada. Besides sharing their methods, the Carrillos especially shared their passion for the mission of CFM. They encouraged the directors and families to deepen their commitment to the Gospel and become missionary disciples of Christ to other families.


  • Effective September, 2013, Mary Kay Halpin is stepping down from her position as Member Services Director, to be replaced by Molly Dineen. Mary Kay and her husband, Tom, were recently elected to serve as the CFM-USA Board President Couple, so they will continue to serve CFM in their new role. The contact information for the National Office is unchanged.


  • August 19-21, 2013, Chicago, IL: John and Jule Ward, members of the CFM-USA board of directors, represented CFM at the annual J.S. Paluch Vocations Awareness Seminar in Chicago.


  • July 17-20, 2013, St. Louis, MO: John and Jule Ward, board members from Indiana, represented CFM at the USCCB Marriage Building Summit III and the NACFLM Conference (National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers).


  • July 14-16, 2013, Omaha, NE: CFM board members gathered at St. Vincent de Paul parish for the annual Summer Board Meeting.


  • June 28 – July 1, 2013, Bucaramanga, Columbia: CFM board members and ICCFM North American Continental Representatives, John and Lauri Przybysz, attended the ICCFM World Assembly XII.


  • February 15-17, 2013, Des Moines, IA: Bringing ideas and experiences from around the country, CFM National Board members gathered at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Des Moines, Iowa for the annual Winter Board Meeting.


  • October 2012, Manila, Philippines: A decision to seek canonization of Joseph Cardinal Cardijn (1882-1967) was agreed to at a recent meeting of Cardijn Community International (CCI) in Manila. Joseph Cardijn pioneered the cause of the youth, workers and lay participation in the Church. Cardinal Cardijn is widely regarded as the creator of the Observe, Judge, Act method used by CFM in its program guides. To find out more about Cardinal Cardijn, see


  • August 20-22, 2012, Chicago, IL: CFM-USA Spiritual Director represented CFM at the annual J.S. Paluch Vocations Awareness Seminar in Chicago.


  • July 25-28, 2012, Dallas, TX: CFM representatives, John and Lauri Przybysz and Dave Langer and Donna Richard-Langer attended the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers’ conference, "Strengthening Marriages and Families in Today’s Culture."


  • July 24-25, 2012, Dallas, TX: CFM representatives, John and Lauri Przybysz and Dave Langer and Donna Richard-Langer participated in the Marriage Building Summit sponsored by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Summit brought together representatives of a number of Catholic marriage and family organizations (Teams of Our Lady, Marriage Encounter, Retrouvaille, and others) to discuss and strategize how we can collaborate to build up marriages and families in the future.


  • July 20-22, 2012, South Bend, IN: The National CFM Board of Directors met at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in South Bend, IN. The attendees included CFM representatives from Illinois, Maryland, Florida, Southern California, Iowa, Nebraska, Virginia and Michigan.


  • March 2-4, 2012, Palatine, IL: At the Winter Board Meeting, CFM board members met with Bishop George Rassas of Chicago to discuss challenges affecting marriages and families today as well as ideas for how CFM can support marriage and family life.


    John and Lauri Przybysz, ICCFM Reps; Bishop George Rassas of Chicago; Donna and Dave Langer, CFM Secretaries
    John and Lauri Przybysz, ICCFM Reps; Bishop George Rassas of Chicago;
    Donna and Dave Langer, CFM Secretaries


  • July 30-August 1, 2011, Des Plaines, IL: The CFM Board welcomed his Eminence Francis Cardinal George to its semi-annual board meeting this weekend. Cardinal George listened to ideas from the Board about strengthening marriages and family life and he blessed the Board members and encouraged them to continue spreading CFM in more parishes.


    Father Tom Rzepiela, Spiritual Advisor, Francis Cardinal George, Presidents Bob and Anne Tomonto
    Father Tom Rzepiela, Spiritual Advisor; Francis Cardinal George of Chicago;
    Presidents Anne and Bob Tomonto


  • March 4-6, 2011, Miami, FL: At its semi-annual board meeting this weekend, the CFM board of directors presented the Hillenbrand Award to Fr. Don Conroy for his years of dedicated service to CFM. Fr. Conroy is currently serving as the North American Chaplain to the International Confederation of Christian Family Movements and previously serviced as the Chaplain for CFM-USA. Father Don is the fourth recipient of the award which is named after Msgr. Reynold Hillenbrand, who was the first national chaplain of CFM.


  • November 25-27, 2010, Villa Aurelia, not far from Vatican City, Italy: Gary and Kay Aitchison were invited to deliver a presentation to the International Congress for the Family: The Christian Family, Subject of Evangelization. The Congress was sponsored by the Pontifical Council on the Family. This meeting was the second phase of an initiative that began in 2009. The purpose of this second phase was to explore how the evangelizing function of families occurs within their own homes, in their various pastoral activities, in their civic commitment, and in the missio ad gentes or mission to the nations. At this meeting, the Aitchisons were invited by Ennio Cardinal Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council, to present their six-meeting grandparenting program for small groups at the upcoming Congress. Their CFM program, The Grand Adventure: A New Call to Grandparenting, was one of two programs from the United States that were chosen. The other, Retrouvaille, is an international program that works with troubled marriages. In all, 29 projects from throughout the world were selected for presentation. Gary and Kay serve as presidents of the International Confederation of Christian Family Movements.


    Gary and Kay Aitchison with Cardinal Antonelli 
    Gary and Kay Aitchison with Cardinal Antonelli


  • June 23-26, 2010, Cincinnati, OH: CFM attended the NACFLM (National Association of Catholic Family Lay Ministers) conference at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. Executive Director Couple Missy and Paul Parkison staffed a booth and presented a workshop focused on starting a CFM group using the Marriage Study starter kit. The theme of the conference, "Marriage-Building Parishes," focused on implementation of the USCCB’s (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) pastoral initiative for marriage.


  • March 2010, Los Angeles, CA: The Christian Family Movement hosted an exhibit booth for the first time this year at the Religious Education Congress hosted by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. This annual event draws 40,000 Catholics together each year to celebrate and explore ways to better share their faith. Executive director couple Paul and Missy Parkison traveled to California to represent CFM alongside local CFMers from St. Lawrence Martyr parish in Redondo Beach.


  • September 10-11, 2009, Rome, Italy: Past-Presidents of CFM, John and Lauri Przybysz and Father Donald Conroy, North American Chaplain of the International Confederation of Christian Family Movements were invited to Rome to make a presentation to the Pontifical Council for the Family under the leadership of Ennio Cardinal Antonelli. The three CFM representatives were among some 35 participants worldwide who were invited to discuss "The Family, Subject of Evangelization Within its Own Society and Parish." Click here for Press Release This meeting grew out of the Sixth World Meeting of Families, held in Mexico City in January of 2009, where an urgent need was recognized to promote the family's social and ecclesial role. In response, the Pontifical Council launched an initiative entitled, "The Family, Subject of Evangelization." In the first phase of the initiative, various countries were asked to send representatives to an exploratory meeting in Rome in the fall of 2009. Five Americans, including John and Lauri Przybysz and Fr. Don Conroy from the Christian Family Movement, were chosen by the Council to attend.


  • February 21, 2009, Arlington Heights, IL: Father Tom Rzepiela, pastor of St. Thomas of Villanova parish and long-time supporter of CFM, was presented with the Hillenbrand Award at a Mass at Our Lady of Wayside church in Arlington Heights, IL. President couple John and Lauri Przybysz, Severna Park, MD, presented Father Tom with the Hillenbrand award in recognition of his service as a CFM chaplain. Father Tom was recruited for CFM while he was stationed as a seminarian at St James in Arlington Heights, IL. After his ordination in 1972 he became chaplain of a group at St. Thomas of Villanova in Palatine, IL and served until 1979. He remained involved in CFM while he lived at Our Lady of the Wayside in Arlington Heights, IL from 1979 to 1987 when he was on the faculty at Mundelein seminary and served as chaplain of the Chicago federation from 1982 to 1987. He is currently chaplain of CFM at St. Thomas. Father Tom is the third recipient of the award which is named after Msgr. Reynold Hillenbrand, who was the first national chaplain of CFM. CFM is celebrating its 60th year in 2009.


  • July 6-8, 2007, Redondo Beach, CA: During the semi-annual board meeting at St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church, the CFM board was pleased to welcome newly appointed Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, chair of the bishops committee on Marriage and Family. Archbishop Kurtz celebrated Mass for the board and their children as the meeting opened. Later, he reported on the status of the National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage. The initiative is entering its third year and the bishops have recently unveiled their website, The website's thrust, "What have you done for your marriage today?" is echoed in a TV and radio campaign of public service announcements. The PSAs were screened for the board by Sheila Garcia, assistant director of the USCCB secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Women and Youth who accompanied Archbishop Kurtz. Mrs. Garcia led a discussion about the campaign and board members offered reactions to the announcements, issues that remained for the committee in regard to the initiative and opportunities for cooperation. The CFM program book for 2008 studies the state of marriage and its impact on society.


    Director, President, Deacon, Bishop and Chaplain. 
    Front: Directors Paul and Jane Leingang; Presidents Lauri and John Przybysz.
    Back: Deacon Jim Egnatuk, Chaplain of St. Lawrence CFM; Bishop Kurtz of Knoxville, TN;
    CFM USA Chaplain Fr. Don Conroy.

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In Memory


  • June 6, 2014: Two dedicated friends of CFM, Fr. Bill Young of Cleveland and Fr. Warren Metzler of Pittsburgh, celebrated 50 years of priesthood in the spring of 2014.

    Fr. Bill Young
    Fr. Bill Young
    Fr. Bill Young served as National Chaplain 1993-2002 and as International Chaplain from 2010-2013. He travelled all over the world for CFM, and attended the ICCFM conferences in Malta, Fatima, and India. He is a member of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament order and lived for many years at St. Pascal Baylon Parish in Highland Heights. He recently retired from ministry as hospital chaplain at the Cleveland Clinic. Past CFM presidents Peter and Carolyn Broeren attended his anniversary celebration and report that Fr. Bill is still spry and looking forward to continuing in hospital ministry part-time in New York, where his congregation has a residence. Other veteran CFMers from Cleveland also attended the anniversary dinner, along with parish staff and family members.
    Fr. Warren Metzler
    Fr. Warren Metzler
    Fr. Warren Metzler, pastor for 32 years at St. James Parish, Wilkinsburg, PA, served two separate terms as CFM’s National Chaplain: 1983-1985 and 1992-1993. His anniversary celebration was attended by many early CFM couples, including the Broerens and Bob and Lavern Sober, who belonged to his first CFM group at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Natrona Heights. Many other friends, the mayor of Wilkinsburg and many parishioners and family members gathered to share funny stories and memories. Fr. Warren said that two things formed him in ministry: CFM and Vatican II. It was from CFM, he said, that he learned collaborative ministry, shared decision-making and the true vision of Church as a pilgrim people, working together to achieve the work of the Kingdom. He gathered the Pittsburgh Federation leaders regularly in his parish, St. James, for leadership formation and fun. Working for peace and justice are his passion. He wrote the song “Let’s Go Build a Rainbow” to express the vision and hopes of CFM families for building a peaceful world, taking social action and experiencing fellowship. Fr. Metzler was active in the Peace Movement in the ‘80s. He helped find housing for European peace pilgrims who passed through Pittsburgh. His parish prays a Prayer for Peace after every Mass and Fr. Warren still wears his signature peace sign medal.


  • Fr. Bill Eckert passed away January 18, 2013. He was 85 years old. After serving as a missionary for 8 years in Brazil, Fr. Bill joined CFM in the early 1970’s, starting CFM groups first in Trenton, NJ. Fr. Bill served as the National CFM Chaplain from 1990-1992.


  • Ardy and Fred Grosskopf and their CFM group at St. Cletus in LaGrange, IL recently sent a donation in memory of their departed friends Harry and Bernice Opila. From Ardy and Fred's letter to the office: "Harry Opila passed away on August 23, 2012 and his wife, Bernice, preceded him in 2002. They were both active in CFM at the local, National and International levels. We miss them both and wanted to let CFM know."


  • Carol Toussaint of Arlington Heights, IL passed away on October 8, 2012 after a long illness. Carol was a former long time CFM member and a contributing writer to many of the CFM program books. Carol is also the mother of former CFM Board member, Tom Toussaint.


  • Rev. Peter Bowman passed away April 17, 2011 after a long illness. He was a great supporter of CFM, the chaplain of the Chicago Federation in the 1970s, said Mass during National Board meetings, and the pastor at St. James in Arlington Heights for seventeen years where he promoted CFM and helped it grow.


  • Monsignor Michael Lenihan passed away on March 23, 2011 after a long illness. He was a big supporter of CFM at St. Lawrence Martyr Parish in Redondo Beach, CA, and was the first recipient of the Msgr. Hillenbrand award in 2002. He will be missed by everyone in the SLM community.


  • Bob Tomonto at St. Louis parish in Pinecrest, FL passed away on May 7, 2009. Bob and Irene were president couple of CFM from 1977-1981. They had previously served as area leaders in New York from 1971-1973 and in Florida 1976-1995. Bob and Irene were faithful small group leaders for many years at St. Louis parish, even to the present time. Bob was a deacon of the Archdiocese of Miami. He was active in prison ministry along with work in the area of marriage and family life. At the request of Bishop Agustine Roman, Bob and Irene wrote Covenant Experience Weekend which has been so instrumental in building the community at St. Louis. They only recently passed leadership of the Covenent Experience to their son and his wife, Bob and Anne Tomonto. After years of faithful service to his family and his church, he goes now to his heavenly reward.


  • Former CFM National Board member Mary Lenehan died of colon cancer on March 13, 2009. She and husband Pat had been on the board from 1994-1998. They were leaders at St. Lawrence Martyr in Redondo Beach, CA before that and were still members.


  • Many of you will recognize the name of Phil Gorman. Phil and Mary Lou were federation leaders in Chicago and national board members from 1985 through 1999, representing Illinois and then later as expansion directors for the movement. Mary Lou continues to write a parenting column for the national newsletter, ACT. We are sorry to have to let you know that Phil Gorman died today, May 1, 2007. He had experienced a stroke yesterday evening and died at home at 11:00 am. Funeral arrangements are pending. Look for the obituary in the Chicago Tribune and the Arlington Heights (IL) edition of the Daily Herald. Condolences can be sent to Mary Lou in Palatine, IL 60074. Our deepest sympathy to Mary Lou and all the friends and family of Phil. He will be missed.


  • We have received news from Bob and Irene Tomonto that Father Jude Mili passed away on March 9, 2007. Fr. Jude was always a friend of families and CFM. He was a CFM Chaplain in New York in the late 1970's.


  • We have received news from former board member Mary Lou Gorman in Chicago that Marie O'Grady who was a member of the first CFM executive committee with her husband, Francis, has passed away in Sierra Vista, Arizona. There will be a memorial service for her at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago on the March 23, 2007, which would have been her 94th birthday. Mary Lou writes also that Marie was her godmother, as well as her first cousin.


  • Father Sam Palmer, who was Chaplain of CFM 1985-1990 and chaplain of International CFM from 1989 through 1995, died September 21 at 3 o'clock in Des Moines, Iowa. He struggled with the effects of ALS in the last two years of his life. He was a staunch supporter of CFM throughout his priesthood and a beloved friend to many. May he rest in peace.


  • We are saddened to announce the death of Patty Crowley on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 at her home in Chicago, Illinois, at the age of 92. Patty Crowley, with her husband Pat Crowley, was one of the founders of the Christian Family Movement in the United States. The Crowleys traveled extensively in the 1950's and 1960's spreading the Christian Family Movement. They were presidents of International CFM at the time of Pat's death in 1974. The creation of CFM was a unique moment in the history of the Church in America. It was the first Church movement to be started by the laity. It recognized marriage as a special gift to the Church and the world in a time when single sex organizations were the norm. Patty was no longer active in the movement after Pat's death, although she was involved in the 50th anniversary celebration of the movement at Notre Dame in 1999. She received many letters in recent years from those who wrote to say how important CFM was to their spiritual formation. She treasured these. She continued to respond to Christ's call in her life. In recent years she was particularly devoted to Deborah's Place, a shelter she founded for homeless women in Chicago. We thank God for the gift of Patty's life. May the Eternal Light shine upon her and may she rest in peace. (11/24/05)


  • Msgr. Paul Lackner died on Saturday, April 16. He authored the CFM prayer that we print in our books and was chaplain of the Pittsburgh Federation and a long time friend of the movement. He was promoting CFM to the last. (04/20/05)


  • Isabelle Leroux died in Ottawa this week after a long illness. She will be buried in Montreal on Friday, December 6. Isabelle Leroux along with her husband Rolly became executive secretary of CFM in Canada in 1971. In 1977 they succeeded Patty Crowley as presidents of the International Confederation of Christian Family Movements at its third General Assembly which was held in Manila. They organized the fourth assembly which was held in 1980 in Rome following the bishop's synod on the family that resulted in the document Familiaris Consortio. Their term of office ended in Guadalajara at the General Assembly in 1983. In 1989 the Lerouxs were appointed by Wayne and Sue Hamilton to serve as liaisons to United Nations in New York. They were recognized for their contributions to ICCFM with the Cardijn Award for service to ICCFM at the General Assembly in Malta in 1995. (12/04/02)


  • Monsignor Michael Lenihan, pastor emeritus of St. Lawrence Martyr parish in Redondo Beach, Calif., received the Reynold Hillenbrand Award for outstanding service as a CFM chaplain on November 16 at the annual "Thanksgiving Feast" of the CFM group there. National presidents Peter and Jane Buchbauer and national chaplain Father Donald Conroy were on hand to present the plaque to Monsignor Lenihan. Section leaders Dan and Noreen Thomas and Greg and Brenda Argano said that Monsignor Lenihan had shown outstanding support for the CFM group in his parish during his 21 years as pastor at St. Lawrence. In turn Monsignor Lenihan noted that he drew a great deal of support for the parish from the CFM group which was important in developing an active base of involved parishioners over his years as pastor. The Hillenbrand Award is named for the first national chaplain of CFM, Monsignor Reynold Hillenbrand of Chicago. Hillenbrand was key in setting the program agenda for CFM during the formative years of the movement in the 50s. In addition he worked with chaplains across the country to develop leadership for the movement. (12/02/02)


  • Gerald "Jerry" Prete died November 10. Jerry and his wife Anne have been members of CFM since 1950 when Pat and Patty Crowley organized a group at Our Lady of Angels parish there. Jerry was active in developing leadership training and motivation for CFM until the 1970's. As his life moved into action, he developed a mission of providing afforable housing for indigent seniors. There are about 30 multiple dwelling units around the US today thanks to his organizing efforts. From the mid 50s to 1995 the Pretes operated the Alverno Bookstore which they established when they observed that the needs of the CFM community were not being met by existing stores. Many who attended CFM conventions at Notre Dame or St. Mary's will remember their display and Jerry's smiling face under his rakish beret. (11/15/02)


  • Bernice Opila died on August 5. She was a long time (25 yrs) member of CFM along with her husband Harry. They were Chicago Federation officers for many years. (08/27/02)


  • Fr. Peter Sammon died March 21 at age 78 in San Francisco. Peter was a founding member of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM) and the 1985 recipient of the NACFLM annual award for his work in marriage ministry. He was still pastor at St. Teresa (30 years). (03/22/02)


  • Rose Lucey, CFM Pioneer, dies. See the November 2001 ACT for an article on Rose and Dan Lucey. A memorial service for Rose will be held at St. Andrew/St.Joseph parish in Oakland, CA, Sunday November 11. Contact the CFM USA Office for more info. (10/16/01)

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