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A Family Mission
Protecting faith and family in the Philippines

As a missionary for Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life, Xavier Padilla has traveled throughout the Philippines, where the group was founded, as well as a number of other countries. He brings the Catholic Church’s message of the centrality of the family in society, and seeks to educate young people on matters of the sanctity of life, responsible sexuality and faith.

Xavier and Dester Padilla with their two children.

Xavier and Dester Padilla with their two children.

Padilla, 35 years old, lives with his wife, Dester Yupano Padilla, and their two children just outside of the capital city of Manila. He and his wife represented the Philippines last March at the International Youth Forum in Rome, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

He spoke with Fathers for Good about the work of Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life (www.cfcffl.org) and the challenges to family life in the Philippines.

Fathers for Good: How do you seek to live the Catholic faith as a father, and bring the faith to your family life?

Padilla: I come from a Catholic family, and was brought up as a Catholic. I have had no problem with my faith and living out my faith, as I have seen this in my parents and in the families they came from. My dad comes from a family of 10 siblings; and my mom from a family of 14 siblings. So I have always seen the loving and caring aspect of family. Of course, there will be disagreements and frustrations, but I always saw that these were worked out, and always with love.

So I try to bring that experience of love and understanding to my own family as well. Because the best way we can teach our children about what it means to be Catholic, is to be a witness to them of our faith. Whether we feel good or bad, we are their best examples of how they should live out their lives as well.

FFG: What is your work with Couples for Christ?

Padilla: I am a missionary for Couples for Christ. I started in 1997, fresh out of college. I have been able to work with people of all ages and races, as CFC FFL is all around the world. I have worked with youth, single professionals, young married couples, old couples, kids. And I have been blessed enough to go to Latin America, Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, North America – all for the ministry.

I became a missionary because I felt God’s call for me to “spread his love to as many people around the world as fast as I can.” And that keeps me going until now.

FFG: How does Couples for Christ seek to support marriages and family life?

Padilla: CFC FFL provides a support group to married couples and families to live out their Catholic faith fully and firmly. My wife and I have been married almost four years, but we know that we would have had a harder time if not for CFC FFL. We see examples of good marriages and struggling marriages within the community. And we get to see marriages and families that work because of the work that is put in it. We also get to hear stories and personal testimonies that help us deal with the same issues that come up in our own marriage.

If I learned one important thing (and I am still learning), it is that married life is a decision to love every day.

FFG: Mention the dangers to Philippine family life in terms of secular and western influences.

Padilla: There are so many dangers to the family, more so now. The influence of the west is even stronger – with the influx of TV shows, movies, music – all telling the young that they can be whoever they want to be, with no consequence, and not to let anyone stop them or get in their way. Not even their parents. We are being bombarded with the ideology that once you are an adult, then you decide for yourself, and you have no attachments to your family. Which is very opposite to what Filipino values are – very family oriented.

Contraceptives, feminism, homosexuality, abortion are all being pushed here, and the Filipinos are all slowly being brainwashed into thinking that these are all acceptable – with no questions asked. And if you do question, then you are a hypocrite and live in the olden times.

Recently, there have been pronouncements in the media to teach valueless sex education to 10 year olds in public schools. And even to kids in kindergarten. And there is also the Reproductive Health Bill, which has been reintroduced at every Congress, but has not yet been passed, though with the new national administration open to it, it may become a reality this time.

FFG: What are the threats from the Reproductive Health bill?

Padilla: This bill introduces, among other things, sex education in schools through all year levels; imprisonment for anyone who speaks against the bill; forced reproductive health services for all companies, schools and organizations. So this would include religious organizations, Catholic schools, etc.

Families are the only way to defeat the bill. If families say they don’t want this for themselves, and make their case heard; then this Bill can be stopped. If parents took the time to teach their children about sex, with the values that come with being a Catholic and a Filipino, then there would be no need for a valueless sex education in schools. If families have good, uplifting relationships within the family, then there would be less successful attacks on the family.

The family needs to be strengthened. And we need to help provide the tools to parents to be involved in the lives of their children. And be good examples to them in every aspect of their lives. That would defeat the bill. And not only the bill, but anything else that would try to hurt the family.