An interview with Elvira De Los Angeles Sanchez-Migallon and Jose Maria Martinez Checa
Elvira de los Angeles Sanchez-Migallón Royo and Jose Maria Martinez Checa, born in Manzanares (Ciudad-Real) and Milmarcos (Guadalajara), are respectively 62 and 65 years old. Married since 1972, they have six children and fifteen grandchildren; they teach Spanish Language and Literature, History and Geography, are founding members of the general coordinators of Equipos Itinerantes de Pastoral Familiar (EIPAF; Traveling Family Ministry Teams), and host Radio Maria’s program on family spirituality; in addition, they occasionally speak at conferences and family days.
1) Which new initiatives have you promoted in recent months to strengthen the groups? Did you introduce new ecclesial movements and associations into the project?
«For the strength of the group, the management of EIPAF’s diocesan coordinator is very important, and this is reinforced by the presence of a chaplain, who assembles the on a regular basis for prayer, for formation on issues concerning family ministry, to inform them about the latest developments, publications and events in the universal Church related to family ministry, to share what is happening in the life of EIPAF in the different parishes they visit, and for new projects. Besides evangelizing families, with the help of the programmatic document that best defines the life and duties of family ministry (in Spain the Directory of Family Ministry, in Latin America could be the Aparecida Document, or any other programmatic document, indicated for the integral formation of the family in the church, e.g. National Directories of Family Ministry), special attention is given to the Mission’s importance and the question of whether it has achieved the goal of forming the parish family ministry team, intended to care for the life of families, just as Caritas cares for those living in poverty. Regarding the new additions, it can be said that all the major charismas of the Church in which the family is represented, participate in EIPAF diocesan groups. Small dioceses, where the number of charismas is limited, count with the collaboration of family ministry agents trained in the different Institutes of studies on the family, and especially couples with the MSc in marriage and the family, from the Pontifical Institute John Paul II, recognized for its prestige and loyalty to Church».
2) Can you tell us about a special grace that has stimulated the development of the EIPAF?
«All in the EIPAF there is a pure grace and a gift, and the favorable reception, from the outset, by the church hierarchy was especially providential: the PCF, the EEC’s Subcommittee on Family and Life, and among all diocesan bishops pastors, when informed, not one objected, but all manifested their satisfaction and gave us letters of introduction, advising the implantation in the diocese, favoring the diocesan Mission, asking that in all the dioceses visited EIPAF to be formed, baptized with the Marian name the diocese’s patron, and prepare to serve, with much prayer and study for the good development of the Mission. I can’t fail to mention the existence of EIPAF’s first martyr, as Fr. Ramon Vita, at the time pastor of the parish of Our Miraculous Lady in Madrid, called him; Fr. Vita was present when Louis, Caridad’s husband, a bonding couple in the parish, was preparing to give the final talk on family ministry, at the close of the EIPAF Walk “Madre de la Vida,” offered his life to the church, while working to realize the project of forming the Family Ministry team, when a massive heart attack took him to heaven. The intercession of Luis (for EIPAF: the “model” of bonding couples in the parishes) is evident, when one see the commitment and effective management, accomplished by bonding couples in parishes: helping the priest to prepare the activity and in the Mission of forming the family ministry team that welcomes families and forms family groups, who transform the different times of the family, into true subjects of evangelization, witness of faith, and attract new families the parish community».
3) How do you bring together ecclesial entities with charismas that are so different and make them collaborate without sterile disagreements?
«That was the first hurdle, which delayed the beginning of the formation of the first diocesan EIPAF: the hierarchy feared what the question expresses. Yet, by sheer grace, that didn’t happen. The different movements and charismas naturally incorporated themselves in EIPAF, without any problems or friction, since persons belonging to different movements and charismas of the Church collaborate in EIPAF, in such a way that their movement, spirituality or charisma, is not affected or altered in any way, because EIPAF doesn’t impose a particular spirituality. EIPAF’s spirituality is the spirituality of the Church of Rome, depository of the Gospel, of grace and of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which enable us to serve; the only thing the EIPAF do is receive the wealth of spirituality that the Lord placed in the charismas, and channel it through evangelizing families, by living the normal ecclesial communion.No movement has shown opposition or discontent; however, two, that don’t need to be named, have statutes that prohibit the inclusion in a mission different from the one proposed by the charisma; they prefer to participate in EIPAF as diocesan pastoral agents – and there’s no problem with that –, for the development of the Mission. However I do note, that it is impossible to reconcile the imposition of a charisma with EIPAF’s dynamics of communion, in the following case: There is a diocese, whose bishop has authorized the Mission, and the diocesan delegate of the Family Ministry, belonging to a particular charisma, has stopped it, because of his eagerness to impose the dynamism of his own charisma in the diocese, thus breaking the ecclesial nature and communion of EIPAF, which continues hoping for a greater opening in the future for the reception of all the charismas in the communion of the EIPAF. The difficulty doesn’t come from the people who constitute the EIPAF, but from the excessive zeal of some Family Ministry delegate for their own charismas, which makes implementation and development of diocesan EIPAF difficult».