APOLOGETICS is derived from the Greek word “Apologia” which means to defend the faith. Christianity is blessed with Apologists. In Acts 2:14:37, Peter stood for the faith.
St. Peter, the first Pope gave an apologetic discourse on Christ’s redemptive work. Countless saints in history also have the passion to defend the Holy Catholic faith, to name a few like St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Robert Bellarmine, and St. Francis de Sales, who converted thousands of Protestants back into the Catholic faith.
Apologetics is part of the prophetic ministry of the Church and the laity is an integral part of it. The task in defending the body of Christ (Col.1:18, Eph. 5:23) rests not only in the hands of our venerable priests and bishops but also with the laity, who when united with their local bishop and the pope forms the body of Christ. St. Peter in his first letter to the Catholic faithful mandates every believer to be ready in giving explanation for the faith.
“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)
Henceforth, apologetics is a universal vocation for every Catholic faithful, as St. Jude would say “contend for the faith that was once handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). With the rise of various challenges against the Catholic faith, the Second Vatican Council encourages the laity to engage in apologetics. “. . .the Council earnestly exhorts the laity to take a more active part, each according to his talents and knowledge and in fidelity to the mind of the Church, in the explanation and defense of Christian principles and in the correct application of the problems of our times.” (Apostolicam Actousitatem No. 6).
In response to the call of all the bishops united to the pope, the local Church in the Philippines sees it fitting to mandate the establishment of apologetic groups in the country. Thus, the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines says that “. . .parish priests should encourage the establishment of lay Catholic Faith Defenders.” (PCP II No. 222).
In response to this, various chapters of the Catholic Faith Defenders were established across the country.
The Catholic faith defender’s humble beginning can be traced back in 1935 at San Nicolas Parish in Cebu, where religious laymen together with their Parish Priest Fr. Undoy Reynes discussed Catholic doctrines and answered objections from Aglipayans which was prevalent in their time.
With the addition of Bro. Peter Cabaluna who was considered as “The Walking Bible” a small of group of Catholic Faith Defenders was born. In 1946, brothers Martin and Domingo Berido who were then assistants of Fr. Gerald Trenekeins, MSC of Virgen de la Regla (Virgin of the Rule) were already answering questions about the Catholic faith from those who dared to question it.
Furthermore, Msgr. Esteban Monticillo were already training laymen to stand in religious debates and taught them the biblical foundation of the Catholic faith, they then subsequently founded the Catholic Faith Defenders at Santo Rosario Parish, 1953.
In our modern times the Defenders are growing in numbers. From its bulwark in Cebu City, Defenders are now present in Manila, Quezon, Laguna, Cavite, Davao, Zamboanga, Ormoc, Cagayan De Oro, Tagum and many more. The CFD is composed of members from all walks of life which makes it capable of connecting to different types of people. Aside from Archdioceses and Parishes the Catholic Faith Defenders is also present in various Universities which provides for the intellectual and spiritual needs of the students like the University of Southeastern Philippines and University of Mindanao. The CFD closely coordinates with the Archdiocese to strengthen the faith of our Catholic brethren by providing them the reasons behind our Catholic faith.