Movement's History : Important Dates in the History of Teams of Our Lady
Historical context : The creation of a movement of couples, that wish to become holy through the sacrament of marriage, was a great event in the Church, a true revolution.
Teams of Our Lady is a movement of married spirituality and a way of belonging to a team within a ‘Christian community of couples.’ At the time, this was considered to be a novelty and now is considered to be a charism, a gift from God to his Church.
Back in 1938, four young couples, committed Christians, wished to live their love in the light of their faith. They asked Father Caffarel to guide them in this search. “Let us look and seek together,” replied Father Caffarel. February 25th, 1939, saw the first meeting in Paris. Gradually during the following meetings, these young couples realised that marriage was the living image of the love that unites Christ to his Church.
The Charter of Teams of Our Lady came into existence and the notion of married spirituality was elaborated. The movement developed rapidly in France, Belgium, and Switzerland and then throughout Europe, South America and North America.
General theme: "Teams of Our Lady, an International Movement"
900 team members attended, confirming the Movement.
General Theme: “The Vocation and Direction of Teams of Our Lady”
Pope John XXIII received approximately 2050 team members.
The Teams of Our Lady Movement was officially recognised by the Church with the approbation of its statutes by His Eminence, Cardinal Maurice Feltin, Archbishop of Paris.
General Theme: “Teams of Our Lady in the service of a new commandment” In front of 7000 team members, Father Caffarel reiterated the vocation of the Movement: the mystique of sharing, fraternal charity and service within the Church.
General Theme: “Human Love is a Way to Holiness” 2000 couples and 200 Spiritual Counsellors from 23 countries heard Pope Paul VI corroborate “the specific vocation of couples united by the sacrament of marriage.” The Teams of Our Lady Movement took on an international dimension from here onwards.
Father Caffarel decided to retire and hand over to a young team of responsible couples, along with Father Roger Tandonnet, as their Spiritual Counsellor.
The Teams of Our Lady is officially recognised by Rome as an International Catholic Association.
General Theme: “Teams of Our Lady in the Service of Evangelisation”
After the official recognition of the Movement, the Responsible Team put together a document that updated the Charter, entitled “What a Team of Our Lady is: additional material for the Charter.” Pope Paul VI in his speech to the Team members declared, “Remain how you were on the first day… a true school of spirituality for married couples.” The Youth Teams of Our Lady grew out of this gathering.
6th INTERNATIONAL GATHERING, ROME (September 1982)
General Theme: “Christ Walks with Us”
Pope John Paul II welcomed 5000 team members and told them that, “Christian marriage is a Passover.”
Regional Responsible couples from Europe met at Chantilly, May 3rd, 1987 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Charter. Father Caffarel gave an important speech there, entitled “The Founding Charism of the Teams of Our Lady.”
General Theme: “Second Wind”
“Second Wind” was the departure point, a reference text; a call for creativity, aimed at all teams the world over. In this spirit, 3400 couples and 260 priests assembled at Lourdes to confirm the mission of the Teams of Our Lady: to ensure the diffusion of married spirituality, by reminding all that the sacrament of marriage demanded abnegation and that it is the way to love, happiness and holiness.
Decree of the Pontifical Council for the Laity: recognition of the Teams of Our Lady as an international association of the faithful and approval of its statutes ad experimentum.
General Theme: “Being a Family in Today’s Church and in the World ”
Within the framework of the International Year of the Family, 5200 team members representing 49 countries gathered at Fatima and were invited to “the Wedding Feast of Cana.”
At the age of 93, Father Caffarel died on September 18th, 1996 at Troussures, France, a house, where upon his departure from the Movement in 1973, he had set up a “school of personal prayer.” He is buried in the cemetery of Troussures. Cardinal Lugister, Archbishop of Paris, called Father Caffarel, “a prophet for our times” in his eulogy.
The 50th anniversary of the promulgation of the founding charter was celebrated in all countries, while an international ceremony was held in the Crypt of St Augustine’s Church, Paris. A message from Pope John Paul II was read out at this ceremony where he presented the Teams of Our Lady as “a catalyst for renewal within the Church.”
General Theme: “The Couple, an image of a Trinitarian God”
3400 couples and 300 Spiritual Counsellors from 57 countries gathered and Pope John Paul II reminded them that the Teams of Our Lady had “a mission to propose married and family spirituality that is firmly anchored in the sacrament of marriage.”
Decree of the Pontifical Council for the Laity: recognition of Teams of Our Lady as a Private International Association Of The Faithful and definitive approval of its statutes.
General Theme: “Couples Called by Christ to the New Covenant”
260 people, mainly Regional Responsible Couples, attended from around the world to think about the perspectives and priorities of the Movement for the subsequent years. Pope John-Paul II received the team members in a private audience.
General Theme: “Teams of Our Lady: living communities of couples and reflections of Christ’s Love.”
8100 members of the Movement from over 50 countries worldwide met in Lourdes. This gathering saw the opening of the Cause for Canonisation of Father Caffarel.
To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Charter, the International Leading Team invited older team members (35 couples and 4 Spiritual Counsellors) to a gathering in Massabielle (a retreat house in the Paris suburbs, owned and run by Teams of Our Lady) on the theme of “Memories and Perspectives.” A festive mass was organised on Saturday, December 8th in the Church of St Augustine, Paris, with the older Team members, the International Leading Team and a great number of team members.
General Theme: “I am among you as one who serves.”
This phrase from Luke 22, 27 was the theme around which 124 couples and 8 Spiritual Counsellors from all over the world met. All the speeches, testimonials and workshops stressed the urgency of service and the importance of the mission to be witnesses to God’s love.
The Association of the Friends of Father Caffarel supports the cause of his canonisation, but also wanted to contribute to making the person and work of Father Caffarel better known. To this end, they organised a scientific colloquium at the College des Bernardins, Paris, December 3-4, 2010.
General Theme: “Dare to live the Gospel”
3500 couples and roughly 500 Spiritual Counsellors participated in this gathering. It was the first time that the gathering was held outside of Europe and reflected the international spirit of the Movement. The orientation for the next 6 years, 2012-2018, based on the theme of Meeting, were articulated around three ideas: Couples: Dare to immerse your heart in Christ’s Love; Dare to Welcome and Look After Mankind; Dare to go out into the World in the service of the Church.
The final and complete dossier for the Cause for Canonisation was sealed, before being transferred to Rome, at a solemn ceremony presided over by Monsignor Moulins-Beaufor t, auxiliary bishop of Paris at St Augustine’s Church, Paris (Father Caffarel’s old parish).