Communication in times of difficulty

Number 8

Dear friends, we are happy to be able to greet you once again with this newsletter. We hope you will enjoy this page, which is a thread that unites us with one another, in anticipation of our virtual meeting in July.

We wish you a good reading

International Leading Team


Clarita & Edgardo BERNAL

International Responsible Couple




Vince Lombardi

Dear friends, couples, priest-counsellors and spiritual accompaniers of the Teams of Our Lady: It was very necessary for us to write to you again, because on this occasion, as we had already announced after the first issue of the year of #farbutnear, we have waited a few months longer than usual to bring out this new issue.

Before addressing the theme of this editorial, we would like to make a brief mention of the difficult times that some countries where our movement is present, are experiencing the pandemic with greater intensity. To them, we would like to express our solidarity and support in spirit and prayer.

We confess that at times we feel overwhelmed by the way in which the news, newspapers and networks disseminate the figures of deaths and infections caused by the pandemic. They refer to them in terms of records as if it were a championship, dehumanising death through cold statistics that trivialise the incalculable value of life.

The dreaded advance of the virus which in its course mutates and strengthens, has cycles that have been called the first, second, third and fourth waves. With an almost mathematical time lag, these waves have been experienced in both hemispheres. Currently, as I write these lines at the beginning of May, the daily contagions that are relentlessly hitting India, Brazil, the United States, Argentina, Poland, Mexico, Colombia and France are of particular concern.

The inequitable distribution and application of vaccines, conditioned by the economic power of countries and the false security of being able to save themselves by protecting the ever weaker borders of our global village, have not brought about the expected slowing down of the spread of the virus.

We pray to the Lord of Life and to Our Heavenly Mother, that the end of this nightmare may be hastened by an awareness of co-responsibility and mutual help that the world cries out to its leaders. They have the power to decide for us and we must support them with the strength of our communion and prayer for the Spirit to guide their steps.

It is in the context of this global crisis that Pope Francis has called for the celebration of the Amoris Laetitia Family Year, which began on 19 March and will conclude on 26 June 2022, when the postponed 10th World Meeting of Families, will be inaugurated.

This celebration, in these times that humanity is going through, takes on a very important meaning in the life of the church and in the life of TEAMS OF OUR LADY.

In the words Father Ricardo Londoño, international priest counsellor, addresses to us in this issue, he highlights the message of this second apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis. We invite the whole movement, if they have not already done so, to read it, taste it, internalise it and bring it to life.

As a lay movement with canonical statutes approved by the Vatican, we were invited on 16 March by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life to present to the thirteen movements represented at the meeting, the strategies and scope of the Vatican's initiatives to promote the incarnated living out of the message of Amoris Laetitia.

Pope Francis' idea is to reach out to the heart of ecclesial communities, lay movements, dioceses and parishes, and families so that from there and in the midst of this year of celebration, the exhortation will radiate to the whole world. The meeting with the Dicastery was also aimed at listening to and mutually enriching the experiences of the journey of each movement, from its specificity, in order to strengthen the strategies drawn up with a view to achieving the objectives set.

Alexandre Awi Mello and Gabriella Gambino, secretary and under-secretary of the Dicastery, explained what the Vatican expects from this year's Amoris Laetitita Family. It was very moving to hear that many of the objectives proposed by the Pope are already being put into practice by the movement.

The directions that have been set for years for our journey as a community indicate this, and this is how we expressed it when we were given the floor. We informed the Vatican that the work of the TEAMS OF OUR LADY movement is not our exclusive patrimony but a gift for the Church and for the world, which we wish to share and multiply.

Pope Francis’ objective for the celebration of this year's Amoris Laetitia Family, is expressed as follows: to let “people experience the Gospel of the family as a joy that fills hearts and lives”.... A family (we read, a family, from the love of the couple) that discovers and experiences both the joy of having a gift, and of being a gift to the Church and to society, “can become a light in the darkness of the world”.

We have no doubt that this purpose is in total harmony with the orientations that our movement is living, and that we must reinforce this wonderful opportunity that the church gives us. It is a chance to synchronise our hearts with the heart of the whole church and of the movements that, like us, walk with her, because we are Church.

What a beautiful occasion to reaffirm who we are and who we believe in, expressing it in thought, word and action.

Before we say goodbye, we want to share with you that the ERI has been working with great joy in the preparation of our second virtual meeting of the College that will take place from July 18th to 24th.

We have found an enthusiastic and committed response from the couples and priests who have been called to enrich the content of the college with their presentations and testimonies. This time the meeting of the College has as its motto and common thread: "Christian Marriage, leaven in the world".

As on the previous occasion, there will be a time of spiritual preparation before the meeting. This will leave us with a heart ready to live the meeting with joy and hope. While it could not be carried out in person, as we would have liked, it will in no way undermine our enthusiasm to live the faith in the strength of the community.

We are in the midst of a crisis created by the pandemic, which for a year and a half has marked the rhythm of our existence. In these meetings of faith, we feel Jesus is telling us: "Let us go to the other shore" to shake off the temptation of discouragement, change our perspectives and stop looking back. We are called to concentrate on planning how to build the future. It is in our hands and in our thoughts.

There are storms, and at times we feel the boat is fragile. But we can never forget that Jesus is with us in the boat and that, above all, he loves us and will never leave us alone. That alone is enough to keep us going!

Until next time, in the arms of Jesus and Our Mother who never ceases to intercede for her teams.

Father Ricardo Londoño
International SC

Message of Amoris Laetitia

When we listen to or read the messages of Pope Francis, we realise that it is perhaps the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia that has given rise to the greatest debate, controversy, and questions...

It is an extensive document in nine chapters that proposes a reflection on the realities of conjugal and family life. It is a proposal to see the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ who walks alongside marriages and families, who listens to them, understands and accompanies them and who, despite crises, difficulties, complex situations and suffering, does not abandon them.

The Pope proposes to us to perceive God's plan for marriage and the family. In the first chapter, he begins with some biblical quotations and stories in which he contemplates human love that symbolically manifests God's love. In the second, he looks at the challenges and dangers facing the family in today's world. The third focuses on the vocation of the family that looks to the person of Jesus and recognises the sacramentality of marriage. Then comes a beautiful fourth chapter, which delves into the reality of married love based on the hymn from the Letter to the Corinthians. In the fifth, he presents the fruitfulness of love in concern for others. The sixth chapter encourages us to look at pastoral perspectives in accompaniment, and the following chapter focuses on the education of children. The eighth chapter, possibly the most controversial, calls us to mercy and compassion as we contemplate the fragility that calls for accompaniment, discernment and integration. And the last chapter reflects on conjugal and family spirituality.

It is a document that ratifies for us, the members of Teams of Our Lady, our charism, our mysticism, our pedagogy and our missionary spirit which, in the latest Orientations, lead us to heed the Pope's calls. We believe in marriage according to God's will and, at the same time, we know the concrete circumstances that arise from the weakness and fragility of the human condition.

I believe that the heart of the Exhortation is the "humanisation" of divine love. It is a realistic look at the reality of marriages and families who, in the midst of difficulties, crises, misunderstandings, etc, want to make their lives a coherent response to God's invitation. It contemplates the creative plan and the response of creatures. It shows the greatness of the vocation to love in God's way, recognises the limitations and challenges that arise, and opens up ways of responding to the concerns that arise in the face of the various circumstances that accompany human weakness.

The Pope wants to show a realistic Church that is present to people in order to accompany them on their journey. If the Christian community is the sacrament of unity and a sign and instrument of the visibility of divine mercy, Amoris Laetitia traces a concrete and coherent path in this task of making present the Good News of God's love in human love. Hence, in the text, the Pope does not fail to consider the variety of aspects involved in the love of men and women who want to realise their life project in marriage and the family (sexuality, procreation, maternity, paternity, absences, education, old age, illness, crisis, technology, communication, etc).

Let us allow this year's celebration to lead us to a deepening of what the Pope has said and to commit us to live what we believe, what we long for and what we are building.


Message of Pope Francis


Interreligious meeting

Plain of Ur

Saturday , 6 march 2021

Dear brothers and sisters,

This blessed place brings us back to our origins, to the sources of God’s work, to the birth of our religions. Here, where Abraham our father lived, we seem to have returned home. It was here that Abraham heard God’s call; it was from here that he set out on a journey that would change history. We are the fruits of that call and that journey. God asked Abraham to raise his eyes to heaven and to count its stars (cf. Gen 15:5). In those stars, he saw the promise of his descendants; he saw us. Today we, Jews, Christians and Muslims, together with our brothers and sisters of other religions, honour our father Abraham by doing as he did: we look up to heaven and we journey on earth.

We look up to heaven. Thousands of years later, as we look up to the same sky, those same stars appear. They illumine the darkest nights because they shine together. Heaven thus imparts a message of unity: the Almighty above invites us never to separate ourselves from our neighbours. The otherness of God points us towards others, towards our brothers and sisters. Yet if we want to preserve fraternity, we must not lose sight of heaven. May we – the descendants of Abraham and the representatives of different religions – sense that, above all, we have this role: to help our brothers and sisters to raise their eyes and prayers to heaven. We all need this because we are not self-sufficient. Man is not omnipotent; we cannot make it on our own. If we exclude God, we end up worshiping the things of this earth. Worldly goods, which lead so many people to be unconcerned with God and others, are not the reason why we journey on earth. We raise our eyes to heaven in order to raise ourselves from the depths of our vanity; we serve God in order to be set free from enslavement to our egos, because God urges us to love. This is true religiosity: to worship God and to love our neighbour. In today’s world, which often forgets or presents distorted images of the Most High, believers are called to bear witness to his goodness, to show his paternity through our fraternity.

From this place, where faith was born, from the land of our father Abraham, let us affirm that God is merciful and that the greatest blasphemy is to profane his name by hating our brothers and sisters. Hostility, extremism and violence are not born of a religious heart: they are betrayals of religion. We believers cannot be silent when terrorism abuses religion; indeed, we are called unambiguously to dispel all misunderstandings. Let us not allow the light of heaven to be overshadowed by the clouds of hatred! Dark clouds of terrorism, war and violence have gathered over this country. All its ethnic and religious communities have suffered. In particular, I would like to mention the Yazidi community, which has mourned the deaths of many men and witnessed thousands of women, girls and children kidnapped, sold as slaves, subjected to physical violence and forced conversions. Today, let us pray for those who have endured these sufferings, for those who are still dispersed and abducted, that they may soon return home. And let us pray that freedom of conscience and freedom of religion will everywhere be recognized and respected; these are fundamental rights, because they make us free to contemplate the heaven for which we were created.

When terrorism invaded the north of this beloved country, it wantonly destroyed part of its magnificent religious heritage, including the churches, monasteries and places of worship of various communities. Yet, even at that dark time, some stars kept shining. I think of the young Muslim volunteers of Mosul, who helped to repair churches and monasteries, building fraternal friendships on the rubble of hatred, and those Christians and Muslims who today are restoring mosques and churches together. Professor Ali Thajeel spoke too of the return of pilgrims to this city. It is important to make pilgrimages to holy places, for it is the most beautiful sign on earth of our yearning for heaven. To love and protect holy places, therefore, is an existential necessity, in memory of our father Abraham, who in various places raised to heaven altars of the Lord (cf. Gen 12:7.8; 13:18; 22:9). May the great Patriarch help us to make our respective sacred places oases of peace and encounter for all! By his fidelity to God, Abraham became a blessing for all peoples (cf. Gen 12:3); may our presence here today, in his footsteps, be a sign of blessing and hope for Iraq, for the Middle East and for the whole world. Heaven has not grown weary of the earth: God loves every people, every one of his daughters and sons! Let us never tire of looking up to heaven, of looking up to those same stars that, in his day, our father Abraham contemplated.

We journey on earth. For Abraham, looking up to heaven, rather than being a distraction, was an incentive to journey on earth, to set out on a path that, through his descendants, would lead to every time and place. It all started from here, with the Lord who brought him forth from Ur (cf. Gen 15:7). His was a journey outwards, one that involved sacrifices. Abraham had to leave his land, home and family. Yet by giving up his own family, he became the father of a family of peoples. Something similar also happens to us: on our own journey, we are called to leave behind those ties and attachments that, by keeping us enclosed in our own groups, prevent us from welcoming God’s boundless love and from seeing others as our brothers and sisters. We need to move beyond ourselves, because we need one another. The pandemic has made us realize that “no one is saved alone” (Fratelli Tutti, 54). Still, the temptation to withdraw from others is never-ending, yet at the same time we know that “the notion of ‘every man for himself’ will rapidly degenerate into a free-for-all that would prove worse than any pandemic” (ibid., 36). Amid the tempests we are currently experiencing, such isolation will not save us. Nor will an arms race or the erection of walls that will only make us all the more distant and aggressive. Nor the idolatry of money, for it closes us in on ourselves and creates chasms of inequality that engulf humanity. Nor can we be saved by consumerism, which numbs the mind and deadens the heart.

The way that heaven points out for our journey is another: the way of peace. It demands, especially amid the tempest, that we row together on the same side. It is shameful that, while all of us have suffered from the crisis of the pandemic, especially here, where conflicts have caused so much suffering, anyone should be concerned simply for his own affairs. There will be no peace without sharing and acceptance, without a justice that ensures equity and advancement for all, beginning with those most vulnerable. There will be no peace unless peoples extend a hand to other peoples. There will be no peace as long as we see others as them and not us. There will be no peace as long as our alliances are against others, for alliances of some against others only increase divisions. Peace does not demand winners or losers, but rather brothers and sisters who, for all the misunderstandings and hurts of the past, are journeying from conflict to unity. Let us ask for this in praying for the whole Middle East. Here I think especially of neighbouring war-torn Syria. (…)

The journey of Abraham was a blessing of peace. Yet it was not easy: he had to face struggles and unforeseen events. We too have a rough journey ahead, but like the great Patriarch, we need to take concrete steps, to set out and seek the face of others, to share memories, gazes and silences, stories and experiences. I was struck by the testimony of Dawood and Hasan, a Christian and a Muslim who, undaunted by the differences between them, studied and worked together. Together they built the future and realized that they are brothers. In order to move forward, we too need to achieve something good and concrete together. This is the way, especially for young people, who must not see their dreams cut short by the conflicts of the past! It is urgent to teach them fraternity, to teach them to look at the stars. This is a real emergency; it will be the most effective vaccine for a future of peace. For you, dear young people, are our present and our future! (…)

It was precisely through hospitality, a distinctive feature of these lands, that Abraham was visited by God and given the gift of a son, when it seemed that all hope was past (cf. Gen 18:1-10). Brothers and sisters of different religions, here we find ourselves at home, and from here, together, we wish to commit ourselves to fulfilling God’s dream that the human family may become hospitable and welcoming to all his children; that looking up to the same heaven, it will journey in peace on the same earth.


Below we present several initiatives and testimonies coordinated and supervised from the Super Regions and corresponding regions that want to share their experiences with the members of the movement. Any additional information about these initiatives and testimonies can be requested from the SR and RR leaders who are working on them, as they are local and concrete activities and projects that are not under the coordination of the ERI.

Juan Guillermo & Mabel Ramírez Acosta

SR Colombie


"Renewed couples, witnesses on the road to holiness”

Remembering the past allows us to understand the present and build the future and what better way to do this than by celebrating those important moments in life.

Since 2019, as Province Couple and then as SR Couple for SR Colombia, we dreamed of celebrating the 60th anniversary of TOL in our country with a national meeting where we had the opportunity to remember our history and dream of the opportunities that were offered to us as a nascent Super Region.

Once the work team was formed, Villa de Leyva was chosen as the venue for the 2nd National Meeting. Due to its proximity, this location facilitated the pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Marian Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá, Patroness of Colombia. Here, we could consecrate ourselves to Mary. In 2020, the COVID 19 pandemic cut short the entire project, forcing its cancellation.

After a few weeks, and after overcoming the emotional impact caused by the health emergency, each of the regions gradually resumed their meetings, encounters, formation days and "spiritual retreats" virtually. There was very good participation of the team members, encouraging animation and mutual help. In this scenario of virtual team life, it was fortunate that our daughter, who because of her age and professional experience with networks, was able to revive the hope of our celebration by suggesting the possibility of a virtual pilgrimage. This gave a twist to our event, because what was going to be held in person now became a virtual event. The networks would become roads and YouTube would be the meeting room, church and place of collective embrace. We no longer needed buses and planes for transporting people, but instead transport for carrying medals, a picture of the Virgin, commemorative agenda and the guide for spiritual preparation.

The pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá inspired a deeply spiritual celebration aimed at giving thanks to God for the blessing of TOL in Colombia and an occasion to consecrate ourselves as a Super Region to the Virgin Mary, Patroness and Lady of the Teams.

The work team quickly took up the task. And after overcoming some setbacks, the work material was in the homes and we were ready to start the pilgrimage. For nine days, we began a journey of renewal of our marital relationship inspired by the miracle of Chiquinquira and the virtues of Mary. The event was held from February 23rd at 7:30 every night on a YouTube channel. Each region took turns at telling their story. Their regional priest, inspired by a biblical passage proposed in the guide, prepared us so that each household in the intimacy of their home would practice personal prayer, conjugal prayer, reading of the word and an intense conjugal dialogue that concluded with a task that both should develop the next day, as suggested in the preparation booklet.

The 9th day of preparation was run by the Dominican friars who opened the doors of the Shrine. We were able to go on pilgrimage virtually from 4th to 6th March, at the same time as the meeting of the College of the Super Region. The pilgrimage was opened by Edgardo and Clarita Bernal Fandiño, ERI responsable couple. This took place prior to the Eucharist arranged by the Central Colombia Region, cradle of the Colombian Teams history and origin of the sowing of TOL throughout almost all the geography of our country. During the three days of pilgrimage, each region had the opportunity to talk about their region today. Several invited couples shared their reflections, experiences and knowledge about important moments in the history of TOL in Colombia; about Father Caffarel and the need for perseverance in prayer to renew and keep alive our conjugal spirituality; and about the role of the Virgin Mary as Lady and Patroness of the Teams. They also told part of the story of Maria Ramos, a Spanish woman and human protagonist in the miracle of renewal. Devoted to prayer, trusting in the intercession of the Virgin Mary and with exemplary faith, she prayed to God for her broken marriage. For his part, the Rector of the National Shrine, inspired by his reading of the signs of the times, invited all the members of the movement to know and prepare themselves to face the risks and challenges of the Catholic family in today's world and to be homes in the manner of the family of Nazareth.

In thanksgiving and as a sign of confidence for these 60 years, we concluded our virtual pilgrimage with the Eucharist of thanksgiving. This was presided over by Monsignor Pedro Salamanca, Auxiliary Bishop of Bogotá and Spiritual Counsellor, followed by the act of consecration of our Super Region to the Virgin Mary. A closing concert was held with the Colombian Catholic singer-songwriter Héctor Tobo.

What about the road ahead? The pandemic has highlighted our fragile human condition, but solidarity, dedication and sacrifice, even of one's own life, are also re-emerging as a clear expression of fraternal charity, making us look to the future with hope. For those of us who carry the message of Jesus and with our conjugal love show that "love is alive", the darkness on the horizon is a real challenge because we are called to "be salt of the earth". Therefore we invite you to take on with intensity the renewal of our marriage and team life so that from our vocation and assuming our mission, we can be true witnesses of the path to holiness.

Ingrid et Padraig Lewis

SR Transatlantic - R Ireland

From Ireland with Love: An International Marriage Masterclass

Teams of Our Lady have existed in Ireland for more than half a century. However, despite its long existence and the enthusiasm of its members, Teams in Ireland may be reaching a ‘tipping point’ in relation to their continued existence on the island since many of its members are ageing. Faced with this concerning reality, in September 2019, the Regional Couple Jim and Elaine Keogh established an Expansion Committee, operating at a national level, which is responsible for promoting the movement.

One of the key expansion projects that we organised as members of this committee was the Marriage Masterclass with Teams of Our Lady, which is now in its third edition. The first two editions held in August and December 2020 were incredibly successful, reaching people from over 20, respectively 30 countries around the globe. Given that Our Lady is the patron of Teams, it was our desire for the Marriage Masterclass to be connected with a major feast dedicated to Her. Therefore, the first Masterclass took place during the Feast of the Assumption in August, while its second edition ended on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on the 8

of December. We entrusted the Masterclass to our heavenly Mother, praying that it would touch the hearts of many, bringing renewal of faith, hope and love into parishes, families and homes around the globe.

The objective of this Masterclass, which has become now a yearly event, goes much beyond the regional expansion in Ireland: it aims to promote the spirituality of Teams, sharing the beauty and richness that this movement brings to the lives of many people throughout the world. It aims to build bridges and to bring together people of faith across continents, while sharing a pool of experiences about how Teams enriched the lives of many and strengthen their vocations to married life and priesthood. A truly unique initiative sent from Ireland with love to the whole world, during such difficult times of global pandemic.

The first edition of this international Masterclass, held on Facebook in August 2020, consisted of 30+ video-testimonies from couples, priests and bishops from 8 countries, while its second edition, gathered over 40 videos from members of Teams in 10 countries. Among these testimonies, there was also a collective video made by the members of Youth Teams of Our Lady in South Africa.

The videos received from couples consisted of testimonies of married life and ‘words of wisdom’ about a variety of topics such as: the beauty of belonging to Teams, Father Caffarel’s spirituality, the six endeavours, enhancing faith with Teams, experiences of married life – in good times and in bad times, recipes of success for happy marriages, infertility and adoption, and raising children in faith. In addition, various priests gave testimony about the graces and strength received while sharing their vocational journey with married couples. The videos of three Bishops were also displayed during the Masterclass. Bishop Steve Lowe, Diocese of Hamilton, New Zealand, discussed how Teams of Our Lady has transformed the local Church. Using a mnemonic, Bishop Denis Nulty, Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, Ireland, explained that for him, the initials TEAMS mean: Teams + Endeavours + Attributes of the spouses + Monthly Meeting + Sacraments. Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Diocese of Westminster, UK, shared with great affection about his parents who were members of Teams for over 50 years of their married life.

With their amazing diversity, these videos represented a snapshot of what Teams of Our Lady has to offer, especially considering that this movement is present in over 90 countries throughout the world. Furthermore, these video-testimonies highlighted what an enormous gift it represents not only for families, but also for young people trying to live their faith, for priests, bishops and for the whole Catholic Church.

Both Masterclasses held in 2020 were extremely well received by a large audience spanning six continents. One of the many messages received from our participants said: “Thank you for your 'Yes' to the Holy Spirit. Great initiative.” Indeed, this is how the event felt to us: as a fantastic journey with God, inspired by the Holy Spirit whose presence and guidance was incredibly powerful throughout the organisation process and during the event.

Building on the success of its previous two editions, Teams of Our Lady Ireland recently announced the call for videos for the third Marriage Masterclass to be held from the 1

to the 8

of December 2021. As usual, the event will take place on the private Facebook group called: Marriage Masterclass with Teams of Our Lady, which is currently hosting the Teams EXPERIENCE project.

Overall, since we started this amazing journey of the ‘Marriage Masterclasses’, we were extremely touched by the fantastic support of people in Ireland and all over the world, Team members that we knew well and others we didn’t know at all. This Masterclass is for us a great opportunity to get to know people in Teams throughout the world. We feel privileged to get in touch with so many couples, to get a glimpse of the wider movement and, most importantly, to be in the service of God and of Teams of Our Lady.

God bless you all!

Klaus & Savina Von Massenbach

RR Germanophone

Explaining the blessings of sacramental marriage in a contemporary way is the goal of the new Marriage YouCat.

The Marriage YouCat is a project for the World Church, which is significantly supported by the Austrian Bishops' Conference. Savina and I were invited to work on this project because of our involvement in Austrian assembly of Spiritual Communities for "Marriage and Family".

Based on the worldwide success of the YouCat, a catechism that explains the teachings of the Catholic Church in straightforward language so that young people can understand them, the desire arose to write a special catechism for marriage.

The aim of this special catechism is to explain Christian sacramental marriage in an accessible language and form and thus also to promote it. This YouCat wants to consciously build bridges and reach people who, due to a lack of positive role models or little positive experience with the Church and the clergy, as well as the often formulaic language, are little familiar with the treasures and contents of the Church. The YouCat wants to be an invitation to engage with the teachings of the church and to give the possibility to lead a fulfilled life.

In a first step, questions were collected from all over the world, which were then bundled into 300 questions in the following 5 categories.

  1. discover the richness of love

  2. make yourself beautiful for the wedding now

  3. together - and no longer lonely

  4. the big day before the wedding altar

  5. love lives, grow in love

The individual countries were assigned questions, so that each question should be answered by 2-3 teams. Savina and I have worked especially on the questions that are very close to the END mission.

The editorial team now has the great task of assigning questions and answers, to bring them together and to transfer them into a certain methodology. For this we wish the editorial team the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

A global YouCat for marriage is probably as necessary as it is a great challenge.

On the one hand, the central teachings of the Church need to be explained in a way that is accessible to young people; on the other hand, there is the challenge that the words marriage and family have a broader meaning than the Christian context, and that marriage and family are always lived and understood in a particular social and cultural context.

If we want to appeal not only to young people who come from a classical Catholic context, the proper inculturation of YOUCAT will probably be a big challenge in itself.

We were able to talk about this point with the editor.

We quickly agreed that the Youcat has its limits. As a catechism, it can only provide short and very general answers. However, as a successful brand, YouCat can create a new positive attention to the purposes of sacramental marriages. Thus, it is impossible to answer a question like "How is it possible to remain faithful to a person and love him throughout his life?" in a few sentences (1500 characters) in a non-trivial way.

We have spoken with the editor about the fact that there is probably a need for additional formats here, which offer concrete help for a successful marriage, but also concrete help with problems and also offer support and comfort.

Here is a chance for us as a worldwide community to use this YouCat as a chance for our concerns. As a worldwide community we could potentially make an important contribution at this point.

On the one hand we could deliberately use the attention around the new marriage YouCat, in order to make our life aids and pedagogy known and to support married couples in such a way quite practically. On the other hand, we can underpin the abstract messages of the Marriage YouCat in a very practical way, since we have a methodology that has proven itself globally in the most diverse cultures and contexts.

For our region, with our very limited resources, we are considering addressing the subject in conjunction with YouCat, but also Alpha and other marriage initiatives. So we could imagine a YouCat marriage course or YouCat marriage manual to reach as many couples as possible.

This project has been very beneficial to us in several ways:

- On the one hand, it is nevertheless a wonderful challenge to once again deal with this important topic in a very fundamental way, and to consider how to convey the core messages to young people in a simple and participatory way.

- The collaboration with the other communities, but very distinguished priests and other individuals in this field is a very great blessing and treasure.

- And finally, it was a wonderful opportunity to make END better known in the Catholic County in Austria.

Juan Luis Ferrari & Mª José Cortés Antonio Fernández & Paqui Moya

SR Spain

Forever TOL)

The life of a team resembles, in a certain way, the vital trajectory of a living being: a team is born, grows, matures, bears fruit and, finally, disappears. Throughout its existence, it constitutes a basic ecclesial tool for couples and priests to experience conjugal spirituality, mutual help and, in short, to live a path of holiness throughout their married or priestly life shared with other couples and priests: the life of teams.

The disappearance of a team, for whatever reason, does not eliminate, in some of its members, the feeling of belonging to TOL that has been forged and experienced throughout a married, priestly and family life, and in the heart of team life.

The document Vocation and Mission (ERI, Fatima, 2018) states that our Movement must adapt to the modern world without neglecting our elders, taking into account the loneliness they may suffer with the disappearance of their team and trying to manage the desire to continue belonging to TOL.

For some years and in different parts of the Super-Region of Spain, various initiatives have been appearing (under the title of Veterans' Teams or also known as Always TOL) which crystallise the ideas we have set out above and which aim to provide a solution to the lack of resources for veteran team members of the Movement. As far as we know, this is a unique experience in our Super-Region and should not be confused with another structure of the Movement. Rather, it is a service of accompaniment for these groups of veteran team members. To help us understand this better, by way of example, we will describe the experience we have been developing in Seville because it is the one we know best.

Since November 2012, thanks to the idea of the Seco-Gordillo couple, together with their Spiritual Counsellor, Dom Pedro Ybarra, from whom this initiative started, the Teams of Our Lady of Seville have been accompanying a group of veteran team members made up of more than 50 people. The aim of this activity is to provide help to (and among) the members of this group in order to avoid the disengagement of those who have lost their teams from the Movement, thus responding to the needs of many couples.

With this in mind, we thought that the Movement could offer couples, or widows and widowers, who find themselves in this situation, the possibility of having contact with other team members who are experiencing the same circumstances. By holding meetings that are largely similar to team meetings, enables them to recover or maintain their links with TOL and, above all, makes it possible for them to practice mutual help among themselves.

We meet three or four times a year. The meetings last between two and three hours and are modelled on the team meeting, adapted, of course, to the needs of the group. It consists of five parts. We begin with a WELCOME for all, where we take the opportunity to greet each other and take an interest in each other through a pleasant and relaxed chat.

We spend a long time praying together, in a carefully prepared PRAYER. We introduce this with the projection of a video, a song or some words to create the right atmosphere. The main focus of the prayer is the proclamation of the Gospel, the shared reflections, intercession and communal thanksgiving.

At the end of this important part of the meeting, we move on to the presentation of the STUDY THEME we have chosen for the year. Throughout these years, many and varied topics have been studied, always trying to approach them from the point of view of the veterans of Teams. Many priests and couples from the group itself have generously collaborated in the preparation and presentation of the theme. We are deeply grateful to all of them.

This was followed by a SHARED DIALOGUE in which those attending the meeting expressed their opinions and points of view, thus enriching and completing everything that had been said previously. Finally, we all prayed the MAGNIFICAT prayer together and ended by sharing a FRATERNAL and relaxed AGAPE. We said goodbye with the desire and the intention of seeing each other at the next meeting.

From an experiential point of view, this activity began because some couples with a lot of experience in Teams, found themselves feeling a certain emptiness after a long life in community with other couples and sharing their faith and life with them. Some found themselves without a link to our Movement and their disconnection was such that they did not even receive the Newsletter or any other information related to it. These steps were resolved early on.

The first convocation of these veteran team members in November 2012 was a conscientious effort to find those who were lost and without any connection to the Movement. It was a joy to reconnect with couples and widows and widowers who had not been in contact for some years, but who had shared responsibilities and services. That was an unforgettable experience, which encouraged us to continue to be enthusiastic about this new experience of living our Movement in a different way. It kept us united among ourselves and with the Movement. It has also helped us to continue to be more united, even forming a WhatsApp group in which we exchange news of the Movement, together with contributions of prayers and comments of general interest.

The first meeting was held in a small chapel of Perpetual Adoration, with the pleasant surprise that so many team members attended. Some were in wheelchairs, so we had to move to an adjoining room. This gave rise to the desire to continue this magnificent experience.

We have always admired the testimony of widows and widowers who have discovered that married love is stronger than death.

Lately, it has become necessary to take up a collection which is sent to the National Secretariat as an annual contribution for this group of veterans.

This year, because of the pandemic, we have had on-line meetings. The last one of the year, God willing, will be celebrated in person with a Eucharist.

We encourage all Sectors and Regions to bring this experience to their veteran team members. We know that this initiative has been taken up by the Super-Regional Team of Spain, which is promoting and encouraging it, together with the Super-Regional College.

We send you a fraternal embrace.


18 - 24 JULY 2021

Our annual meeting of the International College will soon begin. To begin synchronising our hearts with this vital annual meeting, we present the theme and logo that will accompany us (which you can see here on the side).

The theme of our meeting will be

"Christian marriage, leaven in the world"

The logo that has been designed has tried to create a synthesis of the important elements of this theme.

The wedding rings represent the couple united in marriage, and between them, as heart and guardian, the source of their love and sacrament: the Cross of Jesus, which emanates light from the depths of the blue sky, which is also Mary's colour.
From that heart and those rings,
the testimony as Christian couples expands in concentric circles, like the yeast that expands the bread dough, and embraces the world.
Our logo reminds us of our belonging to a community of couples and to the Church with which we walk.

In a little over a month's time we will send you a document for spiritual preparation, as in last year's meeting, but as of now let us join in prayer for the success and fruits of this meeting.



Paola et Giovanni Cecchini Manara

Couple Responsible for Secretariat

“Work in progress”

This period, which affects the lives of us all, has also made more difficult our service as Responsibles of the International Secretariat. For those who don't know us, we are Paola and Giovanni Cecchini Manara, we are from Italy and we are part of the International Responsible Team of our movement as the couple in charge of the secretariat.

The pandemic has not stopped our work in the service of the movement, even though not being able to meet in person has made everything more complicated. We are involved in many situations in our work.

An important task was to organize the meetings of the International Leading Team. Since we have not been able to meet in person for more than a year and a half, we have worked by breaking up the various ERI meetings into many virtual ones, trying to combine family and work needs, different schedules, different rhythms. Fortunately, technology has helped us to organize our meetings from early in the morning in South America, late in the afternoon in Europe, and in the evening in Australia, with each meeting lasting two hours. Sharing documents and ideas in the days leading up to the meetings made it possible to progress together in spite of all odds. Of course, we look forward to seeing each other in person, as the online meeting is not the same. ERI is not an impersonal board of directors, and the strong personal relationship is crucial in sharing decisions, feelings, prayer and orientations for the movement.

Another project that we have pursued with the same dedication as at the beginning is the publication of the newsletter #farbutnear, together with Mercedes and Alberto Perez, the couple responsible for communication, conceived and created to keep in close contact with all the couples of the international college and to exchange news and testimonies.

During this time, we are working on the preparation of the Virtual Meeting of the International College, which will take place from 18 to 24 July, setting up everything necessary for the sharing of the work material, the celebrations, preparing, as we did last year, an online platform to support the activities of the couples.

An important project we are carrying out is the translations project. After sharing the Protocol of Translations with the College couples during the meeting in Valencia, we are working on the operational part of the protocol. To this end, we met virtually with most of the Responsible Couples of the Super Regions, in language groups, to seek people within the movement who would be willing to help with the translation of all those documents produced for international meetings. For us personally, it was very enriching to talk to all the couples and each one was very keen to collaborate. This has resulted in a rather rich list of team members who are available to translate, and we trust that this aspect, which is so important for our international meetings, will be managed in a responsible, shared and more efficient way in the future.

Another interesting project we are working on, on behalf of the whole of ERI, is the undertaking of a renovation of the headquarters in Paris of the International Secretariat of our movement. As you know, the headquarters of the International Movement of the END is located in rue de la Glacière in Paris, and the physical offices of the International Secretariat are there, occupying the seventh floor of a building dating from the 1960s. This place was personally sought after by Father Caffarel, together with the couples with whom he shared the responsibility, and is naturally an important part of our Movement's patrimony. Just as we are called to preserve and take care of the couples of the Teams of Our Lady, we also consider it important to take care of the material goods that belong to all of us.

The building is quite old and even the seventh floor shows the signs of time. In addition, water leaks from the floor above have visibly ruined some interior parts.

Not only is this the place where a person, a secretary, physically works for the movement, supporting all the technical work necessary for its smooth operations, but it is also the place where the ERI gathers for its meetings and where the Association of Friends of Father Caffarel is based. We, as Secretaries, often stay there, attending personal meetings with a variety of people, dealing with banks, bookkeeping and performing all the other duties necessary to carry out our service. Other ERI members, in particular the international responsible couple Clarita and Edgardo and the international spiritual counsellor Father Ricardo, all find there a welcoming and intimate home to better carry out their service when they are in Paris.

We figured we would take the opportunity of other extraordinary renovations that will be done to the entire building, and the fact that due to the pandemic, it is impossible for the ERI to travel to Paris and occupy these spaces for some time, to proceed with the renovation project. The first step was the replacement of the windows, which were still the original ones from the 1960s, improving heat retention and acoustics. In addition, the technical systems, in particular the electrical system, need to be brought up to modern safety standards. Interior renovation is also necessary, because the materials used to cover the floors and walls have obvious signs of time and use, giving the place a rather undignified appearance.

In addition to this, we have also thought about remodeling the spaces so that they become more suitable for the work and meetings that take place there, for example with a meeting room large enough to accommodate all the ERI couples and with a central, unified space for secretarial work that allows for greater collaboration.

At the moment we are still in the process of requesting quotes for the work, and we really hope that in the next few weeks we will be able to contract a company to do the work and get started. There will be a number of delicate aspects that we will have to take care of, including archiving all the documents and clearing out the premises. On the seventh floor of the Glacière there are many interesting documents that cannot be lost, that tell the story of our Movement; this renovation will also be an opportunity to catalogue them.

We are confident that we will be able to hold our next ERI meeting here at La Glacière in the autumn, finally in person, thus inaugurating the renovated premises.