Communication in times of difficulty

Number 9

Dear friends, we are happy to greet you with this Newsletter that unites us and that we hope you will enjoy.

We wish you a good reading

International Leading Team


Clarita & Edgardo BERNAL

International Responsible Couple



"Only trust in God can transform doubts into certainty, evil into good, the night into a radiant dawn." Pope Francis.

Dear friends of the International College family of the Teams of Our Lady:

With this issue we complete the ninth edition of #farbutnear. In the midst of the turbulence of the pandemic and in the absence of face-to-face meetings, this newsletter came to replace the usual newsletters sent after each ERI meeting. These earlier communications allowed the International College to be participants in all the issues discussed at the meeting. #farbutnear was an instrument for the International Responsible Team and the International College to be closer to everyone in these times in which life has changed radically. It supported us with the strength of a community that prays together and is interested in the welfare of each of its members.

Today it is with great joy that we can tell you this edition returns to the character of the original newsletters. After the ERI was prevented from meeting in person for two years (the last meeting was held in Paris in October 2019), last month we were finally able to hold (from 9th to 16th October in Mexico City) our fifth meeting in person. In normal circumstances this would have been the tenth of this ERI.

As we have reiterated throughout these nine editions, we do not feel victims of the circumstances of this pandemic that has changed all our plans. We feel blessed to have been able to overcome them, and after the storm and turbulent waters we have been through lately, to begin to see that we are entering calmer waters.

We don't want to be unconscious triumphalists or deluded optimists. We want to have a balance between the awareness that there is still some way to go to get back to normality, and the desire to work hard to bring a dose of hope. With confidence, we will continue to abandon ourselves to the providence of the Lord. As Pope Francis said in the quote at the beginning of this editorial, this is the only way we can transform doubts into certainty, evil into good, and the dark night into a radiant dawn.

Without having previously reached an agreement, we have been able to verify that our dear International Spiritual Counsellor, Father Ricardo, has approached his contribution to this edition with the same orientation. Like the whole ERI, he is perhaps inspired by the new breath that the face-to-face meeting in the land of Our Lady of Guadalupe has given us.

In this issue, in addition to this editorial and the message of Father Ricardo, there is feedback that Mercedes and Alberto have prepared to share with the College, about what was broadly discussed at our ERI meeting. We will also have some testimonies collected in countries in each Zone about the beautiful time of community that we experienced around the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the death of our founder, Father Henri Caffarel, on 18 September. It allowed us to join our hearts in thanksgiving for the spiritual heritage that this great man left us.

In addition, and as usual, in the section on Church themes, we included a simple but profound and incarnate reflection on the personal freedom, to which Pope Francis calls us.

Informally, and before concluding the editorial introduction to this edition of #farbutnear, we want to tell you that the Mexico City meeting was truly a rebirth of service for this ERI. We do not say this because we have not worked hard during these two years without meeting, but because no virtual meeting, no matter how good the technology used, can match the richness of the embrace that welcomes; the smile that opens the heart; the non-verbal language; the tears that bare the soul in the sharing; the camaraderie around food; the intimate Eucharist; the shared prayer; the discernments in an atmosphere that is created by isolation from the noise of daily life; the collegiality that is born of oneness with the Spirit; and the moments of feasting and celebration.

For all this, we give thanks to God, to the Virgin of Guadalupe, whom we visited, having the good fortune that Father Ricardo was able to preside at the Eucharist. Of course, we also thank the Super Region of North Hispano-America, and its leaders Gustavo and Sofia. Their spirit of welcome and the accompaniment of a wonderful service team who did not leave us for a single moment, made our stay an unforgettable time. Our visit ended with a fraternal meeting with the Mexican team members with whom we were able to share the happiness of being members of this universal family.

On our return, in addition to the joy of all that we have experienced, and the satisfaction of having been able to carry out an ambitious and demanding programme, we now have a lot of work to do for the International College and the Regional Couples' Gathering. With God's help and if circumstances permit, we will hold these meetings in Assisi next March.

Let us ask the Lord, who has accompanied us in the boat during this storm, through the intercession of Our Mother Mary, and with the help of his Spirit, that we may overcome the obstacles that still stand in the way. We pray we may soon reach the calm waters we have longed for, and that we may all meet again to work in Assisi. In the setting where St. Francis lived, the motto of the next meeting of the Regional Couples will be "And he entrusted his goods to them...".

Let us pray in communion that it may be so,

Father Ricardo Londoño
International SC

A hopeful post-pandemic

"Do not be afraid, let us go out". We set out in 2018 on a course that, despite the drawbacks, has been the compass of these years. We now face the challenge of being evangelisers in times of pandemic and post-pandemic.

One risk we run in the present circumstances is to allow the immediate and urgent to lead us to neglect what is necessary and important. Responding promptly to the demands of the moment cannot cause us to neglect what is essential.

Let us allow the Lord to walk with us. Let us allow him to accompany our steps and let us open our mind, heart and spirit to his presence, his inspiration and his strength. If God never regrets his plans and gifts, neither can we turn away from the proposed course. We need to adapt to the circumstances and generate a strong resilience that transforms methodologies and styles but keeps us firmly on course.

It is true that there are limitations and uncertainties, questions and shortcomings, but there are also many responses with new learnings and new understandings of the values we live by.

It is good to see how we have reacted and how many initiatives have been reactivated. Imagination and the effort to respond to the unexpected led us to discover hidden treasures. From time to time, yes, some discomfort and regret. But we have also become aware of the possibilities and resources.

Faced with the present moment, we need creativity and proactive attitudes even if we do not have all the answers. It is advisable to remain vigilant so as not to fall into pessimism, fear or nostalgic longing for a past that will not return.

Our future is ahead of us and requires us to face it. Thank God, the technologies applied to communication have allowed us not to lose our links and sense of belonging. Official meetings of sectors, regions and super-regions have increased abundantly. And, surely, much of this will be preserved.

A permanent insistence of Pope Francis has been that we should not remain self-referential but that we should keep the attitude of "going out" alive and burning. And that is precisely the purpose we have set for these years: we are called to go out to meet the needs that appear on our horizons.

The Risen Jesus Christ is in our midst and is our strength in the face of fragility, and our light in the face of uncertainties; he is compassion, mercy and solidarity in the face of indifference and suffering; he is freedom and openness in the face of uncertain horizons; he is hope in the face of crises, pain and suffering.

The Lord tells us in the prophecy of Isaiah (43:18f): "Do not remember the former things, do not dwell on the things of old; I am about to make something new: it is already sprouting, do you not see?"

The question at this point would be: what is the new thing that the Lord is allowing me to glimpse?

When the Lord invites Philip to follow him (Jn 1:43ff), he shares his discovery with Nathanael, who, on learning that the family of Jesus came from Nazareth, will say: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" And, it turns out that from Nazareth came full life, the incarnate presence of God. From those unknown people, from those insignificant origins, we have received salvation. An unexpected novelty for a humanity without a clear horizon.

Could we, perhaps, find that Nazareth of today? Perhaps in a hidden area, in a somewhat unknown region, a surprise from the Lord God may be waiting for us.

I would therefore like to invite you to look at each one of the couples, the members of the Consecrated Life and the spiritual accompaniers that we have in our present history. Let us review their faces, their looks, their smiles, their words, their ideas, their crises, their tantrums... and let us rediscover the values and teachings that, through these people, the Lord communicates to us. Our memory and our imagination will lead us to visualise many people, different circumstances, forgotten places... Perhaps, in the silence and inner openness of today, we will be able to find new and good things.

And we can ask ourselves if we experience deep and spiritual communion with the members of the Movement and if the sufferings and needs of the team members appear in our prayer?


Message of Pope

Freedom is realised in love, General Audience, Pope Francis, 20 october, 2021

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

These days we are talking about the freedom of faith, listening to the Letter to the Galatians. But I was reminded of what Jesus said about the spontaneity and freedom of children, when this child had the freedom to approach and move around as if he were at home... And Jesus tells us: “You too, if you do not behave like children, will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. The courage to approach the Lord, to be open to the Lord, to not fear the Lord: I thank this child for the lesson he has given us all. And may the Lord help him in his limitation, in his growth, because he has given this testimony that came from his heart. Children do not have an automatic translator from the heart to life: the heart takes the lead.

With his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul gradually introduces us to the great novelty of faith. Slowly. It is truly a great novelty because it does not merely renew a few aspects of life, but rather it leads us into that “new life” that we received with Baptism. There the greatest gift, that of being children of God, was poured upon us. Reborn in Christ, we passed from a religiosity made up of precepts to a living faith, which has its centre in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters, that is, in love. We have passed from the slavery of fear and sin to the freedom of God’s children. Here, again, is the word freedom.

Today we will try to better understand what the heart of this freedom is for the Apostle. Paul states that it is anything but an “opportunity for the flesh” (Gal 5:13): freedom, therefore, is not a libertine way of living, according to the flesh or according to instincts, individual desires or one’s own selfish impulses; on the contrary, the freedom of Jesus leads us to be, the Apostle writes, “servants of one another” (ibid.). But is this slavery? Yes, freedom in Christ has an element of slavery, a dimension that leads us to service, to living for others. True freedom, in other words, is fully expressed in love. Yet again, we find ourselves faced with the paradox of the Gospel: we are free in serving, not in doing whatever we want. We are free in serving, and freedom comes from there; we find ourselves fully to the extent to which we give ourselves. We find ourselves fully to the extent to which we give ourselves, to which we have the courage to give ourselves; we possess life if we lose it (cf. Mk 8:35). This is pure Gospel.

But how can this paradox be explained? The Apostle’s answer is as simple as it is demanding: “through love” (Gal 5:13). There is no freedom without love. The selfish freedom of doing what I want is not freedom, because it turns in on itself, it is not fruitful. It is Christ’s love that has freed us and it is love that also frees us from the worst slavery, that of the self; therefore, freedom increases with love. But beware: not with self-indulgent love, with the love of soap operas, not with the passion that simply seeks what we want and like, but with the love we see in Christ, charity: this is the love that is truly free and freeing. It is the love that shines in gratuitous service, modelled on that of Jesus, who washes the feet of his disciples and says: “I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (Jn 13:15). Serving one another.

Therefore, for Paul freedom is not “doing what you want and what you like”. This type of freedom, without a goal and without points of reference, would be an empty freedom, a freedom of the circus: it is not good. And indeed, it leaves emptiness within: how often, after following instinct alone, do we realise that we are left with a great emptiness inside and that we have used badly the treasure of our freedom, the beauty of being able to choose true goodness for ourselves and for others. Only this freedom is complete, concrete, and inserts us into real everyday life. True freedom always frees us, whereas when we exercise that freedom of “what we like and do not like”, we remain empty, in the end.

In another letter, the First to the Corinthians, the Apostle responds to those who supported an incorrect idea of freedom. “All things are lawful”, they say. Yes, “but not all things are helpful”, Paul replies. “All things are lawful, but not all things build up”, the Apostle answers. He then adds: “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbour” (1 Cor 10:23-24). This is the rule for unmasking any type of selfish freedom. Paul puts the need for love even before those who are tempted to reduce freedom only to their own tastes. Freedom guided by love is the only one that sets others and ourselves free, that knows how to listen without imposing, that knows how to love without coercing, that builds and does not destroy, that does not exploit others for its own convenience and does good without seeking its own benefit. In short, if freedom is not at the service — this is the test — if freedom is not at the service of good, it runs the risk of being barren and not bearing fruit. On the other hand, freedom inspired by love leads towards the poor, recognising the face of Christ in their faces. Therefore, this service to one another allows Paul, writing to the Galatians, to emphasise something that is by no means secondary: thus, speaking of the freedom that the other Apostles gave him to evangelise, he underlines that they recommended only one thing: to remember the poor (cf. Gal 2:10). This is interesting. When, following that ideological battle between Paul and the Apostles, they came to an agreement, what did the Apostles say to him?: “Go ahead, go ahead and do not forget the poor”, that is, may your freedom as a preacher be a freedom at the service of others, not for yourself, to do as you please.

We know, however, that one of the most widespread modern conceptions of freedom is this: “my freedom ends where yours begins”. But here the relationship is missing! It is an individualistic vision. Instead, those who received the gift of freedom brought about by Jesus cannot think that freedom consists in keeping away from others, seeing them as a nuisance; they cannot regard human beings as cooped up in themselves, but always as part of a community. The social dimension is fundamental for Christians, and it enables them to look to the common good and not to private interest.

Especially in this moment in history, we need to rediscover the communitarian, not individualistic, dimension of freedom: the pandemic has taught us that we need each other, but it is not enough to know this; we need to choose it in a tangible way, every day, to decide on that path. Let us say and believe that others are not an obstacle to my freedom, but rather they are the possibility to fully realise it. Because our freedom is born from God’s love and grows in charity.

As you all know, the Novena to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of Father Henri Caffarel took place between 10 and 18 September 2021. Through the website and social networks, it was distributed in five languages and is still available today for all those who wish to participate: https://equipes-notre-dame.com/site-de-la-neuvaine/

We have received numerous testimonies about this novena from all corners of the world. We have selected a few, but we would like to thank you all for your collaboration and enthusiasm in opening your heart and sharing what this novena has meant in your life.


SR Africa Francophone

The heavy rain on the morning of 18th September 2021 did not dampen the determination of certain team members from Bangui and Begoua (Central African Republic). Indeed, this day marks the end of the novena organised on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the death of Father Henri Caffarel. The closing ceremony took place in the parish of Saint Charles Lwanga in Begoua and was crowned by a Mass of thanksgiving. The Sector of Begoua offered a cocktail at the end of the Eucharistic celebration, after the family photo. Magnificat!

Amanda et Constantin, Région Centrafrique

We bless the Lord for the closing Mass of the novena on the 25th anniversary of the death of Father Caffarel, celebrated on Sunday 19 September 2021 at the Cathedral Parish of Our Lady of the Assumption. Despite the holiday period, the team members from Libreville (Gabon) in particular, came to give glory to God for Father Henri Caffarel.

Justine et Yannick, Région Gabon

SR Italy

We lived this prayer experience proposed to us by the ERI as a gift and as a memory. It was a gift because prayer always leads us to offer God our experiences and our weaknesses, which are harmoniously transformed into opportunities. It was a memory because for nine evenings we remembered Father Caffarel, his spirituality, his courage, his enthusiasm as a man "seized by God".

We felt united with the whole TOL Movement and the whole Church. It is the power of prayer that overcomes borders, barriers, divisions and makes us a single voice directed towards the Most High.

Hearing Father Henri Caffarel's voice so decisive, so convincing, so enthusiastic, has encouraged us to live our Christianity not in a lukewarm manner, but as courageous men and women. It was a novena to say thank you and to ask God to increase our faith and our love.

Cinzia and Sergio, Varese, Italy

(...) So why the novena? I gave myself a few answers.

First of all, I must say that I came to understand the meaning of the novena, by practising it day after day, just before going to bed. It was a bit like St Teresa of Ávila suggested: "You learn to pray by praying". I believe it is an experience similar to childbirth: only those who live it directly, can understand it.

The most precious reason and the most precious gift was the discovery of finding ourselves together with so many others, even if we were far apart. All of us praying and listening to some of the deepest and most characteristic thoughts of Caffarel's human and Christian experience. And all, I hope, to understand more deeply what he meant when he insistently invited us to make frequent appointments with the ‘oraison’ - a word that we literally translate as prayer, but which for Caffarel was something much deeper. For him it meant entering into that intimate contact with God that goes beyond prayer, to the point of understanding that - as St Paul had also said - it is no longer we who live, but God who lives in us.

Giampaolo, Varese, Italy

We accepted the proposal of a novena with Father Caffarel as a privileged opportunity to pray together and in communion with our friends from all over the world. Each day, we entrusted to the Lord all the situations of suffering, of fatigue known to us, and gave thanks for our families, for our friends, for all the gifts we receive daily, and for the gift of Teams. This novena was also a good opportunity to honour the memory of Father Caffarel and to get to know him better. It was moving to listen to his voice and to perceive how full his heart was of faith and grace. On his journey, he never tired of reminding us that God is love, that Christ is alive. For this we are grateful to him and we pray to the Lord, so that our lives may also become a visible sign of His presence and a call to love without condition.

Maddalena and Gigi Varese, Italy


SR Brazil

To speak of the good things that the Teams of Our Lady Movement brings us seems unnecessary. However, we were positively surprised by the proposal of the "nine days of prayer and reflection" on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Father Henri Caffarel's death, highlighting the legacy that he left us all. We accepted the proposal and so, with discipline and fervour, we spent these days, so precious for our married sanctification. Each video, audio and testimony that was presented and so well produced, added so much to our spiritual journey.

Father Caffarel's initiative with these young couples was, without a doubt, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Certainly, despite the faith that moved him, we do not think that even he expected to reach such a grand dimension, spreading to so many countries. The first intention of leading the spouses on the path of holiness was well accepted as time shows.

And this invitation to holiness reached us eight years ago. Praise God! To hear such striking testimonies of couples from distant countries, in different languages was captivating. Although we do not speak the same language, we speak the language of the Movement, the language that Father Caffarel taught us. We spoke of mutual love and of love that is stronger than death; of the Endeavours; of the value of prayer, whether it be personal, conjugal or interceding for others. All this reinforces the universal fraternity of the Movement.

Finally, how can we fail to recognise the many blessings received in a few days of prayer and reflection? It was enough simply to open our eyes and hearts for the grace of God to enter, guided by such beautiful teachings that fill us with strength, faith and perseverance to reach our final objective which is to arrive together in Heaven. The feeling of belonging to the Teams of Our Lady is very gratifying; let us pray together and everywhere for the canonisation of the founder of our Movement, who is already a saint for us. What we wish is that the whole Church will realise his value and also recognise his holiness.

Glenda and Sormany, Goiás, Brazil

RR Canada

What a beautiful way to remember and commemorate Father Henri Caffarel’s 25th Anniversary of his death with the Novena! We are so grateful for this opportunity to hear from Father Caffarel himself, in his own words, in his own voice. The videos featured each day with his words of wisdom really touched our hearts. It was as though he was speaking to us right here, right now. His messages are very powerful and timeless. The testimonials from the couples in the videos were also very inspiring for us and helped to showcase the relevance of his message about the sacrament of matrimony, the mystique of Teams of Our Lady, and the importance of prayer. On Day 2, when Fr. Caffarel speaks to us about Living the Sacrament of Marriage, we were very struck by the message that if a person separates themselves from God, they abandon the best of their love.(…) The topic on Day 4 of “Couple on Mission” spoke to us as Fr. Caffarel reminded us of our second ministry as married couples; that of hospitality. In our marriage, we have been intentional about creating a welcoming home for anyone who may come to our door or into our lives. (…) We were very moved by his words and reflections about widowhood on Day 5, helping us as a married couple of 31 years, to remember that Love is stronger than death and that as we age together and one day take our leave, the couple’s conjugal love remains, as it is the “soul of the couple”. (…) We take solace in the words of Fr. Caffarel who said that “It will be Holy because at the bottom of our being, we will be closely united to Holy God, it will be fruitful and rivers of living water will flow from us because we will be connected to the very source of life.” We pray to Father Caffarel often and ask for his intercession to bless our union, to help us become a Holy Couple, to be a living testimony of God’s great Love. Amen. Debbie and James, Canada

SR Colombia

The novena to Father Caffarel has awakened in the teams of our new Region of Valle Norte (Colombia), an enormous desire to know him better: to go deeper into his life, his texts, his thoughts, his testimonies and all his work, and to understand much better the genesis of our movement. Father Caffarel is no ordinary priest. We see a man anointed by God and filled with the Holy Spirit. He has made us value our Spiritual Counsellors more and more each day, and all the spiritual support they give to our sacrament. This union of the two sacraments has led to more service in the church and in the community. (...) It has been wonderful to see him and listen to his voice. The depth of his messages has made us feel that he was undoubtedly a holy man. Now the commitment to the cause and holiness of Father Caffarel is much stronger in our teams, in our homes and in our environment. This goes far beyond reading Father Caffarel's prayer at the end of our meetings. Thank you for allowing us to live these unforgettable moments of intimacy with our saint for the glory of God.

Luis and Yamileth, Colombia

SR Hispano-america Nord

The Novena was richer than the expectations we had. It gave us the impression that in the twelve years we have been in TOL, we did not know Father Caffarel. Now we understand why, in the prayer for the Beatification of Father Caffarel, we say "... seized by a devouring fire, he was a dwelling place for You, Lord...". Not only listening to him, but seeing him through the videos, we could see this in him. In particular, the Novena left us with:

a. Motivation to experience God in the way of Father Caffarel, rather than playing with words only, because of poor time management. Listening to Father Caffarel, we relived the joy of the Presence of God. We felt the call to receive His Love more often and to remain in Him every day.

b. A greater motivation for our home to be a home of seekers of God, where the manifestation of God's love and tenderness is given, from the experience of His tenderness.

May God grant us the Grace to live the divine inspiration that Father Caffarel had for us, through our Catholic marriage.

Edith and Juan, Mexico

This month of September 2021, provided confirmation of God's providence, and internalised the love of our extended family, the TOL movement. It was our turn to do the precious END novena of Fr. Henri Caffarel in the intimacy of a hospital room, amidst uncertainties. While we were separated by the gravity of my situation in the middle of the novena, Fernando discovered an image of Christ crucified in a room that looked like a chapel. It was totally white, as if unfinished. However, it was very clear about the meaning of Baptism when with Him we are born again. He then gave thanks for His sacrifice and mercy. So, as the wind stirs the boat, we abandon ourselves, trusting God will be with us in our suffering.

When we resumed, we joined the whole Movement, aware that we were not alone. The reflections, the Word, the testimonies touched us personally in the situation we were experiencing at that moment. We also felt very close to the couples and Spiritual Counsellors who contributed their experiences. These were blessings of joy that the movement gives us, uniting us in time and space no matter the distance.

We thank God for everything and we are happy for the gift of love from TOL and Fr Caffarel ... "Our Father, through the intercession of Our Lady, we ask you to hasten the day when the Church will proclaim the holiness of his life".

Olga and Fernando, Puerto Rico

SR Transatlantic

The beautiful novena organised for the 25th anniversary of the birth to heaven of Fr Henri Caffarel was an unforgettable experience for us. One that enlightened and strengthened us. Firstly, the novena illuminated us, because it felt like an experience of discovery of Fr Caffarel, the beloved founder of our movement. It was the first time that we heard his voice and the passion he transmitted when speaking about Teams, marriage, the union of the two sacraments (marriage & priesthood) and, more generally, about love. We were struck to discover Fr Caffarel as a man consumed by love. A man in love with God. A priest whose love and faith were so great that he could not do otherwise than share those gifts, send them forth, so they could reach all corners of the world. A man who, as in the Gospel according to Luke (8:16), placed his lamp high on a stand “so that those who enter may see the light.” His charisma, his words and the passion in his voice still resound in our ears much after the end of the novena.

Secondly, the experience of doing the novena provided us with guidance and strength during particularly challenging times in our lives. Actually, this novena came at the right moment for us as we were struggling with health issues, the stress of buying a house, various professional challenges and an intense working rhythm that left us drained at the end of most days. In addition to our worries, three weeks before the deadline for the Marriage Masterclass we had received only one video. The many months of work, emails, calls, seemed to be almost fruitless. We were overwhelmed, confronting the fragility of life and feeling - same as the apostles - that Jesus was sleeping while our boat was swamped by the heavy waves of a stormy sea. In this life storm, the presence of Fr Caffarel during the novena appeared as a luminous light house, pointing us in the right direction, showing us the path. He was there to remind us that God is waiting for us in the “luminous depth of our hearts”. One phrase by Father Caffarel touched us deeply: “Live your prayer and pray your life.” With that beautiful invitation in mind, we started to pray more intensely, entrusting to God everything that made our boat rock in the midst of the storm. Also, we fervently asked for the intercession of Fr Caffarel for our personal and professional needs. In a special way, we entrusted to Fr Caffarel the situation and future of the Marriage Masterclass. Shortly after that, the videos and the offers to make videos started to arrive. Also, we felt comforted and strengthened in our own personal struggles. Things started to happen and we were able to see how Jesus was calming our turbulent sea. Everything started to make more sense, even those aspects of our lives which are still uncertain and worrying.

To conclude, this novena helped us to see how Fr Caffarel’s love extends beyond death and how his intercession promptly facilitates the gifts and graces that we need at a particular time. Thank you, Fr Caffarel – for the light you are to the world. For the guidance that you provided us, every step of our marriage, through the wonderful movement of Teams of Our Lady. For your reassuring presence when we are fragile and struggle along the way. For your intercession and graces when our ‘boat’ is navigating the storms of life. For all the couples and chaplains, throughout the world, with whom we share the joy and connection of being part of the same movement. With gratitude we thank you for your vision, presence and love.

(Ingrid and Padraig, Ireland)

RR Lebanon

We would like to thank all those who gave their time and their hearts to prepare the novena for the 25th anniversary of the death of Fr Caffarel, in which we participated with great joy.

The viewing of the videos was a time of qualitative preparation for prayer.

More precisely, listening to Fr Caffarel revives the great heritage he left us in his teachings which are still very relevant today. The determination of his voice cannot but resonate strongly in our hearts, reflecting the depth of his love for the Lord.

The testimonies of all the people filmed, offer a concrete experience of the Christian conjugal journey, and consequently, of evangelisation in sickness as well as in health, for couples living as well as in widowhood...

The daily repetition of the Magnificat followed by the prayer for the canonisation of our founder was a magical time of union in prayer with Teams around the whole world.

The final prayer based on the writings of Fr. Caffarel reminds us, among other things, of the richness of the sacrament of marriage: "The tenderness of your husband, the tenderness of your wife, is a sign of God's tenderness".

It allows us to conclude the prayer by inviting us to go deep within ourselves, into this heart to heart with Jesus.

Elyssar and Elijah, Lebanon

Do you want us to search together?

The Teams of Our Lady was born out of this question...

Nothing was dictated, but everything was lived... by couples with their spiritual advisor, a spiritual search that has been going on for years.

And today, through this novena which has united us for nine days, we have discovered our founder who, once again, has invited us to give time to God: to listen to him, to declare our love for him, to know and accept ourselves, to get to know him by immersing ourselves in his word.

As Fr. Caffarel, a prophet of love, says: "Love is my substance". Let us live this love in the family, in the team and in the world. For it is our path to holiness.

Claude and Robert, Qatar

Whats is ERI doing?

ERI meeting in Mexico, 10-16 October 2021

The International Responsible Team met in Tlalpan, Mexico City on 10-16 October 2021. It had been more than two years since we had been able to meet in person due to pandemic restrictions, and on this occasion we were all able to attend, except for the Eurasia liaison couple, Faye and Kevin, who are not yet authorised to leave Australia. However, using two projectors, a dedicated computer and an amplifier, Faye and Kevin were able to virtually participate in some parts of the meeting by listening and speaking, as far as the time zone difference allowed, of course. We began the meeting with a Eucharist of thanksgiving for the possibility of holding this important meeting, joyful, hopeful and with great gratitude also to the Mexican teams who welcomed us with great affection. The first two days were dedicated to an intense spiritual preparation motivated by Fr. Ricardo Londoño who helped us to attune our hearts and to enter into communion with one another. The sharing, long and deep, opened our life over the previous months to the others. Times of meditation, conjugal dialogue, prayer and sharing with the rest of the team helped us to prepare ourselves for the intense programme ahead of us.

The work of each day, which included the Eucharist .....

The work of each day, which included the Eucharist, prayer and meditation on texts by Father Caffarel, focused on various issues concerning the functioning of the teams in the coming years of responsibility of this ERI. We began with a review of the proposed actions, the activities that have been carried out and the challenges that still lie ahead. There was a review of the second virtual meeting of the College in July, based on the evaluations, for which we are very grateful. These help us to redirect proposals, to take up the aspects that have worked well and those that we should correct. Also, we considered the calendar for future meetings of the ERI, which we hope will continue to be face-to-face.

The rest of the work focused on a wide range of issues...

The rest of the work focused on a wide range of issues. We will point out some of the most significant ones. An in-depth analysis of the functioning of the teams in the four zones, was presented by their coordinators, with emphasis on how the pandemic has affected the life of the teams and how we can face the near future. Financial solidarity projects for the teams have also been reviewed, related to training, consolidation in places where they are starting up, expansion to new countries, etc. Other issues related to practical operations such as the translation protocol; statistics that allow us to better understand the current reality; budgets; the situation of the secretariat; and works at the secretariat building in Paris, were also discussed at this meeting. The communication project and the evolution of the Satellite Teams project were also presented, so that all the members of the ERI are aware of the various aspects that are being worked on.

Much of the time was devoted to the preparation of the next meeting in Assisi. On one hand, the International College that will take place from 10 to 13 March 2022, and on the other hand, the Regional Couples’ Gathering that will follow from 13 to 18 March 2022. This is an important challenge as we are still living with uncertainty about the evolution of the pandemic, but we are hopeful and working towards this face-to-face meeting.

The College will have the figure of the Virgin as the central theme....

The College will have the figure of the Virgin as the central theme, and this is also the theme of the next orientation, "Serve in imitation of Mary". It will be celebrated around the two hymns, the Benedictus and the Nunc dimittis (or prayer of Simeon). It will be a short College because we will then have the Regional Couples’ Gathering. It will replace the College normally held in July.

The Regional Couples’ Gathering focuses on the parable of the Talents, "He entrusted his goods to them". The participants giving presentations have already been confirmed. Among them we highlight Cardinal Tolentino, who we remember for his inspiring insights at the last meeting in Fatima; Marina Marcolini, a professor specialising in Laudato Sí; Gabriella Gambino, secretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life; Father Jacques Turck, secretary of the social commission of the French bishops; and, of course, Clarita and Edgardo, our international leaders; as well as the testimonies of team couples from different parts of the world. There will also be workshops and presentations by members of the ERI. There will be moments of exchange in mixed teams, prayer, night of adoration, Eucharist, testimonies, time for the sit-down, and the announcement of the next international meeting in 2024. We are still awaiting the reply from the Vatican about an audience with the Pope, which had already been confirmed for the postponed meeting last September. We are now in the process of arranging it again and we will communicate with you as soon as the audience has been granted. We have prepared this Regional Couples’ Gathering with great care and we hope that we will be able to enjoy the participation of the Regional Couples coming from all corners of the world. We ask for your prayers between now and then because there are still many obstacles to overcome.

Another important aspect has been to review the participation of Teams in the next Synod...

Another important aspect has been to review the participation of Teams in the next Synod with the appointment of coordinating couples who will collect the responses by SR and RR. The relationship with the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life was another topic of focus, as this relationship is fundamental in these times of change. This includes new decrees on the functioning of Associations of the Laity.

This communion and closeness with the Church is a constant that this team has wanted to emphasise and in line with this, we had the opportunity to meet Monsignor Héctor Pérez Villarreal, Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Mexico. We were able to present the Movement to him while reiterating our service to the Church. At the feet of the Virgin of Guadalupe in a Eucharist presided over by Ricardo Londoño, ERI's Spiritual Counsellor, we remembered all the teams around the world.

We are grateful for the affectionate welcome of the Mexican teams...

We are grateful for the affectionate welcome of the Mexican teams, represented by the couples who took care of us every day, and in the Encounter celebrated on Saturday 16th in the afternoon. At this meeting, we were able to introduce the ERI, answer any of their questions, and get to know the Mexico Region belonging to SR Hispanoamerica North. We celebrated the Eucharist together and had time to share supper, chat and meet the Team members.

We return to our homes with a grateful heart and with a new enthusiasm to continue in this service.