Origins of Teams

Continued from the History of Teams – The origins

It began in St Augustine’s Church Paris, in 1939. Four young married couples aspired to live their new love in the light of their Christian faith. They asked Father Henri Caffarel to guide their search. “Let us join together on a voyage of discovery”, he replied. They adopted the name Equipes Notre Dame to place the Team under the patronage of Our Lady.

The very first meeting took place in Paris on 25 February 1939. It was to be followed by more meetings, just as exciting.  The Second World War and the German Occupation interrupted this time of beginnings but the couples stayed in touch and supported each other through some tough times.


Other teams were formed during the Second World War. The depth and breadth of their reflection increased.

At this stage the movement was quite loosely structured.


After the war, the groups of couples multiplied. The need for unity and structures, laid down in a “Rule”, began to be felt. It led to the drawing up of the “Charter of the Teams of Our Lady”.

Its wording is dated but it is still relevant. It clearly spells out the essential objectives of team members: the wish to live their Christian marriage and deepen their faith with the help of a team.

To this end, the Charter proposed a number of proven means:

  • Couples would sit down together monthly to reflect on their relationship
  • They would share some of their reflections with fellow team members at a monthly team meeting which included a meal, prayer and discussion.
  • They would build around these other practices: conjugal and family prayer;; a personal rule of life; and a spiritual retreat.


The Teams of Our Lady grew rapidly in France, Belgium and Switzerland. Then they crossed the language barriers and the oceans to where today there are Teams present in over 92 countries:

Expansion dates:

  • 1947 Belgium and Switzerland
  • 1950 Brazil and Luxembourg
  • 1953 Mauritius and Senegal
  • 1954 Spain
  • 1955 Portugal and Canada
  • 1957 Colombia
  • 1958 Germany and USA
  • 1959 Great Britain
  • 1959 Austria and Italy
  • 1961 Australia
  • 1962 Madagascar and Vietnam
  • 1963 Lebanon and Ireland
  • 1968 Japan
  • 1968 French-speaking Africa
  • 1969 India
  • 1975 Syria
  • 1978 Porto-Rico
  • 1987 Argentina
  • 1991 Ecuador
  • 1995 New Zealand
  • 1996 Paraguay
  • 2000 Philippines
  • 2002 Poland
  • 2017 Cuba
  • 2018 Seychelles

The expansion of the Teams of Our Lady beyond France faced the Movement with two options. It could become either a federation of national movements or a single international movement. After reflection, the second option was adopted.

Important Events and Dates:


The Second Vatican Council and the profound transformations of the world and of the Church were a challenge for the Teams of Our Lady. The opportunity for a review and a new start came with a Gathering in Rome in 1970. Two thousand couples from twenty three countries met for five days.


A new phase began for the Teams of Our Lady. Their founder Father Caffarel decided to retire and to make room for a younger team. It was their turn to discover the will of God for the Movement and its mission “in faithfulness to the original intuition and with an understanding of the needs of the times”.


The Council of the Laity recognised the Teams of Our Lady as an “International Catholic Association.


The first task of the new Leading Team was to provide an up-to-date interpretation of the Charter in “What is a Team of Our Lady?” This compact document now constitutes a reference point for internationally.

A new gathering in Rome confirmed the spiritual and apostolic direction of the Movement. In his address, Pope Paul VI: “Remain what you chose to be since the beginning-  authentic schools of spirituality for couple”. And he concluded: “May this pilgrimage… help you to implant in all countries the essential values of marriage and to give rise to families that live by them.”
It was following this gathering that the Teams of our Lady for Young People came into being.

From 1982 onwards

The Leading Team reflected at length on how to evolve the structures of the Movement in order to respond to its growing internationalisation. This led it to reaffirm Teams’ characteristic as a single international Movement. And so it created in 1985 an International Leading Team to work in close collaboration and in a spirit of collegiality with the Leading Couples of the various countries.(

1988 Lourdes (France) 7th International Gathering

1992: Decree of Recognition

The Movement formally approached Rome for recognition in 1984. Eight years later in 1992 Rome responded with a decree. This recognised the Teams of Our Lady as a “Private Association of the Faithful” and approved its Statutes, in accordance with the new Code of Canon Law.

This was in fact the third official approval of the Teams of Our Lady Cardinal Feltin, Archbishop of Paris wrote in 1960 and Cardinal Roy, President of the Council of the laity, recognised, the Teams of Our Lady as an “International Catholic Association”.

2015:  Pope France speaks to Teams Couples in an Audience in Rome

Pope Francis addressed the Movement’s leadership and in typical style challenged Teams to be more evangelical and to share its riches with others including divorced and remarried and de facto couples.

The Teams Movement holds an International Gathering every 6 years for members from all Regions.  See list below of date and location:

1954     Lourdes

1959     Rome

1965     Lourdes

1970     Rome

1976     Rome

1982     Rome

1988     Lourdes

1994     Fatima

2000     Santiago de Compostela

2006     Lourdes

2012     Brasilia

2018     Fatima