The 2012 College of Teams met in Brasilia from the 17th to 21st July. The College is like the Cabinet of Teams – and comprises the Leading Couple and Spiritual Counsellors of all the World Regions of Teams. Faye and Kevin Noonan, from Canberra, and myself made up the Oceania Delegation.
A series of Papers were presented, Cardinal Dom Pedro Scherer, Archbishop of San Paulo, gave an overview on the Brasil Church, workshops in the principal language groups were held and discussion on the strengths and weaknesses Teams were held.
Currently Teams is represented in over 50 countries with world-wide membership of 130,000 people; and is known is some areas by its French name Equipe de Notre Dame.
The second week saw Brasilia invaded by 7,800 members of Teams and 50 Nationalities were presented to the Assembly – a little like the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The Syrian Delegation received a bigger applause than even the Brasilians. We were deeply moved by the joint witness of the Lebanese and Syrian delegates who decided that they must be present to say thanks for the gift of Teams in their lives!
Fr Timothy Radcliffe O.P. was the keynote speaker – and offered reflections to kick start each day. DVD presentations gave us a glimpse of the spread of Teams and the initiatives being taken to highlight the gift of marriage. Feeding the 8,000 each dinner time was quite a feat – and then we broke into discussion groups, again based on language. Our group had people from England, Ireland, India, Trinidad and Tobago, Malawi, Brasil, Romania, United States and Australia. Experiences shared, challenges presented, difficulties experienced. The world, old and new, First and Third are all experiencing in one form or another the questions raised by the young, the gay, the married communities. What are healthy relationships? How should they be regulated? What roles are expected?
For me, the insight that stuck was the importance of the SIT DOWN – that time encouraged by Teams for husband and wife to set all things aside and simply share, talk, discuss. Maybe it can be done over the dishes, but it seemed to me that experience suggested, leave all that aside, frequently find a quiet spot, and face one another. Highlighted yet again in our TV oriented, travel opportunities and mobile world was the family meal, without distraction.
In the Diocese of Sandhurst, Teams has been very much part of Diocesan fabric since the 1970s. There are some 30 Teams in the Diocese (and room for more). Christine and John Haddrick from St Patrick’s in Wangaratta are our representatives on the Oceania Team. Fr Joe Taylor PP Shepparton, has been highly involved since the 1970’s. There are many other experienced leaders.
One great memory is illustrated by the accompanying photo. The nations were asked to send a photo of their cathedral. Our Leading Couple chose the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bendigo. Imagine my surprise and delight when on the day 8,000 people assembled before the great Brasilia Cathedral for the public act of Witness to Marriage and there in the field was the great picture of Sacred Heart Cathedral!
I am grateful for the opportunity to have attended this XI International Gathering. It represented a timely reminder to the world that marriage is a positive good and a source of spiritual strength for the human race.