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A Movement of Married Spirituality in the Catholic Church
“Let us look and seek together.”
That was Father Henri Caffarel’s response when four young couples approached him, seeking guidance on living more fully their relationships in the light of their Catholic faith. Some months later, in February 1939, the French priest would gather with those couples and start what would become the international movement known as Teams of Our Lady, or TOOL.
TOOL is present in nearly 80 countries, and in several language groups including English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. It marks its 60th anniversary in Canada this year.
TOOL also has a presence here in Fort McMurray.
In 2015 the Fort McMurray team became the first English speaking team in western Canada. Made up of four married Catholic couples we gather monthly to pray, share, support, and help one another grow in knowledge and love of the Lord, so that we may bear witness to that love.
Between work, school, and extra-curricular family activities, we all lead busy lives. In all of this though, God still wants to be part of our lives. As a couple, we have found that our TOOL experience helps that happen. TOOL gives us a series of spiritual endeavours – like personal prayer, daily reading of Scripture, or a sit down with our spouse to have a heart to heart conversation – which help us welcome God into our lives every day. Gathering monthly as a Team, and following a guide book, we have the opportunity to reflect on spiritual readings and matters, pray for different intentions, and support each other in our challenges, joys, and journey to holiness. St. John’s Associate Pastor Father Reddy is also part of our Team as a Spiritual Director, providing important spiritual insight and guidance at our meeting, and generously giving of his time for spiritual counselling with couples throughout the month. Outside of our meeting, we stay in touch and help each other out; that could mean something spiritual like praying for each other, or something more practical like helping someone move or looking after a child while a parent goes to an appointment. In looking and seeking together, as Father Caffarel would say, the couples in our Team have also become like extended family!
TOOL lives up to its name giving us tools, or practices, to deepen our faith and develop the spiritual aspect of our marriage so that it is something more than just Mass on Sunday Mass. We have found it to be an opportunity to grow together as husband and wife and grow in a deeper understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage.
“The Teams of Our Lady have as their essential aim to help couples to strive after holiness – no more, no less,” Father Caffarel once wrote to TOOL couples. “There is a married spirituality that gives direction to the life of the couple. The Teams of Our Lady gives you the means to acquire it.”
That was Father Caffarel’s experience many decades ago. And that is ours today.
If you are interested in learning more about Teams of Our Lady, TOOL, please contact Aldora and Matthew at [email protected] or Diana and Reinaldo at [email protected]. Learn more about the movement by visiting: equipes-notre-dame.com/en.
Couples for Christ (CFC) is a Catholic movement intended for the renewal and strengthening of Christian family life. CFC couples have committed themselves to the Lord and to one another so that they may grow in maturity as men and women of God and fulfill their primary vocation of raising families grounded in Christian values, in the service and love of God.
WHERE AND HOW DID CFC BEGIN? CFC began in 1981 in Manila, Philippines, when Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (Joy in the Lord), a covenanted Christian charismatic community, realized that to effectively renew society, a conversion of both spouses, and consequently families, to Christ was necessary. The method used consisted of bringing together a small group of prospective couples in a private home. There they were brought to a living relationship with Jesus Christ and to renewal in the power of the Holy Spirit through a series of weekly informal discussions of the gospel in a social environment.
Beginning from the first 16 couples who joined the weekly gathering, CFC became a Christian family life renewal which was later made available to parishes and groups of married couples who wished to live out their Christian life in an active supportive relationship with one another. The growth of CFC stemmed from its heart for mission and evangelization and its commitment to sharing God’s love with others, beginning from the basic unit – the family. It did not take long for CFC to realize that while a couple renewal was essential, it would be incomplete without family renewal.