On this page you will see what Teams is about and how it functions as well as our Organizational Structure
Equipes Notre Dame was founded in France in the 1950s to strengthen the sacrament of marriage for its members, using the methods handed down by our founder, Fr Henri Caffarel. It has been operating in Ireland for over 50 years. Our Movement is very much in line with the methods and approach recommended by Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia (AL) where he states that ’we cannot encourage a path of fidelity and mutual self- giving (in marriage and the family) without encouraging the growth, strengthening and deepening of conjugal and family love’ (89).
Members of Equipes Notre-Dame unite and place themselves under the patronage of Mary, the Mother of God, in bearing witness to the richness of the sacrament of marriage and their Christian married spirituality. Membership essentially involves committing to ‘endeavours’ in our relationships with each other as husband and wife, with our families and with God. In striving to meet these commitments we receive and give support to the other couples and chaplain in our Team, and the wider Equipes Notre- Dame movement in our sector, in Ireland and worldwide.
‘Endeavours’: In our daily lives we endeavour to take on ‘concrete points of effort’ and to progressively incorporate them into our lives. We have come to call these ‘endeavours’. They are at the core of our movement and are as follows:
Couple relationship: We (each couple) choose a period at least once a month to share our thoughts and feelings on our relationship as husband and wife and on the ups and downs of our lives together. We call it a ‘sit down’. It is a quiet, much valued time to come together in a calm and relaxed atmosphere in the presence of God to talk and to listen to each other. It involves the type of ‘dialogue’ which Pope Francis recommends in AL (136 to 141) as ‘essential for experiencing, expressing and fostering love in marriage and family life’.
Relationship with God: Pope Francis states in AL that ‘ The Lord’s presence dwells in real and concrete families, with all their daily troubles and struggles, joys and hopes’ (315). In Teams, three of our ‘endeavours’ are devoted to enabling us to strengthen our relationship with God in our marriage and our family life and foster our awareness of his presence. These are:
Personal Prayer: Turning to God daily in personal prayer;
Conjugal Prayer: Praying together daily as a couple, and with other family members, as possible;
Word of God: Listening to God’s Word each day at a time that best fits into our daily routine and preferably in a quiet place. Vatican II states that ‘prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that God and the person may talk together; for ‘we speak to him when we pray; we hear him when we read the divine sayings’. (Dei Verbum 25).
Teams Retreat – If at all possible we endeavour to go on a one day retreat as a couple once a year with other Team couples in our Sector, which offers the rest, renewal and readiness to face again the challenges of life.
Rule of Life: This encourages us to choose some specific point of personal behaviour or challenge and to endeavour to change it.
 Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love, Apostolic Exhortation on Love in the Family. (Referred to as ‘AL’ for the sake of brevity in some places in the text)
The teams are grouped into Sectors. The Sectors are grouped into Regions and the Regions into Super Regions; Ireland, Great Britain, Trinidad & Tobago, South Africa and Malawi are grouped together as a Super Region (see Super Region structure below).
The whole of Ireland forms one Region and there are 31 teams in Ireland spread throughout the Sectors (see map below).
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit new teams continue to be formed in Ireland. Four new teams were recently formed, one in Dublin, one in Navan, one in Dunshaughlin .
Teams – How it functions
A team is comprised of four to six couples and a chaplain, usually a priest, united by our desire and commitment to supporting each other in our endeavours and our lives. We meet once a month at the home of one of the couples on an alternating basis. We, as a priority, strive to attend each meeting, which is key to preserving the cohesiveness and unity of the team. The essential elements of our Team meetings are the following:
§ PRAYER: A short quiet period is set aside for prayer, which includes a reading from Scripture by the team chaplain or one of the couples. This usually occurs at the beginning of the meeting or after the ‘sharing’ (see below);
§ SHARING: We have a simple meal, during which we share personal and family news, including the highs and lows and any particular or significant problem we have experienced over the past month. This is followed by sharing on our experience in practicing the ‘endeavours’. All sharing is at each individual’s discretion.
§ STUDY TOPIC: We generally choose a study topic for the year. This provides a framework for thought and reflection at each meeting and helps nourish and deepen our Christian faith. The study topic for most teams currently is the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis – Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love.
At the end of our meeting the programme and date for the next meeting is agreed and our team meeting concludes with us reciting together the Magnificat, the Prayer of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is special for Teams.
You will find more information on Equipes Notre–Dame on the Website. The following may be of special interest:
Witnessing Christ in Marriage – an article on Teams in the Reality magazine published by the Redemptorists.
History – see the following sections on this website:
Equipes Notre-Dame International (a mainly statistical overview of the movement worldwide)
Newsletters – recent editions describe current activities and developments.
International Gatherings, see especially the article on the Super Regional Gathering in Ireland, 15th to 17th August, 2014