NORTH EAST TEAMS CONVENE
In mid November many members of Teams of Our Lady gathered in the beautiful garden of St Augustine’s Presbytery, Wodonga. The Wodonga members had prepared a paraliturgy to be followed by a dinner, but more than anything else this was a social occasion where members shared what their teams had been doing over the last year.
All four Wangaratta Parishes’ Teams were represented. Our Wangaratta Sector Couple Sector couple thanked the Wodonga teams for their organisation and Fran and John Whelan, our Regional Couple also travelled from Bendigo to wish us well for Christmas and the year ahead.
It is not generally known around Wangaratta and Wodonga that some of the earliest Teams of Our Lady outside Melbourne were formed here. In fact, one founding couple, Ruth and Kevin O’Hagan, belonged to Melbourne’s first Team. Today the movement is strongly rooted in the Sandhurst Diocese and has been blessed with enthusiastic chaplains and spiritual directors such as Mgr Frank Marriott.
Each Team has five to seven married couples who meet monthly, usually to share a meal and strengthen their Christian lives by listening to others’ family successes, struggles and challenges. Some teams also arrange purely social get-togethers, retreats and once a year at least two Teams come together in what is well named, Crossroads. So members of other teams are well-known.
Monthly meetings are held in a family’s home and one couple will have organised a paraliturgy which includes a discussion that arises from selected biblical readings and/or an article on a current issue such as , Muslim discrimination or refugee policy, or Creation and the Environment. Helping each other to discern a Christian approach is fundamental. Some Teams also set a theme to follow for the year, such as the Pope’s Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love.
Teams are not just a talkfest. We help each other in very practical ways such as at times of illnesses, deaths, and children’s problems. That can mean cooking, gardening, providing transport, cutting fallen timber, babysitting, etc. We recognise that it is in the giving that we receive and grow in faith.
People in Teams do our best to meet Pope Francis’ challenge: ‘A Christian is a man or woman of joy; a man and a woman with joy in their heart. There is no Christian without joy.’ We can also add, ‘There is no Team of Our Lady without joy.