By Emily Woodham
Rob and Sharla Walsh were married for 28 years when they joined Teams of Our Lady, an association for married couples. “Couples journey together on a prescribed plan to find, know and serve Christ,” Rob Walsh said. “The first and essential objective of Teams of Our Lady, from which everything else should flow, is to lead its members, couples united by the Sacrament of Marriage, to holiness.”
Teams of Our Lady is not a program. It is an “Association of the Faithful,” recognized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and Pope St. John Paul II in 1992 and confirmed in 2002.
Father Henri Caffarel founded Teams of Our Lady in the Archdiocese of Paris in 1939 with four couples in his parish. The ministry quickly grew and spread from Europe to other parts of the world, according to teamsofourlady.org. In 1947, he drafted and implemented the Charter.
Rob and Sharla Walsh married in 1969. They met when they were 16 and 18. They married and raised their six children in the Church. However, it wasn’t until their oldest daughter, Jill Marie, received First Communion that Sharla became Catholic. In 1983,
only five years later, their oldest daughter, Jill Marie, died from leukemia when she was 12.
Their faith helped them stay strong as a couple through the heartbreak of their daughter’s death and all the other difficulties of family life. Although they found strength in the Church, they wished they had discovered Teams of Our Lady sooner, Rob
said, because its teachings and couples’ support would have bolstered their faith even more.
“We were told early on that we got married to help each other get to Heaven,” Rob said. “We have come to know that to be true by many of the events that have happened in our lives. The Teams’ methods have strengthened our relationship with Christ and each other, especially through our increased prayer life.”
A crucial part of Teams of Our Lady is forming small groups. Couples support one another and pray for each other. “We met many wonderful couples that have become lifetime friends. Many couples have told us the same thing after joining the Teams. I think it is because the spirituality of the Movement is holiness in and through our Sacrament of Matrimony,” he said.
Rob and Sharla, who moved to Idaho from Oregon, began serving in leadership for Teams of Our Lady in 2003 in Portland. “Another thought that seems to be woven in, and through everything we do, is that God is the true Author of love.” They went from serving locally to being a “Provincial Couple,” overseeing groups in the western United States. From 2015 to 2020, they were first “Correspondent Couple” in the United States for the “Association of the Friends of Father Caffarel,” promoting Father Caffarel’s canonization.
Since 2020, the Walshes have retired from leadership roles. However, they have mentored and piloted a Teams of Our Lady group at Holy Apostles Parish in Meridian. They hope to promote Teams of Our Lady in other parishes in the Diocese of Boise.
“We believe that couples have lost sight of the fact that marriage is holy and Christ should be at the center of the married relationship,” Rob said. “Couples should realize that God wants to be in a covenant with them and that He will bestow graces on them which will sustain them, guide them and remain with them all the years of their married
lives. God wants our marriages to succeed. It is not just about the individual or the couple, but for the benefit of the community and world. The fabric of our society is strengthened by good, solid marriages and family values.”
“I can tell you that in nearly 55 years of marriage, a lot can go wrong, but even more can be better – a lot more. Our faith and our love grew together through struggles and joys. However, we did consult God, who is the Author of love.”
For more information about Teams of Our Lady, contact the leaders for Idaho, Victor and Nicole Sanchez, at 208-949-1740 or Rob and Sharla Walsh at email@example.com.
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