by Joe Bollig
FRANKFORT — Father Jim Shaughnessy has proven that you don’t have to be on the roster to stay on the team.
Make that teams, Teams of Our Lady.
In early July, Father Shaughnessy celebrated both his 50th anniversary of ordination and his retirement twice — once on July 2 with parishioners, and for a second time on July 9 with a marriage enrichment ministry that has become an important part of his life, the Teams of Our Lady.
Father Shaughnessy, formerly pastor of St. Michael Parish in Axtell and Holy Family Parish in Summerfield, will assist the area’s pastors as needed in retirement. Significantly, he’ll continue to be chaplain for two Teams of Our Lady groups, the first founded in the archdiocese.
Jim and Moogie Roeder, members of Annunciation Parish in Frankfort, were members of Teams of Our Lady for 10 years in California before moving to Frankfort in 2005.
“We asked Father Shaughnessy, our pastor [at the time], to be our chaplain,” said Moogie. “He’d never heard of Teams of Our Lady, but it sounded good. Not all teams are fortunate enough to have a chaplain because there aren’t enough priests to go around, although a religious Sister or deacon can be a Teams chaplain.”
Father Shaughnessy, she added, is very happy to continue as a Teams chaplain.
Teams of Our Lady is an international lay movement for the enrichment of marriages through Catholic spirituality. It started in France in 1938, when a couple asked a parish priest for recommendations on how they could live their Catholic faith as a married couple.
Today, Teams of Our Lady is in 90 countries and has 12,965 teams. In the United States, 4,490 couples in 40 states form 838 teams. The Teams organization has provinces and regions. Kansas is in the U.S. North Province, consisting of 15 states.
Moogie estimated there are 50 Teams couples in the archdiocese, although she wasn’t sure because some may have become inactive during the years of COVID. The majority of Teams are in the northern one-third of the archdiocese.
Teams consist of five to seven couples, with one couple acting as the lead, she said. Teams meet monthly at different places, couple members rotating as host. The usually three-hour gathering consists of a meal, light sharing, prayer, discussion of concerns or topics called “deep pooling,” sharing of couple activities called “endeavors,” a study topic, administrative matters and a closing with the Magnificat prayer. Together, the couples make an annual Teams retreat.
Additionally, each individual Teams member has a “Rule of Life,” and undertakes “obligations,” said Moogie.
A chaplain plays a very important role for the Teams, she added. A chaplain provides guidance and information, answers questions and offers advice. A chaplain participates in meetings and activities as able. Father Shaughnessy attends both the monthly meetings and the annual retreats.
“[Being chaplain of Teams] helps my spiritual life and understanding,” said Father Shaughnessy. “It keeps me from thinking about myself and instead thinking of others.”
What Father Shaughnessy, an Axtell native, likes about his two Teams is that they are made up of people from the area where he came from and ministered in for decades. They know each other.
“We deepen our relationships and understanding of prayer, and it’s beneficial to admit our difficulties and ask others to help us,” he said.
And as a retired priest, he can be “more available” and go to meetings because he’s no longer so busy with parish administration or going to meetings.
“Teams are good for the couples and good for the parishes to which they belong,” said Father Shaughnessy.