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Relationships Enrichment: Sessions for engaged and recently married couples

On Monday 19 October  Eamon and Giselle profiled the marriage of Aquila and Priscilla, a fascinating couple from the first century AD, who did everything together, from changing home several times, to befriending St Paul and Apollos, to making tents, to having Mass in their home - if only we could do that now!
 
If you'd like to receive a link to the next meeting (Mon 9 November @8:15pm), contact Fr James by email at jpatrickhurley@gmail.com. You can also reach him by phone at 086-107 2930. (Should you have a couple you'd like to present on, do let us know!)
 
Our first Autumn meeting (via Zoom) on Monday 5 October went very well. Photos were displayed from Kerry and from Spain, and stories told from Wales and Dublin.
  
Scroll down to links to the podcasts on Family Time and Communication by the experienced Couples Counsellor, Nacho Tornel
 
A record audience "tuned in" for our virtual meeting on Monday 29 June which featured the screening of a wonderful talk on Marriage by Scott and Kimberly Hahn, entitled: Living Sacrament - Primary Channel of Grace. There was a very lively discussion afterwards.

On Monday 15 June we were joined from Scotland by Emmet Dooley and his wife Lucy who hails from there. Married for ten years, having changed homes multiple times and had four children along the way, they talked about challenges they faced and how God has helped them find solutions every time.
  
Short podcasts available here
 
Relationships Enrichment meets regularly on Mondays. We draw on the teaching of the Catholic Church, as well as on the help and advice of experienced married couples.

We have been inspired by Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of Love, in which the Holy Father highlights the importance of accompanying couples before and after Marriage.
 
See, for example, the following points from Amoris Laetitia:
  • The complexity of today’s society and the challenges faced by the family require a greater effort on the part of the whole Christian community in preparing those who are about to be married (AL 206).
  • I encourage Christian communities to recognize the great benefit that they themselves receive from supporting engaged couples as they grow in love (AL 207).
  • ... the initial years of marriage are a vital and sensitive period during which couples become more aware of the challenges and meaning of married life. Consequently, pastoral accompaniment needs to go beyond the actual celebration of the sacrament. In this regard, experienced couples have an important role to play. The parish is a place where such experienced couples can help younger couples (AL 223).
Listed below are brief accounts of some previous presentations.
 
In early June, Fr James gave two presentations: the first on the Holy Spirit, and the second on Parenting and the "God Question". Soft copies of his slides are available on request.

Brian and Catherine O'Flynn were our guest couple on Monday 25 May. From their wonderful store of memories they drew many a tale as they traced how they met as teenagers - a poetry book at the library - how they kept in touch despite attending university in different cities, how they faced many challenges to their faith, how they married young, how they did the Camino de Santiago with the children, and, of course, how they still renew their decision before God every day to be faithful to each other till death do them part.
On 
Monday 18 May we were joined by Andrew and Valeria Larkin. Married with two young children, they talked about the importance of seeking solutions from the first moment. The bigger the problem the greater the need to seek a solution together. Using examples from personal experience - including a dramatic airport "nightmare" - Valeria and Andrew showed how a readiness to listen and seek solutions makes even the worst of problems bearable and strengthens one's Marriage enormously. 
 
On Monday 10 March, it was one story after another from Karen Hickey as she shared her experience of how she and her husband Mark from quite different family backgrounds make decisions about rearing and educating their three young children. She also talked about the pain of miscarriage and the consolation of being able to bury one's child's remains. Husband Mark offered complementary insights when he spoke to our group on 11 May. He stressed the need to learn to strike the right balance between paradoxical differences, e.g. sensitivity/anxiety in women and insensitivity/anger in men. 
 
John and Jennifer Kehoe made a most welcome return visit on Monday 10 February. Following John's insightful introductory reflections on 25 years of Marriage, Jennifer talked us through the classic Five Languages of Love - very useful to know for a successful loving relationship!  
 
"One can have friendship without intimacy but not intimacy without friendship" was one of the observations made at our first gathering of the New Year, as we discussed Love and Friendship. Jesus as Extraordinary and Ordinary Friend was another theme covered in a most engaging session.
 
A most enjoyable pre-Christmas gathering took place on Sunday 15 December 2019 after 12 noon Mass, with couples bringing very tasty dishes for the celebration. 
 
Our November 2019 meeting proved to be a very pleasant one. It was nice to be able to welcome Eamon and Giselle back after their recent wedding, while others had news of first babies on the way!
 
A few ideas from the podcast Jay Shetty interviews his wife for the first time were discussed on Monday 30 September.  Themes included where to meet the person you love, different love languages and how to balance family commitments and personal priorities.
 
On Sunday 25 August after 12 noon Mass, we met to mark the first anniversary of Pope Francis' encounter with couples in St Mary's Pro-Cathedral during World Meeting of Families in 2018. It was a very happy occasion with a variety of dishes, plenty of chat and a fun quiz afterwards.
 
On Monday 12 August Fr James gave a presentation on a sermon of John Henry Newman on Infant Baptism. Newman will be canonized in Rome on 13 October. The session prompted discussion about the immortality of the soul, the necessity of Baptism, and the special role of parents in their children's spiritual as well as all-round education.
 
On Monday 15 July 2019, Michael and Harriet told us about 'The Ten Commandments of Listening' and 'How to be  a Good Quarreller'. It was part of a very helpful presentation on Communication and Conflict.

In June, Harold and Anne-Claire talked about how contemplating the different mysteries of the Rosary and praying it together regularly as a couple can strengthen married life. Eamon and Giselle talked about how, due to cultural differences, news of one's engagement can be received quite differently by each party's family. More generally, they observed that while cultural diversity is good, solid moral values (such as fidelity and fruitfulness) ought not to be compromised.
 
John and Bridie McCarthy gave us a very encouraging presentation on Fertility Awareness (NFP) on Wednesday 27 March. They enhanced their superb presentation with various tips about 'special dating nights' for spouses, and about family life together.
 
On Monday, 11 March Laura Giust gave a very nice presentation on the life of Chiara Corbella, a young mother of three who packed a lot of joy into a short life.
 
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