Nazareth Family Institute

Nazareth Family Institute provides courses for Pre-Marriage Preparation, Marriage Enrichment, and Parenting. Our most common course is the Pre-Marriage Preparation Course, designed for any couple planning marriage and a Catholic Church wedding (who are therefore required to attend an appropriate marriage preparation course.) Inter-Church couples are also accommodated and welcome to attend the course.

We also offer one on one marriage preparation courses, and we offer marriage renewal and healing sessions for married couples on a one to one basis. See  “NFI Services” page below for more details.

What God Means to Me

What God Means to Me – Aoife-Marie Buckley

Aoife-Marie, 24, is from Dublin, and is currently amidst a Masters degree in Art History in University College Dublin.

Looking back, I can see numerous traces of God’s hand in my life — sometimes in little nudges, other times with neon lights and great fanfare.  I am a stubborn person; sometimes He needs to reshuffle the schedule I’ve boldly made for myself without any consultations with Him. We all have different words for these times of reshuffling, sometimes positive but most of the time negative: transformations, changes, disruptions, upheavals, whatever words you want to use. Usually at that time we cannot see any silver linings, we cannot see the purpose God has for us, and others, in it.

It has been almost four years since I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), something that dramatically altered every facet of my life.  ‘Chronic pain’ and ‘chronic fatigue’ suddenly became part of my vocabulary; my life up until this point became a distant memory.  It was a trying time for myself, my family and my friends.  I had grown up the eldest of three children, in a Christian, Catholic, caring and motivating home and had always been creative, energetic and a planner.  I cannot recall a ‘crisis moment’ with my faith in God, I had by circumstance accompanied my parents regularly to mass and to different events within an Ecumenical Christian community, called the Community of Nazareth, they were members of.  Here I learnt from other parents and peers about the many aspects of faith, prayer, service, commitment to your chosen church, scripture reading and more. Here circumstance became conviction — my understanding of God became deeper, broader and the anchor to drop in those ‘reshuffles’.

I am grateful for the different groups I have encountered such as the Community of Nazareth, Youth2000, and University Christian Outreach (based in University College Dublin), because interactions with them has given me an overarching comprehension of how others live out their faith lives and helped me establish healthy Christian Catholic habits in my life.  I have discovered the life-line that is personal daily prayer, scripture full of hope and truth, the beauty of confession and repentance, and the treasure of the Psalms which are amazing aids in any trouble or worry.  These habits have been there to help smooth the little upsets, to keep me anchored and help in times of immense uncertainty and change.

Heralding in the new ‘Aoife’ — now featuring fatigue and new daily struggles — sometimes felt like my whole identity was being stripped away.  Who was I if I couldn’t study Architecture anymore?  Who was I if I couldn’t play the piano?  Be with friends?  God why are you doing this to me? I felt frustrated, alone, mournful for my past life, and lethargic because I couldn’t ‘do’ much.  I felt like it was all a waste — it is safe to say that I felt altogether lost.  But God!  He had many purposes in my weakness, to teach me about dependence on Him and His plan, not all the plans I make for myself.  I had to release the identity I had constructed in my head that was mostly placed in the things I could ‘do’.  Stubborn and headstrong, it took me a while to realise this — retrospect really is a gift! God was not, and is not, calling me to do anything, He is reminding me to go to Him. The simplified realisation from this particular ‘reshuffle’: God does not call you to be or do something in particular, He calls you to Himself.  He calls you to follow Him.

During this time I found great solace in a familiar story and, through my reshuffled context, gained a deeper personal understanding of it — when Jesus calls the first disciples:

“And he said to them, ‘Come after me and I will make you fishers of people.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.” Matthew 4:19-20

God prepares you for the journey too, using skills and characteristics unique to you — they did not stop being fishermen, they become more than they could ever imagine, they become fishers of people.  Sometimes we may feel like our destiny in God is a cloudy and out-of-focus photo or painting — there are faint etchings that hint at what is beneath the surface but we cannot see the whole picture.  Perhaps one of the reasons we cannot see our own future is that it would be thoroughly overwhelming if we saw the problems, struggles and reshuffles we would face all at once and all the joys, celebrations and discoveries that intertwine them.  I imagine it would be like receiving the monopoly card ‘proceed to X spot, do not pass ‘go’ and do not collect €200’ — missing out on great opportunities and rewards that come with each part of the journey.

Today, I am thankful for the reshuffles. I can see the good that has come out of them, there are days when it is not as easy to see the good, but I still believe it is there because I can look back and see the good from other times. Over the past four years I have experienced immense change but also immeasurable, and often unexplainable, joy. I could not have written a better script for my life nor imagined one where the situations unfold as delightfully as they have. God to me is the unsurpassable virtuoso script-writer, who never lets the threads fray or become forgotten, but weaves a wholly good and polychromatic story uniquely mine.

 

First published in “Alive”, June 2018 Edition.

Family Prayer Walk for Dublin 30th December 2017

 

We are preparing our second Annual Family Prayer walk on Saturday morning, December 30th.

Last year, over 40 people turned up for the walk which included a short time of prayer for our city and for the year to come.

Do come along, , for a gentle walk in great company, and join us in a time of prayer for our city and for 2018.

 

The meeting point is at Ticknock carpark.

11am on Saturday 30th December.

 

Location

https://goo.gl/maps/Nr8NYvoXfbG2

 

 

 

 

 

Men’s Night of Worship 4th December 2017

“Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love”

Mens Night of Worship,

To be held in Christian Unity Week.

In partnership with Crinken Church, on Monday 4th December 2017 there will be a night of Men’s praise & worship at Crinken Church of Ireland. This is a great opportunity for men to come and spend time praising the Lord. Do come along.

Monday Evening 4th December 2017 at 8pm.

Crinken Church

 

Dublin Road

Crinken

Shankill

County Dublin.

 

Googlemap link to venue location.

https://goo.gl/maps/by6qToMztLP2

My Story-Ciaran Fletcher

 

My Story – Ciaran Fletcher

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

1 Peter 3:15

There have been 2 threads running through my life: my walk with God, and a love of Computers and technology.

I studied Computer Science in UCD, graduating in 1984 and going on to do a Master’s Degree. My wife is from Belgium and we have two boys who are both in University. We joined the Community of Nazareth in 2007.

My work has been mainly as a Software Engineer/Architect. It mainly consists of writing or designing software for companies that help their business processes – mostly not very memorable. There are a few exceptions; I designed the Card Management System for the Oyster Card in London, and built a Grass Management system for Teagasc, among other things. I currently work for an Irish company that writes software for Insurance companies worldwide.

That verse from 1 Peter at the top has been a significant verse in my life. While I was in University I started going to a prayer group near UCD. Some of the people were Christian missionaries and I would also meet them on campus. I not only heard in teaching at the prayer group that it is the job of every Christian to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them, but I was seeing it in action, walking alongside them, seeing them sharing their faith. I realised that I could do it but I needed training.

I ended up going to Germany for a 5 month evangelisation school with the International Catholic Program of Evangelisation. You spent 4 months learning about your faith and giving God an opportunity to work in your life, and 1 month on mission; I went to Poland. It made a very deep impact on my life and I ended up staying for 5 years.

I saw God’s faithfulness in providing for me. I also had the luxury of having time to pray scheduled into my day. I met my wife, Els in ICPE and we married 21 years ago and came to live in Dublin.

 

What does it mean to be a Christian in my working life?

One of the principles I have lived with for a good while is that if Christianity is to make a difference in my life, then it needs to make a difference in my working life. That is where most people spend a lot of their lives. But what exactly does that mean?

To me, it means first getting prayer, Church and support in place. I can’t live as a Christian on my own, I need others walking the same road with me. That is one of the reasons I joined the Community of Nazareth. I meet some Christian friends every Thursday for lunch in the business park where we work. Sometimes the topics are sport, family etc but also get into our Christian faith. I run a Men’s bible study because I need a way to interact with the Bible and I’m lazy enough to need a structured approach to doing it.

I think the verses from Matthew 5:13-14 express some of what I’m trying to get to:

13 “You are the salt of the earth. 14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

Salt flavours and seasons without being noticed; it preserves. Light pushes back darkness; it shows up the truth of what is there; it gives a beacon for someone to find their way to the light.

For me it is about integrity, keeping my promise, being faithful, responding with respect to managers who don’t treat you with respect, about how you have lunch and what you talk about. It’s about caring for the people around you and praying when they have a hard time and grieving with them when they hurt. Without you your work would be missing something, even if people can’t put their finger on what it is.

I won’t work for a company that is dishonest, or for example for a company that write gambling software. It’s also about what you won’t stand for.

It’s not about shoving your Christianity down people’s throats, but being open about who you are and give them an opportunity to ask if they want to. I don’t hide that I run a men’s bible study, it’s a normal part of my life. It’s about shining a light, but not about waving a torch into people’s eyes. Sensitivity counts. It’s about being real and authentic.

Occasionally I get asked about my faith, sometime at Christmas parties when people have had too much to drink. It brings me back to the first piece of scripture, about being ready to share why I believe and live as I do. It’s enough to let me know that my behaviour and my faith are noticed, even if I don’t think they are.

What do you think? What does it mean to you to live as a Christian in your work? How is different from the person beside you who is not a Christian? Could you put into words the reason why you have faith in Jesus if someone asks you?

Ciaran