Demand for Catholic marriage service Accord increases

‘Difficult economic times put pressure on people’, says bishop

Bishop Christopher Jones said Accord was “pleased to be busier than ever as we support couples preparing for the sacrament of marriage”. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Bishop Christopher Jones said Accord was “pleased to be busier than ever as we support couples preparing for the sacrament of marriage”. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 


The Catholic Church’s marriage care service Accord experienced an increase in demand for its marriage preparation services last year. Figures published yesterday show more than 7,600 couples took part in the service’s marriage preparation courses in 2013, an increase of 7.2 per cent on 2012.


Average of seven sessions
Its counsellors delivered 50,952 hours of marriage counselling hours in 2013, up from 50,629 hours in 2012. The 2013 figure involved 6,324 cases, 56 per cent of which were couples and 44 per cent of which were individuals. In all, 9,890 people attended Accord for counselling last year, having an average of seven counselling sessions.

Where cost is concerned, Accord’s services are based on the needs of clients, not ability to pay, ensuring that those under financial pressure can access its counselling services at a cost they can afford.

An agency of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, it operates 58 centres throughout the island of Ireland.

Accord president Bishop Christopher Jones said yesterday it was “pleased to be busier than ever as we support couples preparing for the sacrament of marriage”.

Feedback from clients “has been positive and speaks for itself” with more couples participating in Accord marriage preparation courses, he said.


Increase in demand
“While an increase in demand for marriage preparation courses is a positive development, Accord figures also indicate an increase in 2013 in demand for our marriage counselling service and, sadly, this tells another story,” he added.

“Difficult economic times have put pressure on people and in turn on their marriage and on their family relationships. Today my key message is for those who are experiencing difficulty in their marriage and family: Accord exists to help you explore, reflect upon and resolve difficulties in your marriage and relationship.”

Accord’s figures were launched at Whitefriar Street Carmelite church in Dublin yesterday at the shrine of St Valentine, where engaged couple Helen Young and Conor Kavanagh were blessed by Fr Bernard Murphy, curate at the church.