Record number of bookings for ACCORD marriage preparation courses

12 Feb 2009

12 February 2009

Record number of bookings for ACCORD marriage preparation courses

  • An average of 38 couples per day booked marriage preparation courses in January
  • 2008 preliminary figures indicate a 4% increase in marriage preparation bookings
  • received 189,100 ‘hits’ in 2007 and 194,267 hits in 2008
  • ‘Leadership, Creation and Vocation’ to be theme for the 2009 ACCORD annual conference

In advance of the feast of Saint Valentine on Saturday, Ms Ruth Barror, National Director of ACCORD, today announced new figures for services offered by the Catholic Marriage Care Service.   The announcement took place at Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin, where the relics of Saint Valentine are interred.

Ms Barror said “On Monday Minister Mary Hanafin, Minister for Social and Family Affairs, announced the provision of €3.45m funding for the work of ACCORD in 2009.  On behalf of the 900 ACCORD volunteers, I wish to thank Minister Hanafin for this funding which will help us to help our clients to initiate, sustain and enrich their marriages particularly in the current difficult economic situation which is affecting the lives and homes of families throughout Ireland.

“I wish to particularly concur with Minister Hanafin’s comments when she said that ‘Early intervention, counselling and support can help families to avert a much deeper crisis causing a family break-up, and the professional services available for couples, families and children … is a vital service.’”

Ms Barror continued, “Marriage is a journey and not a destination.  The decision to get married is the most important decision a couple will make in their lifetime.  In addition, marriage contributes significantly to the common good of society.

“For the first time ACCORD can  publish figures based on our new online booking services for pre-marriage courses.  In January, an average of 38 couples per day booked their ACCORD marriage preparation course on  Our latest figures also show that 9,500 couples attended ACCORD marriage preparation courses in 2007 while preliminary figures for 2008 indicate that 9,880 couples attended our marriage preparation courses, a 4% increase over 2007.”

Bishop Willie Walsh, President of ACCORD, launched the related website on 5 December 2005.  The number of ‘hits’ on has risen to 194,267 in 2008.  The figure for 2007 was 189,100.

Ms Barror said, “Feedback from couples to ACCORD volunteers suggested that it would make their busy lives much easier if couples could avail of a ‘one stop shop’ to obtain information, downloaded at the touch of a button, to assist in preparing for marriage from engagement up to their wedding day.  I am delighted to report today that has been very successful in that regard.

“Also available on this website is Planning Your Wedding Day.  This publication was launched exactly one year ago and provides couples with information on the Church and State documents, relevant to the North and South of Ireland, required for the preparation of marriage.  To date, 13,000 copies have been distributed to presbyteries around the country to assist priests in providing the most up-to-date information to couples as they begin their preparations to receive the Sacrament of Marriage.”

Ms Barror concluded, “ACCORD’s 2009 annual conference will be held in Galway on the 6, 7 and 8 March and will be opened by Minister Hanafin.  Bishop Willie Walsh will also address the volunteers on the opening night.  The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Leadership, Creation and Vocation’.  ACCORD services are delivered by volunteers who work to a recognised professional standard.  Our annual conference offers participants the opportunity to continue their professional development and renew their commitment to the vocation of marriage.”

Notes for Editors

  • ACCORD, the Catholic Marriage Care Service, is an agency of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.  ACCORD has 58 centres in the North and South of Ireland.  All volunteers undergo professional counselling training and/or facilitation training in advance of becoming members of ACCORD.  Every year ACCORD volunteers receive continuous professional developmental training and are in supervision.  See and
  • provides a wedding booklet facility which allows couples to create their marriage booklet online, a task which many find challenging. There is also a frequently asked questions section and of particular interest are the essential steps in the marriage preparation journey which is available on the website in a timeline format.
  • Relics of Saint Valentine are interred in the Carmelite Church in Whitefriar Street, Dublin.  Saint Valentine, a priest in ancient Rome, is regarded as the patron saint of couples in love, preparing for marriage and of married life.  Saint Valentine was martyred on 14 February 250 AD.  Pagan ritual associated 14 February with love and after his death this date became associated with St Valentine.  In 1836 relics that were exhumed from the catacombs of Saint Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina, then near Rome, were identified with Saint Valentine.  These relics were placed in a casket, donated by Pope Gregory XVI, and transported to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin.
  • To coincide with the publication of the new figures from ACCORD, a special blessing of the rings ceremony was held at the Shrine of St Valentine, at which Fr David Weakliam, parish priest of Whitefriar Street Church, blessed the rings of engaged couple Stephen Long from Dunboyne, Co Meath and Deirdre Moran from Castlebar, Co Mayo

Further information:
Martin Long, Director of the Catholic Communications Office on 086 172 7678
Ms Kathy Tynan, Communications Officer on 01 5053011 and 086 817 5674