• My core message today is: for those who are experiencing difficulty in their marriage and family, ACCORD exists to assist you to address, at every stage, these fundamental and vital human relationships – Bishop Jones
• We need to shout out the good news that marriage and family serve the common good of our Christian community and also of our wider society – Bishop Jones
• In 2012 throughout Ireland: 14,232 people attended ACCORD marriage preparation courses; ACCORD delivered 50,422 marriage counselling hours – see regional breakdown below
New figures for the year 2012 and which have been released today by ACCORD indicate an increase in demand for its two key services: marriage preparation; and separately, in marriage counselling. ACCORD, the Catholic marriage care service, operates sixty centres throughout Ireland – North and South – and is an agency of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
Over each of the last three years 2010, 2011 and 2012, there has been a modest year-on-year increase in demand for ACCORD marriage preparation courses, with an average of 7,000 couples taking their marriage preparation course each year. See below regional breakdown of statistics and three-year aggregated trend chart illustrated.
Separately, demand by individuals and couples for ACCORD’s marriage counselling service has also risen over the last three years. ACCORD delivered 43,627 hours counselling in 2010 rising to 50,422 hours in 2012. The number of counselling cases in 2010 was 6,185 and in 2012 the number rose to 6,536. This increase reflects a number of factors including ACCORD’s reputation as the provider of quality counselling to individuals and couples in marriage and relationships. See below regional breakdown of statistics and three-year aggregate trend chart illustrated. ACCORD’s counselling service is based on the needs of clients, and not on their ability to pay. This approach ensures that those in financial difficulties are able to access ACCORD’s counselling service. Accord’s network of sixty centres throughout Ireland ensures that its counselling service is widely available in both urban and rural areas. In addition to ACCORD’s marriage and relationship counselling service, the agency also offers specialist services in domestic violence counselling and fertility and wellbeing. An overview of ACCORD’s 2012 counselling figures indicate that:
– Levels of anxiety and stress reported by clients remain high although there has been a marginal decrease from 87% in 2010, to 83% in 2011 and to 82% in 2012.
– Reports of communication difficulties have risen since 2010 when 74% of individuals reported criticism and insults, and 79% reported not listening/ignoring as a problem in their relationship, in 2011 and in 2012 the figures rose to 78% and 82% respectively.
– 58% of individuals presenting to ACCORD in 2012 rated financial difficulties as a problem, this is a 2% increase over 2011 when 56% reported finances as a problem.
– Levels of emotional abuse reported by clients have risen in the three year period from 54% in 2010, to 59% in both 2011 and 2012.
– Levels of depression reported by clients have remained the same in 2012 and 2011 at 51%. This is a decrease of 6% from 2010 when 57% rated depression as a problem.
– Concerns about separation have risen over the past three years from 52% in 2010 to 57% in 2011 and 66% in 2012.
– The number of clients reporting infidelity as a problem has risen slightly over the three year period, from 24% in 2010, to 25% in 2011 and to 26% in 2012.
– Reports of physical violence in relationships have shown a decrease over the three year period ranging from 19% in 2010 to 14% in 2011 and to 13% in 2012.
Special blessing of engaged couple at the Relics of Saint Valentine
To coincide with the ACCORD launch, Bishop Christopher Jones, Bishop of Elphin and President of ACCORD blessed an engaged couple Ms Holly Asaa from Maynooth, and Mr John Delaney from Borris-In-Ossory, who will be getting married in Ladychapel Church, Maynooth, in August. Bishop Jones said, “I am very happy to have the opportunity to officiate at this special blessing of Holly and John, the engaged couple with us today at Whitefriar Street Parish Church and who are preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage. We gather for this blessing , appropriately, beside the tomb and shrine of Saint Valentine, which for generations has been a place of pilgrimage and prayer for couples wishing to express their love for one another. Today let us pray together at this holy place for Holly and John, and let us pray also for engaged couples everywhere.” (see Prayer for Engaged Couples below)
Bishop Jones continued, “ACCORD, Catholic Marriage Care Service is delighted to be busier than ever as it supports couples as they prepare for the Sacrament of Marriage. Our feedback from clients has been positive and speaks for itself with increasing numbers of couples choosing to participate in an ACCORD marriage preparation course. We offer ACCORD courses in various locations in the 26 dioceses on the island of Ireland. This is an investment couples are choosing to make as they prepare for one of the biggest decisions of their lives and we in ACCORD feel privileged to work with them as they strive to put in place the building blocks of what will hopefully help them to enter into a happy and solid marriage.
“While an increase in demand for marriage preparation courses is a positive development, ACCORD figures also indicate an increase in 2012 in demand for our marriage counselling service and, sadly, this tells another story. Difficult economic times have put pressure on people and in turn on their marriage and on their family relationships. My key message today is: for those who are experiencing difficulty in their marriage and family, ACCORD exists to assist you to address, at every stage, these fundamental and vital human relationships.
“ACCORD believes that education is key and is involved in an extensive schools education programme for young people teaching them about relationships and marriage. We have a strong tradition of marriage and family in Ireland. Each year large numbers of couples choose to get married and of these a significant majority choose the Sacrament of Marriage – to get married in the Church. We need to encourage and offer them every possible support .”
Bishop Jones concluded, “We need to shout out the good news that marriage and family serves the common good of our Christian community and also that of our wider society. We need to support those preparing for and living the Sacrament of Marriage and family life and protect the institutions of marriage and family. One of the ways in which we can promote marriage and the family is to highlight the happiness and joy which come from being faithful to a marriage and to family life while, at the same time, we must be ever aware to acknowledge with compassion and support those couples experiencing difficulty. In this way we can start the process of helping them in overcoming their difficulties.”
Notes for Editors
• Photographs from today’s ACCORD launch are available from the Catholic Communications Office in Maynooth: 00 353 (1) 5053017
• There are almost 800 volunteers professionally trained involved in this work with ACCORD throughout the 26 dioceses of Ireland. ACCORD, as an agency established and supported by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, aims to promote a deeper understanding of Christian marriage and to offer people the means to safeguard and nourish their marriage and family relationships. The first ACCORD centre in Ireland was opened fifty one years ago in Saint Mary’s Parish, Belfast, in 1962. ACCORD operates in sixty centres throughout the island of Ireland – North and South – and is committed to providing a quality service. Personnel, coming from a wide range variety of backgrounds, are appropriately trained and work under supervision in accordance with best practice. Our clients are accepted regardless of their social, religious or ethnic background, as being of unique worth and capable of self-determination and growth.
• The Family Support Agency of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (RoI) is a major source of funding for ACCORD. ACCORD also operates with the support of the Health Service Executive (RoI) and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (NI) and various Trusts in NI.
• 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 who are 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 Saint 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.
• Prayer for Engaged Couples
Heavenly Father, we praise You for your wisdom in arranging
that man and woman should not be alone but should unite themselves
to each other to form a living cell or unit,
bringing forth new members for your kingdom.
Bless all couples who have manifested their intention
to unite in marriage in the future.
Keep them close to You and to one another,
deepen their spirit of prayer and love,
and lead them to receive the Sacrament of marriage with joy and happiness.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
• The following breakdown of figures relate to the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 and was based on returns from ACCORD centres in its six regions across the island of Ireland. The data relates to both attendance at marriage preparation courses, and separately, for hours delivered by the ACCORD counselling service. See also bar graphs below illustrating aggregate trends in demand for ACCORD marriage preparation courses and for the ACCORD marriage counselling service for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012:
Central Region – centres: Athlone, Ballina, Ballinasloe, Charlestown, Longford, Mullingar, Navan, Roscommon, Sligo, Tullamore.
Marriage preparation attendance: in the year 2010 – 2082 individuals; in 2011 – 2092 individuals; in 2012 – 2444 individuals.
Counselling hours delivered: in the year 2010 – 4854 hours; in 2011 – 5453 hours; in 2012 – 5551 hours.
Dublin Region – centres: Ballymun, Blanchardstown, Bray, Clondalkin, Dun Laoighaire, Harcourt Street, Tallaght, Templeogue, Lucan, Marino, Phibsborough, Swords.
Marriage preparation attendance: in the year 2010 – 2570 individuals; in 2011 – 2376 individuals; in 2012 – 2236 individuals
Counselling hours delivered: in the year 2010 – 18,177 hours; in 2011 – 19,802 hours; in 2012 – 19,968 hours.
Northern Region – centres: Armagh, Ballymena, Belfast, Derry, Downpatrick, Enniskillen, Maghera, Newry, NI Regional office, Omagh.
Marriage preparation attendance: in the year 2010 – 2944 individuals; in 2011 – 2928 individuals; in 2012 – 2882 individuals
Counselling hours delivered: in the year 2010 – 3133 hours; in 2011 – 3350 hours; in 2012 – 3181 hours
South East Region – centres: Carlow, Clonmel, Kilkenny, Newbridge, Portlaoise, Thurles, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford.
Marriage preparation attendance: in the year 2010 – 1776 individuals; in 2011 – 2060 individuals; in 2012 – 2112 individuals
Counselling hours delivered: in the year 2010 – 5276 hours; in 2011 – 6910 hours; in 2012 – 7316 hours
South West Region – centres: Bantry, Cloyne, Ennis, Killarney, Limerick, Newcastle West, Nenagh, Tralee.
Marriage preparation attendance: in the year 2010 – 2246 individuals; in 2011 – 2379 individuals; in 2012 – 2328 individuals
Counselling hours delivered: in the year 2010 – 5576 hours; in 2011 – 6211 hours; in 2012 – 6272
West/North East Region – centres: Inishowen, Letterkenny, Donegal, Galway, Castlebar, Tuam, Cavan, Monaghan, Dundalk, Drogheda
Marriage preparation attendance: in the year 2010 – 2345 individuals; in 2011 – 2210 individuals; in 2012 – 2230 individuals
Counselling hours delivered: in the year 2010 – 6302 hours; in 2011 – 7250 hours; in 2012 – 8134 hours
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: 00 353 (1) 5053017, Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 1727678