ACCORD Saint Valentine’s Mass now in its fourteenth year

17 Feb 2013

Sunday 17 February 2013

• Special ‘Mass of Commitment’ celebrated for engaged couples in Newry and Armagh
• Applicants are invited to train as ACCORD counsellors

The celebration of Mass at 12.00 noon on Sunday 17 February in the Cathedral of Saints Patrick and Colman, Newry had a special meaning for some in the congregation as it was a ‘Mass of Commitment for Engaged Couples’. This Mass was concelebrated by Canon Michael Hackett, Priest Director of ACCORD Newry, and Father Peter Murphy, National Chaplain of ACCORD.

The Mass had a special significance for those preparing for marriage in the Diocese of Dromore and neighbouring parts of the Archdiocese of Armagh. The couples, who had travelled from all parts of the diocese and from the local area, heard Canon Hackett speak of the uniqueness and sacredness of their upcoming new life together after marriage. Canon Hackett said, “As partners you are unique. You come from different family backgrounds, but you are committing yourselves to be one, to strive for unity of heart, mind and body. Because of your uniqueness you will spend a lifetime getting to know each other and loving each other more deeply. God bless you and your love for one other.”

Father Murphy conducted the final blessing with the Marriage Prayer Cross of Saint Brigid, a specially designed large wooden cross which has become a central symbol at significant ACCORD events. Later, at a short reception held in the Newry Parish Centre, the couples had an opportunity to speak with Canon Hackett, Father Murphy and the counsellors, facilitators and administrative staff of ACCORD Newry who had organized this special event.

The Mass of Commitment, now in its fourteenth year, is an important part of the annual programme of activities and courses organised by the Marriage and Relationships Education Service in ACCORD Newry. The Newry Centre, established in 1966 and officially opened to the public in 1967, also offers relationships and couples counselling and a fertility and well-being service. It is part of a network of sixty ACCORD centres serving people on the island of Ireland in the areas of marriage preparation, and separately, in marriage counselling.

While couples may choose to contact their local ACCORD Centre directly in order to apply for a place on a forthcoming marriage preparation course, places on ACCORD courses can also be booked on

Separately ACCORD is currently inviting applications from individuals with no previous training in counselling to apply for selection for the ACCORD Higher Diploma in Counselling in Marriage & Relationships commencing in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, in September 2013. Those interested can obtain application forms and information on Recruitment for those interested in working with couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage is currently taking place. For information contact your local ACCORD Centre, details available on the website.

Further information about all aspects of the work of ACCORD, and in particular the practicalities of preparing for marriage and for the marriage ceremony, can be found at and on


• Enquiries about recruitment about all of ACCORD services in the Newry area can be made by calling 028 3026 3577 or by emailing [email protected] (local South Down/Armagh press only)

• There are almost 800 volunteers professionally trained involved in this work with ACCORD throughout the 26 Catholic dioceses on the island of Ireland – North and South. 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 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 social, religious or ethnic background, as being of unique worth and capable of self-determination and growth.

• 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.

• ACCORD centres in Northern Ireland are located in: Armagh, Ballymena, Belfast, Derry, Downpatrick, Enniskillen, Maghera, Newry, NI Regional office, and Omagh. Last year 2,882 people attend marriage preparation courses in Northern Ireland. In terms of marriage counselling 3,181 hours were delivered by ACCORD counsellors across Northern Ireland in 2012.

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678