Bishop Michael Router to bless engaged couples at the Shrine of Saint Valentine in Dublin

12 Feb 2022

Bishop Router offers The Prayer of Saint Valentine for all couples

Details below of engaged couples to receive a blessing from Bishop Router at the Shrine of the holy relics of Saint Valentine

12,748 people attended Accord’s sacramental marriage preparation courses across the island of Ireland during 2021 

Today, at 12.15pm, at the Shrine of the Saint Valentine in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Whitefriar Street, Dublin, Bishop Michael Router will pray with and bless four engaged couples at the casket containing holy relics of Saint Valentine.  Photo opportunities for media will be available.

Address by Bishop Router, Vice-President of Accord

This year, please God, my parents, Nora and Tony, will celebrate the 60th anniversary of their wedding day.  It is a wonderful milestone in their life and one that they reach with a deep sense of gratitude in their hearts.  Gratitude for the love they have shared over all those years, gratitude for the support of family and friends, but most importantly of all, gratitude for the close presence of God through all the happy, sad, and ordinary moments of life.

God was the always the third partner in their marriage and His guidance and support helped them on their journey together, enabling their love to grow and deepen over the years.  God has helped their love to be fruitful and shared with others. 

Naturally, their love has greatly benefitted me because the family is the first and most important foundation in the life of any human.  It is not always easy to live in family: relationships can sometimes be challenged and frayed by the wear and tear of life.  Family is for most people, however, the shelter in the storm and the reservoir of love to which we return time and time again to be nurtured, nourished, and healed.

In the Catholic faith we refer to the family as the ‘Domestic Church’.  It shows the respect we have for family as it is the unit on which the whole community of Church is built.  The Church, and society in general, struggles when family life experiences a crisis or becomes unstable.  It is our duty to support the family and to encourage and support young couples as they set out on the path of married life together and begin to form their own family and community of love.  This is not easy in a world that values individualism and a shallow consumerist approach to life.  Being committed to anyone or to anything is no longer valued and so many people wander aimlessly from one passing high to another.  In such an environment, we must try harder to make marriage and family work.  There is simply no substitute for it.

The Accord organisation, over the past sixty years, has helped engaged couples preparing for marriage to deepen their understanding of the sacrament and give them some very practical help and advice to navigate the unique and shared journey that is married life.  Accord has also been there for couples when difficulties and challenges arose in their relationship providing counselling and support to help them through.  These two wings of the Accord organisation, marriage preparation and marriage support, have contributed immensely to the lives of so many people and to the betterment of our society.

Today, as we approach the Feast of Saint Valentine, the patron saint of love, who gave his life to defend the importance of marriage, we gather here in Whitefriar’s Church, before the altar that contains his holy relics, to impart the special blessing of rings to the engaged couples here with us who will soon be married in the Catholic Church.  It is a moment of joy for each of the couples present as they await with excitement their wedding day, which will be the most significant moment in their lives.

My hope is that you will enjoy these days of preparation and excitement, but, more importantly, however, enjoy marriage.  Enjoy the support you will give to each other so that you can be the best that you can be and enjoy life to the full.  You know each other well, but don’t ever take each other for granted and never let the joy you find in each other escape.

Unfortunately, life is not always easy for young couples today.  Employment is not always secure, issues like the ever increasing cost of living, the scarcity of affordable housing, and the cost of childcare, can seem like insurmountable obstacles.  Often the expectations placed upon a young couple by themselves, or by others, can be unrealistic. 

In the interest of the common good, it is incumbent on all of us to support engaged and married couples by trying to create a society where wealth and possessions are not considered to be the most important of goals, but rather where the quality of relationships within marriage and family life are seen as the true indicators of success.

In his letter to married couples which he published to mark the “Amoris Laetita Family” Year 2021-2022, Pope Francis says to young people preparing for marriage:

‘Always trust in God’s providence, however limited your means, since at times, difficulties can bring out resources we did not even think we had.’

Pope Francis also said in a homily deliver in September 2014, that:

‘Marriage is a symbol of life, real life: it is not ‘fiction’! … I wish you happiness. There will be crosses! But the Lord is always there to help us move forward.’

I echo these words today to all those who are starting on the road of married life and those who are 20, 40, 60 or more years down that road.  Remember the Lord is always with you, He is by your side, He will never leave you!

So now I wish to offer the Prayer of Saint Valentine for you, and for all couples everywhere who are committed to each other in love:

Saint Valentine,
true servant who shed his blood
in defence of the sacraments and faith in Jesus Christ,
intercede for us today, we pray.

Gain for us the strength to be steadfast like you
in witnessing to the true faith to the end of our days,
and help us never to lose hope in the Lord
who is always near us.

Intercede for those men and women who are preparing for marriage:
help them to know one another and the true meaning
of the sacramental bond they are preparing to enter.

Intercede for those who are joined together
in the sacrament of marriage,
that they may never give up when trials come their way
but may remain faithful to each other,
and to the Lord who blessed their union.

May your love for the Lord be an inspiration for
our love for each other, for the love between husband and wife,
and for the love and charity we extend to all whom we meet.

Notes for Editors

  • Details of the engaged couples, how they met and why they are choosing to get married in the Catholic Church:

Sinead Lyons and Brendan Mullen

Sinead is originally from Ballyhaise in Co Cavan, and working as a secondary school teacher in Crumlin, Dublin 12. Brendan Mullen is originally from Killybegs, Co Donegal, and works as a Data Analyst for Irish Life, Dublin.  They met at Fleadh Cheoil 2012 in Cavan.

According to Sinead and Brendan, “The Catholic faith plays an important role in both our lives and the Sacrament of marriage is the next step in our commitment to each other and God’s plan for humanity.  We want the Sacrament of Marriage to make us spiritually stronger as a couple and for God to be present with us through our married life – through the ups and downs that we may experience.” 

Aisling McEntee and Daniel Queeney

Aisling is a business consultant and Daniel is a member of An Garda Síochána.  Aisling and David met when socialising in Maynooth but had known each other previously through GAA circles.  They live in Dunboyne, Co Meath.

It is important for Aisling and Daniel to get married in the Catholic Church.  Aisling said, “we are both practicing Catholics.  I have received all of my sacraments in the Church of Saint Peter & Paul in Dunboyne, and so it is very important to me to be married here also.”

Heather Andrews and Josh Warde

Living in Maynooth, bought their first home together in August 2019.  Heather is from Mullingar originally and Josh is Portlaoise/Mullingar.  Heather works in recruitment for Intel Ireland and Josh works in UCD as the GAA Development Officer.

Heather and Josh met in Dublin through a friend on 17 February 2014 (almost at the eight-year anniversary).  Josh was in college and Heather was on a year out before starting her studies.  They got engaged on 2021 November in Barcelona, Spain.  Heather said, “Josh was carrying the ring around all day extremely nervous waiting for the perfect opportunity, so after a long day of doing the tourist activities we were sat having a cocktail in a fabulous hotel and I was remarking how it was the perfect day and how I was so happy and things couldn’t get any better!  This is when Josh got down on one knee and made it the best day of my life!  Despite being together for almost 8 years I was completely in shock with tears running down my face so he had to ask me if I was going to say yes ha ha.”

Their wedding date is not set yet but it will be during the summer of 2023 in the Church of the Most Holy Rosary in Abbeyleix, Co Laois.

Leanne Hynes and Niall Noone

Leanne and Niall met socially in Dublin in 2008 and are living in Dublin since 2016 having travelled extensively.  Leanne is a nurse from Dublin and Niall works as a workplace services lead in an IT company called Squarespace, from Kilconnell in Galway.  Leanne’s parents live in Galway now (her Dad is chairperson of the Ballinasloe Accord centre and has been a facilitator on marriage preparation programmes for 12 years).  Leanne and Niall got engaged on 15 December 2018 in Krakow at the Christmas markets.  However, their wedding postponed on two occasions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  They attended the Accord marriage preparation programme during the Covid-19 restrictions of March 2021. 

Leanne said, “Niall and I met in the good old fashioned way: a ‘bar’ in Dublin city centre in September 2008.  I was completing my nursing degree in Trinity College, Dublin, and Niall was working in the city centre.

“Niall hails from a little village in Galway called Kilconnell and I have lived throughout my life in Dublin, Meath and Galway.  However, I must admit Galway is where mo chroi lies. My parents have since moved back to a little village between Loughrea and Athenry, and have being there now over twelve years.

“It is hard to describe our life in a snapshot especially since we have been together for so many years, so I will pick the key elements.  We decided to go travelling back in 2011 and have travelled the world together, we visited places such as Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and Bali to name but a few, we immersed ourselves in new and exciting cultures, adventures and picked up a few friends for life along our way.

“In 2016 we made the decision to return home and have since settled in Dublin.  It is hard to put into words who or what we as a couple represent, all we can simple say is, that we are best friends and the perfect balance, and always bring out the best in each other.

“On 15 December 2018 Niall asked me to be his wife at the Christmas markets in Krakow, we had just attended the most amazing carol service in a little hidden church off the forecourt of the main square in Krakow.  He proposed at 18:00hrs and we were surrounded by bells tolling and the most magnificent snow shower we had ever witnessed, not to mention the biggest ‘Yes’ ever!  Once our emotions settled, Niall escorted me over to the most amazing horse and carriage from which I was so excited about, as I kept asking throughout the whole trip if we could go on one.  However, what I didn’t know at the time was that we weren’t going on the horse and carriage this time either, as we approached the horse it slowly started to walk away and behind it was some of our dearest friends with a bottle of bubbly ready to celebrate, and we did celebrate.  It was amazing!

“Niall and I will be together fourteen years when we marry on 9 December 2022 in Saint Mary’s Church on Haddington Road, Dublin.   In preparation for our marriage in the Catholic Church, we attended the Accord pre-marriage course in March 2021.  We had such a wonderful experience participating in this course (online due to Covid restrictions).  What we particularly enjoyed was receiving a handbook that we could privately reflect upon, in our own time, with respect to challenges married life may produce and how to manage it, whilst also developing skills in areas of compromise, acceptance and other key indicators for a successful life together.

“Our upcoming wedding like so many others had to be postponed on two occasions due to the pandemic, although in a strange way we feel it will add something special to our big day and not only for us, but for our families and friends too, we cannot wait.  We are fortunate that Niall’s sister, Eimear Noone, is an internationally renowned composer and conductor whilst also being the first female to conduct the Oscars in February 2020.  So, naturally, we have handed over in completion the musical essence of our day to her.  We ourselves will have little to no knowledge of the music that will be performed during our ceremony … all very exciting!  Following on from the church we will travel to Ballymagarvey village in Balrath, Co Meath, for our reception.  We don’t really have a theme for our wedding but definitely seeking both elegance and sophistication with undertones of our bubbly and bright personalities.

“We feel the road we have travelled has brought us to this exact moment, and it will be the most inspiring and special day of our lives.  As we always say, ‘We are in the right place at the right time doing exactly what we are meant to be doing’, and we cannot wait to see where the path ahead leads us, but we are very excited!”


Notes for Editors

  • Archbishop Dermot Farrell is the Archbishop of Dublin.  Father Simon Nolan, O.Carm is Prior, and Father Seán Mac Giollarnáth O.Carm is Parish Priest, of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. 
  • Bishop Michael Router is Vice-President of Accord and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Armagh.  During the calendar year of 2021, 12,748 people attended Accord’s sacramental marriage preparation courses across the island of Ireland.  This represents a 53% increase on 2020.  Due to the restrictions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, these courses were held online.  Comparing bookings for Accord Marriage preparation courses in January 2022, to that of January 2021, there has been a 39% increase in enrolment.  Accord’s marriage preparation and marriage counselling services are offered from 54 offices, north and south, on the island of Ireland.  Accord is managed from three corporate centres based in Maynooth, Dublin and Belfast.
  • The holy relics of Saint Valentine are contained in a reliquary within a dedicated shrine in the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Carmelite Church on Whitefriar Street), in the Archdiocese of Dublin.  The church was founded by Father John Spratt (1796-1871) in 1825 on the site of the 13th century Carmelite Monastery.  The church was opened in 1826 and he became its first Prior.  Father Pratt was renowned in Europe for his skill as a preacher.  Following a visit to Rome in 1835 Pope Gregory XVI was so impressed that he gave Father Pratt a reliquary containing relics of Saint Valentine which he brought back to Whitefriar Street in Dublin.  Saint Valentine was a priest who married couples in defiance of the Roman emperor Claudius II’s edict and he was martyred on 14 February around 269 or 270 AD.
  • Photographs from the blessing of the engaged couples will be available to media from John McElroy on +353 (0) 87 241 6985 and [email protected].                                                    

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Katie Crosby +353 (0) 86 8623298.