More Irish Catholics than ever are seeking marriage guidance counseling from the Church – even before they get married.
New figures from Accord, the Catholic Church’s marriage care service, have confirmed an increase in demand for its marriage preparation services in 2013.
The Irish Times reports that more than 7,600 couples engaged in Accord’s marriage preparation courses last year. The figure represents an increase of 7.2 percent on 2012.
Accord counsellors delivered 50,952 hours of marriage counseling hours in 2013, up from 50,629 hours in 2012.
The report says the 2013 figure involved 6,324 cases, 56 percent of which were couples and 44 percent of which were individuals.
It says that in total, 9,890 people attended Accord for counselling last year with an average of seven counseling sessions each.
The report adds that Accord’s services are based on the needs of clients, not ability to pay, and ensures that those under financial pressure can access its counselling services at a cost they can afford.
Run by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Accord operates 58 centers Ireland.
Accord president Bishop Christopher Jones told the paper: “We are 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.
“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 counseling 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.
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.”