Bishops bless engaged couples as 7,254 couples were prepared for marriage in 2023

16 Feb, 2024 | Bishops, Church, News

This week, bishops blessed engaged couples in Dublin and Belfast ahead of Saint Valentine’s Day.  The blessings at two sacred sites in both cities have become permanent fixtures at this time of year in the calendar of each local church.

The blessings coincided with the launch, by Accord the Catholic Marriage Preparation and Counselling Service, of its new Marriage Preparation Programme – the first update of content in twenty years – as well as the announcement that the three Accord Companies: Belfast-based Accord NI; Maynooth-based Accord CLG; and Accord Dublin, together, prepared 7,265 couples for the Sacrament of Marriage across the island of Ireland in 2023.

On 12 February, Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare & Leighlin and President of Accord CLG, celebrated Mass in the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Whitefriar Street in Dublin, wherein he thanked the Prior, Father Simon Nolan, and the Carmelite team, for their warm welcome.

Bishop Nulty said, “This is the church of the relics of Saint Valentine, but more importantly it is the church just off one of the busiest thoroughfares in the city, where people call into say a quite prayer, to light a candle, to go to Confession or to attend Mass.  I welcome the visitors to this Shrine who are gathering with us for Mass this morning.  Wednesday is Saint Valentine’s Day, it is also Ash Wednesday.  We have had the clash of dates before, most recently in 2018 and before that in 1945!  So the choice on Wednesday will be ‘romance’ or ‘penance’!  Immediately after this Mass I will bless the two engaged couples – Sinéad and Darren; Siobhan and Kieran – and their rings, over at the Shrine of the holy relics of Saint Valentine.”

On 13 February, at Our Lady’s Grotto in Saint Mary’s on Chapel Lane the oldest Catholic church in Belfast – Bishop Michael Router, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Armagh, and Vice-President of Accord, offered Mass for the work of Accord NI, whose headquarters are on the grounds of Saint Mary’s, and for all the three couples preparing for marriage, for who are married and for those who avail of the services of Accord NI.

Bishop Router said, “I pray especially today for three couples, Megan Neeson and Ben Mc Fetridge, Andrea Tohill and Hugh Corr and Nolan Devlin and Josefa Lasota, who are preparing for marriage in the near future.  I will bless their engagement and wedding rings after Mass in the adjoining grotto.”

There is a generations-old tradition of couples attending the grotto to propose marriage.

See the full content of both homilies on



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