“Domestic abuse, domestic violence, silent stonewalling are a much deeper pandemic that becomes all the more exacerbated in a pandemic lockdown.” Those were the words of Bishop Denis Nulty during the recent graduation ceremony of sixteen counsellors and nineteen graduates in Marriage Facilitation Ministry for Accord Catholic Marriage Care Service CLG at the College Chapel of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, on 4 December.

Bishop Nulty, who is President of Accord told the graduates that they will have to be at the heart of the Church’s “synodal process” which is underway in every diocese and throughout the world.

“You have the training, you have the skill-set, and you have the ear to hear what is being said and sometimes what is not being said,” he said.

Challenges of pandemic

He noted that the new omicron variant of the pandemic “has shifted gear once again into a greater level of restrictions and curtailment on personal freedoms.”

“New public health instructions around mask-wearing in schools from third class, and the return of restrictions around nightclubs, hospitality industry and indoor cultural, community, sport and entertainment gatherings have jolted all of us,” he observed.

Bishop Nulty underlined that the world is perhaps “experiencing the most challenging of times since World War II.”

Healing the wounded

Accord is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its foundation in 2022, and Bishop Nulty pointed out that the organisation’s first concern must always be “to heal the wounded, such as to provide the listening ear of the counsellor to help accompany the couple or individual on their journey to greater self-confidence and esteem.”

Pope Francis, he continued, “regularly uses the image of the Church becoming a ‘field hospital.’  “This image resonates superbly with our ministry in Accord, namely: the calling of the counsellor to accompany; the call of the facilitator to deliver, and the call of the centre member to be present for and with one another,” the bishop said.

Bishop Nulty went on to say that the agency can be proud of its achievements, especially in its service and outreach during the pandemic.

He noted, in particular, the ‘Covid-19 Couples and Relationship line’ which was established overnight to respond to those who needed support in lockdown and said that domestic abuse and domestic violence had worsened during lockdowns.

In conclusion, Bishop Nulty told the graduates that they will have a ministry that doesn’t just have a positive effect on those they work with, but a ministry that offers rich rewards of personal fulfilment.

These counsellors and facilitators will serve in the three Accord companies on the island: Accord CLG, Accord Dublin CLG and Accord Northern Ireland CLG.

ENDS