Knock Marriage Introductions to close after more than 50 years in operation
Knock Marriage Introductions - formerly known as the Knock Marriage Bureau - is to be wound down, it has been announced.
In a statement issued by the Catholic Communications Office, Fr Stephen Farragher announced its closure as the service was no longer "sustainable in the long term".
Online dating and apps have rendered the service redundant as people can now connect at the touch of a button, the statement said.
The agency - which began its service in 1968 - was responsible for some 960 marriages and introduced many couples to each other. The service was based at Knock Shrine, Co Mayo, in the diocese of Tuam.
Fr Farragher said there has been a noticeable decline in demand for their service in recent years, stating that when it was first established, Ireland was a very different country.
"When Father Michael Keane had the vision to establish the agency back in the 1960s in Ireland, the west of Ireland in particular, was a very different place.
"Emigration was rife and most of the means of communication that today we take for granted were practically non-existent.
"The advent of the internet and online dating agencies, and apps have made it possible for people to meet a partner literally at the touch of a button," Fr Farragher said, before noting that the Knock service was able to offer confidentiality to service users.
"Many of the couples who met through Knock Marriage Introductions commented on the personal nature of the service and that they felt safe and secure being able to speak to someone in confidence at the end of a phone.2
Annual subscriptions to the service had to be supplemented in recent years from funding from dioceses around the country as demand has fallen, and the service is no longer viable.
"In recent years there has been a noticeable decline in the demand for the service offered by Knock Marriage Introductions, to the point that is no longer viable to run the service.
"The annual subscriptions from clients who have used the service have had to be supplemented in recent years by donations from dioceses around Ireland. Obviously this is not sustainable long term.
"It is for these reasons that the Board of Directors of Knock Marriage Introductions have decided at a recent meeting to wind down the agency.
"We do so with heavy hearts, but happy in the knowledge that at least for 960 couples, it played a part in helping them to become husband and wife.
"We wish to express our gratitude to all who worked for the agency, especially the women who answered the calls and who were responsible for making the introductions.
"We extend particular thanks to Father Michael Keane who was the founder and first director and to Canon Joe Cooney who took over the mantle from him and was director until his retirement two years ago."
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