Wednesday, 10 September 2014 22:45




Australian couple Dr Ron and Mavis Pirola, chairs of the Australian Bishops' Catholic Marriage and Family Council and on the Pontifical Council for the Family for over a decade, are among 14 married couples who have been chosen from around the world to attend October's Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family.

If there can be guilt by association, there can be grace by association. There have been links over many years with the Pirolas because of their pioneering and ongoing work with the Antioch Movement and Marriage Encounter.

Fr John Shalvey MSC was the first national chaplain of Antioch. Frs Doug Smith MSC and John Rate MSC have long been part of the Marriage Encounter movement.

What follows are some excerpts from publications in 2011.


Three teenagers, Byron, Teresa and Claire Pirola, having experienced an Antioch weekend in New York, introduced the youth movement into their parish of St Mary and St Joseph, Maroubra Bay in 1981.

From there, this parish-based movement spread to neighbouring parishes and across Australia and even overseas – to New Zealand, Fiji, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Hungary and Slovakia.

The theme of the anniversary celebrations was one of thanksgiving for the many blessings over 30 years. For this reason, it was held at the parish "where it all began".

The first Antioch National Chaplain, Fr John Shallvey MSC travelled from Bourke to concelebrate with Bishop Comensoli. Other concelebrating priests were: Mons Vincent Casey and Frs David Ranson, Ron Nissen SM, Bill Challenor, Marc Barry SDB, Damian Mosakowski OSPPE, Peter Hearn MSC, Tony O'Brien MSC, Joshua Gopini MSC and Greg Morgan.

From Australian Catholic News, 2011.

Report on the pilgrimage to World Youth Day, 2011: Our celebration of Mass at St Peter's was in a very privileged place – the Central Altar of the Crypt of the Basilica, within view of the spot where the bones of St Peter were discovered in 1939. The symbolism was powerful. As our two MSC chaplains, Fr Peter Hearn and Fr Josh Gopini (both of Randwick Parish) raised the sacred host and chalice at consecration, they were in a direct line of vision with the tomb of St Peter. They were also in a direct line of ordination through the Bishops who had ordained them all the way back to the original Bishop (and Pope) two millennia ago. Immediately on our right was the site where the late Pope John Paul II had been buried six years ago. Immediately after the Mass we were able to go upstairs to the main part of the basilica and pray where Pope John Paul II's body was moved at his beatification three months ago. From OLSH Parish, Randwick, News, 2011.


On Sunday 13 February, 2011, the Worldwide Marriage Encounter Movement celebrated 37 years in Australia!

To mark this special milestone the founding leaders - Ron and Mavis Pirola joined the Marriage Encounter Community and their families for a picnic in the beautiful surrounds of Mt. Schoenstatt at Mulgoa.

38 years ago Ron and Mavis experienced a Marriage Encounter Weekend in the USA. They were so impressed by the concept of the 'weekend' that they, together with theAustralian Oblate Father Joe McCann (who had also experienced the same weekend) and help from the USA Marriage Encounter Community began the Marriage Encounter
Movement in Australia.

A year later, in 1974 the first Marriage Encounter Weekend happened and since then over 30,000 couples, priests and religious have enriched their marriages and relationship with God, through this experience.