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Parish & Marriage Resource Centre, Australia




PMRC Report 2016-2017

CONTENTS WELCOME.................................................................................. 5 MARRIAGE RESOURCE CENTRE........................7

MRC Introduction.................................................................... 8 Renaissance of Marriage Conference............................. 12

THE SMARTLOVING SERIES.................................... 14

Marriage.....................................................................................16 Engaged....................................................................................20 BreakThrough.........................................................................26 In the UK................................................................................... 32 In Asia........................................................................................36 Online Resources.................................................................. 40 In the Media............................................................................ 44 CATHFAMILY................................................................. 48

LIVINGWELL MEDIA...................................................... 67 My School Diary Series.......................................................68 Rosary Keychain.................................................................... 74 Total Gift of Self..................................................................... 75 FRANKLY.................................................................................. 76 Video & Digital Production............................................... 80 Design Services.......................................................................81 Meet the Team........................................................................82

PMRC RELATIONSHIP EDUCATION FOUNDATION.......................................................................85

Introduction............................................................................ 54 Available Courses...................................................................61

Donations.................................................................................86 Projects Funded..................................................................... 87 Financial Statements...........................................................88 Management Committee....................................................89


PMRC AND ITS INFLUENCES.............................. 90

THE STICK KIT..................................................................... 53

Mission.......................................................................................64 World Youth Day...................................................................65 Antioch in Hungary...............................................................66

PMRC FINANCIALS..........................................................91


PMRC Report 2016-2017


Welcome to the 2016-2017 Report. We present this report to help showcase the work of PMRC (Australia) and its many activities. Every year sees continued growth of the work of PMRC and its many, many volunteers, both across Australia, and increasingly, across the world. The work of PMRC is entirely self-funding, through revenue raised through its activities, or donation through its foundation. PMRC itself is a registered charity and all its operations are not-forprofit. Indeed, the vast majority of ‘work’ conducted by PMRC is undertaken by unpaid couples and individuals. The primary focus of the PMRC is church and family renewal, with a particular emphasis on the charism of Matrimony. It is a lay empowerment movement working very much in the spirit of ‘coresponsibility’ with the clergy. In presenting this report we wish to acknowledge, thank and indeed celebrate the work of all those involved in PMRC. This is important, life-changing work. It is work that brings a practical, positive vision of human sexuality in a world that is increasingly confused and hungry for authentic love. Enjoy!

Francine & Byron Pirola


PMRC Report 2016-2017

M A R R I AGE R E SOURC E CENTRE The Marriage Resource Centre encompasses all the ‘marriage and family’ related activities of PMRC Australia. It is focused on providing state of the art relationship-focused resources and programs to the Catholic Community. The MRC focuses its work on two distinct groups: • Clergy and lay leaders involved in marriage and family formation • Couples and families who are living (or preparing to live) out their lives in the sacrament of matrimony

For couples, the MRC organises its efforts under its ‘SmartLoving’ banner ( SmartLoving includes our flagship Marriage Preparation program (SmartLoving Engage) and Marriage Enrichment Programs. (SmartLoving Marriage), along with its growing list of short courses and a wealth of free on-line resources on the topic of relationships.


For Catholic clergy, diocesan offices, parishes and marriage educators the MRC website,, provides a deep and current resource of content relevant to marriage and family life. It is a ‘professionals treasure trove’ of resources; all of which are made freely available as a service to the Church. The MRC periodically runs the ‘Renaissance of Marriage Conference’, the largest national gathering of Catholic marriage educators. We are delighted to be hosting this experience again in 2016. Please see page 12 for further details.

For families, the MRC provides CathFamily (, a free eMagazine and supporting web-based resource centre dedicated to assisting families in making the home the living heart of the Church.


Tangara School for Girls presentation, Cherrybrook NSW


SERVICES TRAINING AND WORKSHOPS MRC Trainers are available to parishes and organisations for training in our own programmes, or to run workshops on a range of topics related to relationships. Additionally, we provide regular in-service events for our own team of Marriage Educators who present the suite of SmartLoving courses.

SPEAKING EVENTS Representatives from the MRC have been active participants and guest speakers in a variety of conferences and events hosted by external organisations. These include: • Proclaim 2016 – a conference on the New Evangelisation organised on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference by the National Office for Evangelisation • Tangara School for Girls 2016 - a talk entitled Our Many Marriages presented to 500 parents • Diocese of Broken Bay Clergy Conference, 2016 • Ignite Conference 2016 - a national Catholic youth conference held in Brisbane • Australian Catholic Communication Congress 2015 • Marriage Educators In-service, Christchurch, NZ 2015 • PMRC USA National Leaders Conference 2015 • Marriage Educators Conference, Diocese of Westminster, UK 2014 – a talk entitled, Energising the Prophetic Role of Matrimony • A roundtable discussion for Catholic marriage educators with Dr Bill Doherty on the topic of strategies for supporting couples on the brink of divorce • Marriage Counselling in the Catholic Context: Opportunities & Challenges, a roundtable discussion led by Dr Gregory Popcack

PMRC Report 2016-2017

The streets of Philadelphia during the World Meeting of Families, July 2015


PHILADELPHIA, 2015 In September 2015, representatives from PMRC attended the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, USA. PMRC was one of over 200 exhibitors, showcasing the resources of SmartLoving, CathFamily and LivingWell Media to over 15,000 attendees. This was a great opportunity to promote the resources and activities of PMRC to a worldwide network of clergy, diocesan staff and lay ministers; as well as an outstanding opportunity to network with other international groups working in marriage and family ministry.

Louise Elliott briefs Bishop Michael Kennedy of Armidale Diocese

We were fortunate to share the exhibit space with PMRC USA, who promoted their Living In Love program, and were very grateful for their support and assistance in setting up and manning the exhibit space throughout the week. The official Australian Pilgrimage group of 47 was led by Bishop Michael Kennedy, Bishop Delegate for Family, and coordinators Ron and Mavis Pirola.

SmartLoving’s sister organisation based in Philadelphia, USA: Living in Love stall, run by Ron & Kathy Feher

Francine & Byron Pirola with Mavis & Ron Pirola in front of the SmartLoving stall


The SmartLoving stall

Pilgrimage group led by Bishop Kennedy, Ron & Mavis Pirola

Children’s activity table in the SmartLoving stall



WEBSITE The MRC website is host to marriage educators including clergy, the PMRC’s volunteer network, as well as those who conduct marriage education independently. It is comprised of helpful resources such as insightful articles and videos, commentary on topical Catholic issues, training materials, events, support material for local gathering events and a shop with additional resources in support of marriage and the family.

Grounded in the Theology of the Body

Designed as a support tool for Catholic marriage educators and clergy, the MRC eJournal publishes articles on marital theology, pastoral practice, and relationship research on a bimonthly basis. It currently contains in excess of 200 posts and features authors from a variety of sources. The eJournal is free and can be subscribed to at: We currently have in excess of 400 subscribers to this eJournal.

Subscribe to the eJournal

PMRC Report 2016-2017

Book into a course


Book a speaker




Fr Chuck Gallagher SJ in NJ, USA, founder of Worldwide Marriage Encounter, works with married couples to create a range of ‘Resource Programmes’ based on a nuptial ecclesiology for the empowerment of laity in parishes.

1992 LivingWell Media is established with the arrival of Christopher West (USA) to address the National Family Gathering on JPll’s Theology of the Body.


LivingWell Media launches the My School Diary series, a print diary designed to form students and their families in the faith. CathFamily is established to distribute supplementary digital resources.

2010 Celebrate Love and Embrace are rebranded, becoming the SmartLoving Series. Over the following years, additional resources are developed, including secular products.

2014 Inspired by Pope Francis, FRANKLY is created; a high-quality bookazine responding to the Holy Fathers call to joyfully proclaim the Gospel.


BreakThrough Online course, for couples in stressed marriages, is launched.

Fr Chuck establishes the Pastoral & Matrimonial Renewal Centre and continues this work with emphasis on a relational spirituality and evangelisaton at parish level, in particular through the Parish Renewal Experience and the Parishioner Empowerment Weekend. In the following years, under the direction of Ron and Mavis Pirola, some 200,000 Australians experience one or more of these programmes.

1978 The weekend marriage seminar, Celebrate Love, is launched in Australia by Byron & Francine Pirola. It is an adaptation of a U.S.A program developed by Ron & Kathy Feher and Fr Chuck. It spreads rapidly throughout the country and offshore.

2000 Building on the success of the USA program, Preparing to Live in Love for engaged couples by Ron & Kathy Feher, an Australian adaptation is developed by Byron & Francine Pirola. Embrace uses the mentoring methodology and utilises teaching DVDs.

2008 The PMRC Relationship Education Foundation is established, which holds Deductible Gift Recipient status with the Australian Taxation Office.

2012 To create a relationship education platform in the secular world, The Stick Kit, a non-religious orientated marriage education program is launched.



2015 SmartLoving Engaged is transformed into an online course so that couples can complete the program at their own pace in an online environment.

2017 13


CONFERENCE In October 2016, the Marriage Resource Centre will once again host the Renaissance of Marriage Conference. Co-sponsored by the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council (ACMFC) and the Catholic Society for Marriage Educators (CSME), this conference is set to be an unmissable opportunity for marriage educators, clergy, teachers and individuals/ couples who are passionate about marriage and family life to listen to international and local speakers. Over two days, the conference will be focussed on unpacking Amoris Laetitia. Guest speakers include Christopher West, a world renowned author and presenter on the Theology of the Body, Peter Shakhovskoy (Men Alive), Ron and Mavis Pirola, Archbishop Anthony Fisher, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, James Parker, Paul Ninnes (Real Talk), and several more. With an expected 200 delegates

attending, this conference promises to be an important and significant event for the Catholic Church in Australia. There has arguably never been a more important time for the Catholic Church to provide leadership on the topic of marriage and to help society reclaim and develop the marriage culture. The Renaissance of Marriage Conference seeks to do this by proactively promoting the Catholic vision of marriage and developing our capacity as a church to respond more effectively to the many challenges faced by our people in their married and family lives. Taking its inspiration from Amoris Laetitia, the Renaissance of Marriage Conference will explore three key areas: Youth formation, Marriage Preparation (and the first 5 years), and Marriage Enrichment/Support

Conference venue: Aerial UTS function centre

PMRC Report 2016-2017

Ron & Mavis Pirola

Christopher West

Archbishop Anthony Fisher

Jonathan & Karen Doyle


...AND MANY MORE! James Parker

Archbishop Mark Coleridge

Byron & Fran Pirola

Paul Ninnes

A renaissance refers to a re-birth, a renewal, or a rediscovery. Perhaps now more than at any time in our history we need a renaissance, a rediscovery and renewal of marriage. In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis has called on the people of God to renew our efforts in the marriage arena, boldly proclaiming our vision and extending the hand of mercy as we accompany each other in the journey towards holiness. The Renaissance of Marriage 2016 conference is a timely response and will be a unique gathering of experts across the nation united in the goal of advancing our understanding of Catholic marriage.

Bishop Michael Kennedy Amidale Diocese


I commend it to marriage educators, clergy, teachers, couples, counsellors, parents and all who engage on the topic of marriage, relationship and sexuality education.





S E R IE S SmartLoving is a suite of resources supporting couples in their relationship life-cycle. SmartLoving draws from a wealth of research, theology, and experience to provide a compelling and focused approach to building marriages. The resources offered are positive and solution-oriented, so that men and women feel encouraged and equipped to love their spouse in practical and intimate ways. Couples are provided with practical strategies for emotional, sexual and spiritual happiness. The insights provided within the SmartLoving series are formed by the teachings of John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body”, and as such, honours and celebrates the unique strengths of both men and women, allowing each partner to engage freely and confidently. SmartLoving helps participants emerge stronger, as a couple, and as individuals. The investment of time and energy generates improved relational health and greater personal fulfilment. The programs and resources of SmartLoving are designed to be accessible for Catholic couples and individuals. SmartLoving currently offers three programs, SmartLoving Engaged, SmartLoving Marriage and SmartLoving BreakThrough. These resources are supplemented by a wealth of online materials, including a member hub for couples who have completed one of the courses, providing a rich library of video content, articles, activities and educational materials.

In 2016, we were excited to launch the first of our Online series, Engaged Online. Utilising state of the art online learning platforms, the courses have an international reach, and can be accessed by participant couples anywhere, anytime.

PMRC Report 2016-2017


SmartLoving helps couples build the foundations of their relationship to make their marriage last



MARRIAGE The SmartLoving Marriage Seminar has been presented to couples for more than 25 years, both within Australia and internationally. The seminar takes participants on a twoday journey where they learn some of the most up-to-date ideas and skills on offer and, in the process, rediscover the joy of being a man and woman in love. As with all SmartLoving courses, SmartLoving Marriage draws on the wisdom of the contemporary Catholic teachings of the Theology of the Body. It provides participants with tools to embrace their gender complementarity and shows them how to approach their marriage in radical love with profound results. The seminar is hosted by a dedicated team of SmartLoving presenters, who provide personal testimonies to participants, bringing a depth of insight, honesty and “normalisation� to many of the topics covered over the weekend. Feedback from participants often highlights just how much they value these personal sharings. In 2015 and 2016, SmartLoving Marriage seminars were held in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Kuching (Malaysia) as well as six seminars in the United Kingdom.

PMRC Report 2016-2017

Teaching couples to approach their marriage with

radical love




TEAM Without a doubt, the success of this program comes down to the dedication and support of the SmartLoving marriage presenters, host couples and prayer couples, who devote many hours of valuable family time to the preparation and delivery of these seminars. The photos below show you just some of the faces of the SmartLoving presenting team. There are many more who give their time to this powerful ministry and we are very grateful for all that they give.

completed the course themselves) who pray for specific participants in the lead up to the weekend, and over the course of the seminar itself. Host couples play a particularly important role in ensuring that participants feel welcome at the seminar, and co-ordinate the provision of food and drinks to ensure a warm and friendly environment is created throughout the weekend.

In addition to the presenting couples who lead these seminars, SmartLoving Marriage is blessed with an army of prayer couples (many of whom have

“I am blown away by the incredible impact provided by a proven program. The power of the Holy Spirit is so strong and this is due to having committed Christians dedicating their time for the glory of God. Thank you!” - Karen Catherine & Edmund Adamus

Jane & Jonathan Deegan

Anne & John Keogh

Bruce & Louise Collins

Basil & Kathy Musca

Tricia & Michael Casey

Pat & Kath Gilmore

Byron & Francine Pirola

Andrew & Liz Buchanan

Peter & Meilin Augustine

Stephen Court It is with deep gratitude that we acknowledge the contribution of Stephen & Carmen Court to the work of SmartLoving in Western Australia. Stephen, father of five and devoted husband, passed away in September 2015. We recall with deep fondness Stephen’s practical and energetic approach to the apostolate and give thanks for his and Carmen’s inspirational leadership over many years. Carmen & Stephen Court

PMRC Report 2016-2017


THE MARRIED “This was the best thing that’s ever happened to our marriage.” - Luke “The seminar has given us renewed energy, understanding and commitment to our marriage. It has helped us to shift our marriage in a variety of ways, and also to focus on our faith. Thank you for helping us open our minds and hearts.”

- Karen

“Concrete examples. Inspiring stories. Brilliant witness by Presenting Couples. This weekend has given me renewed hope and a way forward for our marriage.” - Craig “Your frank, delightful example speakers were inspirational. We are closer than we have been.The ripple effect- as we spread the word it will be testament to its success.” - Alice

“I always intended for my marriage to last for a lifetime. Now I know it will - and it will be a stronger, more considerate, more loving one because of this weekend. I’m looking forward to and excited about the rest of our married life together.” - Jasmine “Our expectations have been exceeded.” - Michael

“We were nourished spiritually, physically and emotionally.”


FROM SEMINARS The impact of the seminar on attendees continues to be outstanding with all participants in 2015 experiencing a positive or very positive impact on their marriage. No participants indicated that the seminar had no impact or a negative impact on their marriage.

Impact on your marriage

Are you likely to refer a friend?





Very positive


Yes definitely


Average rating of talks (out of 10)


Couples share a meal as a part of the weekend seminar




ENGAGED The SmartLoving Engaged course remains the most widely used program of PMRC Australia. SmartLoving Engaged is a sixsession, multi-media course for couples preparing to marry in the Catholic Church. First developed in 2007, this course (along with its American sister program Preparing to Live in Love) remains arguably the best marriage preparation course in the English speaking world. Used widely across Australia, the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and several other countries, the course is offered in a variety of formats including couple-to-couple mentoring, small home-based and larger group environments and, most recently via an online learning platform. The core content for SmartLoving Engaged is presented in film, and is supported by comprehensive participant materials and most importantly, trained married couples who mentor and provide their personal witness and testimonies. Feedback from participants in the course is universally positive. Many attend marriage preparation simply “because they have to�, but after six sessions of the SmartLoving Engaged course, these same couples leave with a strong commitment to their marriage and a deeper understanding of the sacramental nature of marriage. While courses are run through the Marriage Resource Centre, the SmartLoving Engaged materials are also available for purchase by parishes and dioceses looking to implement their own marriage preparation course, and is increasingly being used in this way.

PMRC Report 2016-2017

Since 2007, more than 5000 participants have completed the Engaged course either in a group or with a mentor couple.

“Empowering, invigorating and very practical. It was fantastic, particularly the strategies for understanding each other and recognising underlying values in actions and words.� - Emma


Over the past 2 years, SmartLoving Engaged has gained interest in several international locations such Asia (Singapore and Malaysia), Sri Lanka and the USA. As a result, the print materials for the course have been translated in Mandarin, Malaysian and Spanish, and it is our goal that translation into other languages will soon follow.

SmartLoving’s mentor couples continue to be praised by participants in the course. The success of this program is largely attributable to the dedication, warmth and enthusiasm of these couples, who are wonderful examples of the Sacrament of Marriage.



THE ENGAGED “Our mentor couple was excellent for many reasons, particularly for their ability to share from their own experiences and to speak from the heart.” - Oliver

“I was apprehensive about doing the course because of negative experiences my friends had with other courses. It turned out to be everything I DIDN’T expect – extremely practical and useful – definitely worth doing.”

“This course, as well as my mentor couples have opened my mind and my heart. Thank you.” - Marika

“A really practical and comprehensive start to your marriage commitment. It enabled us to delve into deep issues and truly know each other on every level.”

- Alice

- Ben

“A must do!” - Trevor

“Excellent, enlightening and beneficial. I’ve already recommended this course to my friends.” - Heather

“We have learned some very useful tools to apply in every day life to help us make the most of our marriage.”

“What we have learnt is invaluable.” - Robert

PMRC Report 2016-2017

- Eric


OUR MENTORS To accompany engaged couples who have such a desire to prepare well is a great experience for us as mentors for the SmartLoving Engaged Course. Developing a trusting relationship with them, even via Skype, is a real joy, and then seeing the couples grow in intimacy as each session unfolds, sometimes is even a surprise to themselves.

“We get great joy from mentoring. The engaged couples are all so happy, and that rubs off on us! We also find that going through the content regularly keeps in front of us the importance of our own relationship, and reminds us of all the tips in SmartLoving Engaged that we should use to keep our marriage vibrant and passionate.”

- John & Geraldine



- Jane & Mark




Cathy & Matthew Bourke


John & Geraldine Dayball

Mike & Lisa Humphrys


Peter & Fiona Foley

Brad & Mary Prentice


Pat & Maureen Coyne


Jane & Mark Phillips



ONLINE In 2016 SmartLoving Engaged became available as a fully online course so that couples could access this invaluable programme from the comfort of their home. Without compromising SmartLoving’s unique approach to marriage preparation, Engaged Online provides the same quality course content using videos, online quizzes, vodcasts and articles, along with online access to support resources and mentors. Engaged Online is available in two tracks: Self Directed – Couples journey through the course without the direction of a mentor couple. The course is immediately available upon signing up, and couples progress at their own pace, completing quizzes along the way. At the completion of the last lesson, quiz answers are collated into a report for the celebrant.

The Engaged workbooks can be ordered online

PMRC Report 2016-2017

Mentor Accompanied - This format allows participant couples to interact with an married parish couple, using the quiz questions as a discussion template. Couples meet as often as every lesson, or according to parish policy. SmartLoving’s vision for its Engaged course is to run it as a parish-based program so that each engaged couple, especially those who may not be actively participating in their faith, gain community support and encouragement for both their relationship and faith journey from those within their parish community. Engaged Online is the ideal way to achieve this since a parish mentor couple creates a relationship with the engaged, by simply completing the course online in parallel with them.

When marriage preparation is directed by those active in their parish community, evangelisation develops organically through the authentic witness of a committed, loving married couple.




• The Priest/Deacon meets with the Engaged Couple to complete the paper work, book the church and enrol them in Engaged Online. • If you want your couple to have a mentor, arrange for the engaged couple to meet their parish mentor couple who also enrols in the course if they are doing it for the first time.



• The couple completes the course at their own pace, ideally one lesson per week. Each lesson includes tools to practice before the next one.

We’re getting married!

Let’s enrol you now!

• At the end of each lesson, the couple completes an online quiz which ensures that they have understood the key concepts and completed the activities.

Mentor Accompanied Track • Mentor and engaged complete the course lesson by lesson, meeting up to discuss the quiz questions. • Mentors can access tips and support materials from the Mentor Resource Hub.



I never thought about that...

Let’s ask our mentors.

• Couple & celebrant meet to review the Course Report and discuss what they have learned. We have some questions.

THE WEDDING & NEWLYWED YEARS... Great! Let’s talk.


• Once the couple has completed the last lesson, SmartLoving will review their participation, issue a certificate and prepare the Course Report.

The Engaged couple has access to the Engaged Member Hub where there are additional online activities and articles to support them in their first year. SmartLoving will keep in touch so that they always have additional support should they need it. Mentors provide local support throughout the newlywed years.



BREAKTHROUGH 2015 saw the launch of SmartLoving BreakThrough, a three hour workshop for couples in strained marriages. The workshop is presented by a married couple, supported with strong audiovisual resources. The focus of the workshop is to normalise marital challenges so that couples don’t feel so overwhelmed and isolated. Participants work through the insightful content, learn practical tools for conflict resolution and reflect on their personal need for granting and seeking forgiveness. Unlike other SmartLoving programs, BreakThrough does not require any couple sharing or couple activities during the workshop and in fact couples are encouraged to work separately. This allows spouses to attend on their own, or couples who are too fragile to interact productively with each other, to engage with the material for personal growth. These workshops have enjoyed significant uptake and despite the relatively short duration, are encouragingly effective. One couple who had been separated for 19 years decided after attending the workshop to move in together. They subsequently attended the SmartLoving Marriage seminar and are rebuilding their marriage.

BreakThrough is currently available in two formats: face to face workshops conducted by the SmartLoving team, or as a “teach out of the box”. This allows diocesan agencies, parishes and marriage educators around the world to access the materials and host their own events, based on the materials developed and supplied by the Marriage Resource Centre.

PMRC Report 2016-2017


Teaching couples practical strategies to forgive, love and begin again




Byron & Francine running BreakThrough in Luddenham

Bernard & Anne Ellis host BreakThrough, Luddenham

Hospitality has always been an integral part of SmartLoving events. It communicates the support of the community and helps to manage the couples’ biochemistry - hungry couples are cranky couples!

“This course has given me a structured approach to deal with conflict and move to a more positive relationship.”

PMRC Report 2016-2017

- William

“I don’t have time to read self-help books. After 15 years of marriage, I could identify with everything said today. I feel great hope going forwards.” - Sharon

“The workshop is not about resolving disputes. Rather, it helps participants understand the dynamic of their relationship and the underlying emotional needs that are driving their arguments, so that they can resolve their internal distress. Then, they are in a better space to address the relationship conflicts with confidence and clarity.”

- Francine & Byron Pirola



Motion graphics used throughout to illustrate content


Due to the success of the workshop when presented as a live event, and the recognition that this type of course is in high demand, SmartLoving sought to make BreakThrough available in an online environment so that every person in need could gain immediate access to effective, practical tools despite their circumstance or location. Here at the MRC, we have spoken to numerous people who are seeking help for their relationship but are unable to attend a live event due to time restraints, their location or simply preferring to remain anonymous. We are currently working hard on developing the video content and anticipate making Breakthrough Online available by the end of 2016. “Our experience in working with couples in stressed relationships is that their troubles are typically not that different from couples in more solid relationships; but rather the difference is that they feel helpless and hopeless.” - Francine & Byron Pirola

Actors hired to represent real life stories



2WOLVES An exciting experiment for the SmartLoving team was hosting some of the SmartLoving courses at The Two Wolves: Community Cantina, in Sydney. The Two Wolves is an initiative of The Cardoner Project, a Jesuit and Catholic youth volunteering hub that supports global partner organisations, predominantly within the Jesuit network. As a volunteer-driven social enterprise eatery & bar with function rooms for hire, it was an ideal location to host SmartLoving courses and workshops in a warm and friendly environment, all the while supporting other Catholic initiatives. The workshops offered by SmartLoving at the new venue included Fertility, Money and Conflict as well as our flagship Engaged course. These nights were the perfect way to encourage young professionals to take some time out to learn some new life skills and strategies they could implement into their every day living.

Cathy & Anthony Hill presenting the SmartLoving Engaged course

PMRC Report 2016-2017

at Cnr of Broadway & City Road



Couples would come early and have dinner at the 2Wolves restaurant before heading to the media room for their course.

The Two Wolves restaurant and bar area



IN THE UK SmartLoving has an active presence in the United Kingdom, in particular through the Diocese of Westminster. Edmund Adamus has been part of the SmartLoving network for over 10 years, and continues to support and promote the teachings, insights and resources of SmartLoving to the Catholic community in England. SmartLoving Marriage, Engaged and BreakThrough are all offered throughout the diocese.

Initial discussions regarding the establishment of SmartLoving in Ireland are underway.

PMRC Report 2016-2017


Over 250 families in the United Kingdom have been rewarded with the benefits of the SmartLoving Marriage Seminar



“SmartLoving helped us to be open to each other and inspired us to communicate more. It helped us to rediscover the spiritual quality of our marriage and sexual intimacy, and to reconcile with each other. SmartLoving helped us appreciate the importance of our marriage.”

ACTIVITIES SmartLoving Engaged: continues to enjoy wide uptake in the UK where more than 40 parishes use the course. More than 750 couples have used SmartLoving Engaged for their marriage preparation. Ealing Abbey in London has been successfully running the course since it was launched in 2007. SmartLoving Marriage: SmartLoving UK currently holds three marriage seminars a year in various locations, with the intention that the seminar will spread into other parts of the country, as and when suitable locations are found. Although most seminars are currently based in or around the Westminster Diocese, participants come to the seminar from all corners of Britain, evidence that there is a thirst for the rich insights that the SmartLoving seminar has to offer. It is the long-term aim of the SmartLoving UK team that presenting couples will develop their repertoire of talks, allowing the current team to diversify and cover more weekends, so as to offer the seminar more regularly. The challenges to entice couples to attend the seminar are fiercer than ever with more and more couples suffering from the ‘timesqueeze’ on their lives. The UK team are slowly progressing into 2017 with a re-branded version of the seminar in the hope that it will appeal to a more diverse array of Catholic couples from a British perspective.

Participants on a weekend marriage seminar

PMRC Report 2016-2017

From 2015-2016 the UK SmartLoving seminars have served participants. In 2017 the seminars will be delivered under the rebranded ‘Loving4Life’ package, as a UK derivative of the SmartLoving programmes. ( SmartLoving in Ireland is now in progress under the rebranded version, Loving4Life. Since August 2014 Jane Deegan has been working one day per week on coordination and development of the SmartLoving Marriage seminar. In 2015 one couple made a single donation of £10,000 to help further the work and increase access for more couples and more recently, the Bruderhof Community (a Christian community of families in East Sussex) generously donated £5000 towards the work.

Edmund Adamus, SmartLoving Coordinator UK

“The witness of the coupleleaders and other participants has been invaluable. We feel we have received both spiritual and practical tools which we can use and adopt in our marriage.”

“It has given us renewed energy, understanding and commitment to our marriage. It has helped us to shift out marriage focus to faith.”

“The seminar has been a true blessing to our marriage. We left the seminar invigorated, recharged and strengthened in our goals as a couple. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!”

Couples at a SmartLoving Marriage Seminar at Manor Farm House, June 2015


IN WESTMINSTER SmartLoving BreakThrough: Edmund and his team of volunteers have begun marketing and delivering the BreakThrough Workshop to parishes in the Westminster diocese. The workshop is proving to be very popular with clergy who are keen to help couples in their pastoral care and also as a pro-active response to Amoris Laetitia – the post synodal apostolic exhortation. At the time of compiling this report, 5 large parishes and an entire deanery in Westminster were scheduled to host the BreakThrough Workshop in 2016. 2017 is expected to be a bumper year for BreakThrough in the Westminster Diocese and beyond, as other diocesan marriage and family life coordinators express interest in this groundbreaking resource.

“The BreakThrough Workshop has helped me to examine my conscience, recognise my shortcomings and start making the changes necessary to be a better husband.”

“BreakThrough was heart-warming, informative and interesting. Well worth my time. It gave me the space and time I needed to think about my relationship and what I can do to improve myself.”



IN ASIA 2014 saw the introduction of SmartLoving to the Asian region, with a SmartLoving Engaged training course being held in the Malaysian Diocese of Kuching. The SmartLoving Engaged course materials have been translated into Mandarin and Malay, ready for use by the trained group of local mentors. SmartLoving returned to Malaysia in 2015 and during this visit, the SmartLoving Marriage seminar was introduced, again in the Kuching Diocese. In 2016, SmartLoving was introduced to Singapore, with a 2 day visit to facilitate a training course for Engaged mentors.

SmartLoving Engaged workbooks translated into Mandarin

PMRC Report 2016-2017

70 people trained in Malaysia to become mentors to the





IN SINGAPORE In June 2016, Byron and Francine Pirola travelled to Singapore on the invitation of the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family to run a training course for 70 couples who are training to become SmartLoving Engaged Mentors. The Singapore church plans to implement the mentoring course as a parishbased follow up to the existing marriage preparation offerings, so establishing a parish community to support couples into the newlywed years.

Today helped us to share openly and honestly with each other about our own marriage. It has also helped our understanding of marriage as a sacrament so that we can better prepare engaged couples for their marriage. - Graham

PMRC Report 2016-2017

The training day with Francine and Byron provided lots of enrichment for own marriage and we are now looking forward to enriching the relationships of young couples. - Clifford

Francine & Byron’s talks gave us the opportunity to reflect on our marriage and left us with refreshing insights on the sacrament of Matrimony and faith formation. I found the training to be very useful and am looking forward to mentoring engaged couples with what I’ve learnt. - Alexander


Francine & Byron presenting the Engaged training session to 140 mentors



ONLINE RESOURCES As the digital world gains momentum, SmartLoving is developing new resources and adapting existing ones for online distribution. The online world gives SmartLoving a reach far beyond those regions where we have team couples offering face-to-face events. It also allows us to offer more effective follow-up to participants and allows us to cross-promote resources. Among the online initiatives, the following are of note: • Online courses - the Engaged course is now available as a fully online experience. Plans are also underway to adapt the BreakThrough Workshop and the Marriage Seminar to an online format. • The SmartLoving eNews is dispatched weekly to graduates of the SmartLoving courses as well as those who sign up via the website. • Member Hubs for Engaged Couples, Mentors, Married Couples, BreakThrough Facilitators. These member hubs include videos for participants and training of presenters, as well as articles, quizzes and podcasts. • eBooks - both free and for sale. The SmartLoving eBook is available for free on sign-up to the eNews. The SmartLoving @Home series is available for purchase through the MRC shop with immediate download.

SmartLoving’s Facebook page showcases upcoming events with promotional videos as well as interesting articles to further spread the message throughout the online community.

PMRC Report 2016-2017



Resources for engaged couples


WEBSITE The SmartLoving website contains a wealth of free online resources. Articles, videos, activities and contributions from other authors are regularly published on the website through the SmartLoving blog. Regular contributors include Francine & Byron Pirola, Dr Gregory Popcak, Bernard Toutounji and Agi Reefman. Over 400 posts are available on a range of relationship topic areas, with links to a number of social media sites enhancing the reach of the content. Currently, the SmartLoving site has 1200 subscribers, which when combined with the graduates of the SmartLoving programs, results in a total reach in excess of 2500 people. Clean website layout for ease of navigation and registration


HUBS The SmartLoving website hosts a number of member hubs where those who register can access a wealth of resources available exclusively to them. Those who attend one of SmartLovings courses are given free access to the member hub for one year from the date of registration. The Engaged hub allows its members to revisit videos and content from the course, have access to additional extension activities and includes a wedding liturgy planner. The Marriage hub provides 70+ gathering notes for couples to host small groups in their area as well as articles and resources specifically for the married. Resources for Engaged Mentors

PMRC Report 2016-2017


AT HOME In addition to the blog posts, a series of downloadable resources, titled “SmartLoving at Home” are available for purchase on the SmartLoving website. Comprised of an interactive PDF that can be comfortably read on a computer screen or tablet, these stand alone topics are perfect for couple gatherings or individual use. Each edition includes input on the topic, several individual reflections, a couple reflection exercise, scripture reflection and suggested prayer.

Grateful teaches couples to put gratitude into action

TOPICS 1. The Ambitious Couple - Helps couples develop greater ambition for their marital intimacy. 2. Hear Me, Know Me - Examines the art of listening.


3. Sexuality as Gift – Embracing our gender differences. 4. Responsible Honesty – Explores honesty and the effects of diverse forms of infidelity in a marriage. 5. Grateful – Shows the power of gratitude when used in a marriage.

A selection of topics available

Sexuality as Gift teaches couples about the sacred nature of their sexuality and their sexual differences



IN THE MEDIA Francine & Byron Pirola are developing a broad ‘SmartLoving’ presence in Catholic and Christian media. They have a fortnightly column in the Catholic Record and a regular ‘SmartLoving’ spot in ‘The Journey’ radio program which is now syndicated to over 100 stations nationwide. Byron and Francine have engaged with the general media including Christian radio on the topic of marriage and relationships, and are happily available for comment.

PMRC Report 2016-2017


Promoting good relationships for the benefit of couples and the wider community



IN THE CATHOLIC LEADER Since 2013, SmartLoving has been publishing articles written by Byron and Francine Pirola in The Catholic Leader, a weekly publication of the Archdiocese of Brisbane. Over 50 articles have been published, on a range of topics including the importance of marriage education, taming wedding stress, tips for trusting love, and ways to put your spouse first. This has been an extremely effective method for extending the reach and impact of the SmartLoving

A selection of SmartLoving articles pulished by Brisbane’s Catholic Leader

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insights, and has resulted in considerable activity in the Brisbane Diocese for other SmartLoving initiatives, such as SmartLoving Marriage and SmartLoving Engaged. We continually look for opportunities with other Catholic publications to establish a regular syndicated column, based on the model used with The Catholic Leader.


ON AIR Distribution of the SmartLoving insights is not limited to print media. Since 2014, SmartLoving has been contributing a weekly two minute podcast to The Journey Catholic radio podcast. The Journey is a weekly program developed by the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong, and is aired on a growing number of Christian Radio Stations around Australia.


The Journey contains regular interviews highlighting the good things being done in the Church and its agencies, with regular contributors including Sr Hilda Scott (a Benedictine Nun), Robert Falzon (Founder of the Men Alive Movement), Bruce Downes, (The Catholic Guy) and Trish McCarthy (a Catholic faith educator).

The Journey radio show, airing weekly on a Wollongong local radio station.



EMAGAZINE CathFamily is an eMagazine and website dedicated to assisting families in making the home the living heart of the Church. As a church, we have benefited over the centuries from simple home-based rituals to provide practical faith experiences for our children. This site aims to provide innovative and contemporary resources to continue this tradition—by collecting both traditional and contemporary rituals that Catholic families can adapt into their own family rituals. With an excess of 250 graphically rich articles, CathFamily enjoys significant popularity through its monthly eMagazine. This, combined with an active presence on social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest, is resulting in a steady expansion of the reach of CathFamily.

PMRC Report 2016-2017


Making the home the heart of the Church


Free interactive resource supporting everyday Catholics


MOBILE ONLINE Visually rich

Expert opinion on thoughtprovoking topics

Used by teachers for program inspiration


SUBSCRIBERS 1600+ 3000+

Direct subscribers Australian Schools and parishes

PMRC Report 2016-2017

With direct subscribers from all around the globe:


Until I read the article I have been in pain. It has been 23 years. I didn’t know it was okay to feel this way.

The world tells you I should have been happy, relieved. But, it took my very definition of myself away and has caused me disconnect with my five grandsons.


Thank you for your magazine. I just stumbled upon it looking for articles on Our Lady of Guadalupe, and I received a whole lot more. This article, about surprise babies, the test in reverse for those who cannot conceive, has opened me completely. I had an emergency surgery after my 4th child that took away any chance of bearing children.

Maybe now, I can properly grieve and know I have felt normal all this time. Maybe now I can name this and move on. Maybe now I can rejoice in my current state of life and leave the control to God.

- Laurie R


PMRC Report 2016-2017



Our existing SmartLoving courses, while built around Catholic Sacramental teaching, also include the best from the relationship sciences and are distinctive in that they provide a raft of practical relationship tools and skills for couples to live a successful marriage; skills that are applicable to all couples regardless of their faith traditions. With a view to pre-evangelisation, we have leveraged these learnings into a non-Catholic, nonreligious orientated marriage education platform, known as The Stick Kit, which was launched in September 2014.



THE STICK KIT The Stick Kit is an online relationship education platform that has been developed to provide a new and innovative means of delivering relationship education resources to the Australian community. While relationship counselling services are well resourced, there are limited relationship education services available to the Australian community. As such, The Stick Kit aims to significantly increase the scope of relationship education services available to Australian couples.

PMRC Report 2016-2017



PMRC Australia has been dealing with marriage education for more than 30 years and observes that the means of content delivery has not changed significantly over this period. The need for group courses is often dictated by efficiency, with the economics of running a couples course for a single couple impractical given most courses typically run for one to two days. Of course this typically provides one of the greatest challenges to couples in undertaking such courses; finding one or two days where they are both free and can dedicate that amount of time to this one purpose. It’s not a practical option for many busy families. The convergence of the collapsing cost of video production, combined with high-speed wireless connectivity, is transforming educative processes at all levels. This is particularly the case in ‘adult’ education and there are numerous technologically-driven models emerging in the university, professional development and other sectors; as well adaptation of traditional teaching processes to leverage these new capabilities. There has, however, been limited adoption of technology in the area of relationship education in Australia generally, and even less in the area of couple relationship education; despite the potential it offers.

PMRC Australia has been successfully exploring the use of digital technology in marriage and pre-marriage education for more than eight years and has firsthand experience of its potential. We believe that a fully online offering has the following distinct advantages: • Couples can access online courses anywhere,

any time, on their timetable. This flexibility also means couples in remote communities can be equally well serviced with educational content as those in capital cities; something practically impossible with traditional services.

• The course content delivered through video

can actually be more impactful when its full production values (imagery, audio, spoken words) are leveraged, compared to sitting in the room with the same presenter.

• It easily provides a high level of content

quality control, which is difficult to manage through a large team of educators; with online delivery, the same material is being taught in every situation, in the same manner, every time.

• Programs can be rolled out on a national


Most of the current forms of relationship education involve face-to-face workshops in groups which provide structured input followed by facilitated couple activities to privately explore and appropriate the content into their own relationship. It is a facilitated learning process where a large part of the learning is ‘selfmanaged’ by the participants.

(or global) basis, instantly. Modifications, including updates and extensions can be made easily and armies of educators do not need to be trained and retrained.

• Couple participation levels can still be monitored, albeit through different means, with similar effectiveness as in the face-to-face teaching environments.



‘THE STICK KIT’? Every time we mention The Stick Kit for the first time we get a puzzled look and then the question “Why the Stick Kit?”. It’s a good question. After 30+ years of personally working in the marriage education field no one knows better than we that the most significant challenge facing marriage education and formation is to sell the actual idea of relationship education to couples; that is, making couples aware that these services are both available and helpful. Developing a good course, training skilled presenters, and finding venues are therefore not difficult tasks relative to convincing couples that relationship education is valuable. Simply trying to differentiate relationship education from counselling is a challenge; one only has to look to the media coverage of the Stronger Relationships Trial to see this. Therefore, when embarking on this project, it was clear that creating a ‘brand presence’ around the idea of relationship education would be the greatest challenge. Doing this online also required the use of a fresh and innovative brand/style. In addition, all of the programs of The Stick Kit are aimed at a ‘secular’ audience, so we needed to clearly differentiate this initiative from the historic work of our organisation, which has been focussed on providing services to the Catholic community (which has a long tradition of marriage education services).

PMRC Report 2016-2017

“The Marriage Kit is just fantastic! Really enjoyed hearing about how my husband likes to be loved! After 10 years you’d think I’d know. We’re getting so much out of it. My husband tells me, he thinks about his daily appreciation about me during the day. And I know it has made me more intentional about how I treat my husband and how I want him to love me.” - Kelly

“I am so glad we had access to the Making Families Happy course, it has helped us realized the strengths in our relationship with the kids and given us practical things we can do to work on areas we avoid addressing with the kids.” - Krystal

Simple, practical and valuable Helping to enrich the lives of Australian couples in a friendly, supportive and stress-free environment SEE OUR COURSES

With the assistance of professional marketing advice, a branding strategy was developed for the online platform, built around the brand name ‘The Stick Kit – the essential toolkit for life’. The branding strategy is a play on two ideas: • Firstly ‘to stick’; that the aim of relationship education is to help people ‘stick together’ and sometimes ‘stick it out’ in the hard times. • Secondly, the idea of a ‘kit’ or ‘tool kit’. The aim of the courses available through The Stick Kit is to equip couples with the tools they need to have a successful relationship. Hence the tag line ‘the essential toolkit for life’ was created. The best relationship education courses provide practical ‘tools’ and strategies for couples to use and adapt into their daily interactions, not just conceptual information.

• The notion of a ‘tool kit’ also brings a ‘malefriendly’ flavour to the courses. Men resonate with the idea that the right tool can be helpful in the right situation. Equally, while most men are far less interested in relationship education compared to women, this is an area where obviously both parties need to be engaged to create maximum impact. Hence the brand identity has an underlying strategy to make couple/marriage education be more gender balanced and less about “changing men for the sake of women” (or more cynically “husband obedience school”, as it is often referred to by men).


The Stick Kit’s user-friendly website


ADVANTAGES Flexibility


Quality Control

Global Possibilities

Participation Monitoring



WORK IN PRACTICE? Participating in a course provided by The Stick Kit is intended to be easy. Couples simply enrol online, paying via normal online payments systems. Couples then access the course together on whatever online platform they desire; typically a PC or a tablet (although they are fully accessible on all mobile devices including smart-phones). Each course is made up a number of modules and within each module a number of units. Each module typically takes two or more hours to complete. Each module and the units within them

“A fantastic idea for couples who want to improve their marriage relationship. The fact that the course is self-paced and you can do it around your other commitments is brilliant. Informative, practical, fun.” - Stephen

PMRC Report 2016-2017

usually commence with video-based educative input followed by activities for the couples to complete, which explore the relational insights raised in that module/unit. Course activities use a wide range of techniques to engage couples in the learning process (personal journalling, inventories, guided discussion, openended discussion questions, activities to try, etc.), each used as most appropriate to the topic and often in combination.

“My husband and I just finished the Marriage Kit and we HIGHLY rate this course. We both got so much out of it. My husband tells me he thinks about his daily appreciation for me during the day, and I know it has made me more intentional about how I treat my husband and how I want him to love me.” - Emily

“Thanks for providing the Making Families Happy course! It’s given us the confidence and tools to be better parents. Thanks for helping us to think about our actions and words, and what we can do to help our child’s confidence and well-being. Amazing!”


- Andrew & Karis

“Even though our relationship is great, we found that The Marriage Kit required us to reflect and communicate on a much deeper level about our life together. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to express these thoughts to one another. It ensures that after seven years of marriage, we are getting back on the same page. The course is going to strengthen our relationship for the year ahead!” - Simon

The Marriage Kit online course. Clear layout, simple steps and easy access


Start your free trial now! Want to try the Parenting Program? Register for your free trial and access the first module free. FREE TRIAL


TARGETING? The Stick Kit is in early stages of development. Courses currently available on The Stick Kit have been developed for married couples, or couples in a committed ‘marriage-like’ relationship. There is no presumption about religious or other beliefs, and courses are relevant to couples of all ages and life stages. The primary focus of courses on The Stick Kit is providing practical insights into the key relational issues facing men and women in a committed relationship and the typical challenges they face.

In the parenting course Justin is always so informative and helpful with practical advice. I love that the information was visual and broken down into smaller pieces. It makes it easier to focus on what you need to improve on as parents. Thank you for this Justin, I can’t wait to watch the rest.

The Stick Kit and its courses do not target couples in a dysfunctional relational crisis, which is the realm of counselling, nor do they deal with all issues couples may face.

“You gotta give The Marriage Kit Express a go – as a guy I felt really empowered, instead of put down by the information and tips in the Marriage Kit Express. I now know there is so much I can do to make sure our relationship is the best it can be.”

- Brooke & Jack

- Marcus

PMRC Report 2016-2017


ON THE STICK KIT? • The Marriage Kit: a general course for married couples or couples in a ‘marriagelike relationship’ seeking to enhance their relational skills. • The Marriage Kit Express: a shortened version of The Marriage Kit, this course provides participants with a selection of high impact videos and activities designed to strengthen their communication and improve their relational skills. • The Making Families Happy Parenting Program: A couple relationship program integrated with parenting relationship education. This recognises that many couples who would otherwise not consider undertaking a couple relationship course together, will participate in that very same content as part of a course aimed at improving their parenting skills. This provides a particularly effective mechanism to introduce couples to the notion of couple relationship education.

The Marriage Kit: five modules presented by Byron & Francine Pirola

Making Families Happy presented by Dr Justin Coulson


The Stick Kit was launched in September 2014 with three courses:

A fourth course, The Engaged Kit, is under development and as the name suggests, will be targeting engaged and dating couples. It is our long-term vision to have a variety of relationship experts contribute courses to the Stick Kit Platform, in order to make it the ‘go-to’ place for relationship advice.


PMRC Report 2016-2017

A N TI OC H Antioch is a parish-based youth movement that is celebrating its 35th year in Australia. It was introduced into Australia by three teenagers, Byron, Teresa and Claire Pirola, in 1981 and grew rapidly in its first decade, reaching thousands of teenagers and young adults across Australia and internationally. Today, it continues to touch the lives of young people. By providing a bridge between school and parish it gives them a lasting connection and an experience of belonging to the Church


While it is a youth-to-youth ministry, it also involves married couples in a mentoring and supportive role.

Ron & Mavis Pirola, National Coordinators


Antioch pilgrims in Rome on the way to World Youth Day Krakow 2016, prior to Mass at the tomb of St Peter in the crypt of the Basilica


MISSION Antioch is for young people of high school age (equivalent to years 10, 11 and 12) and early postschool. It aims to give young adults an experience of the profound love of Jesus and discipleship through a parish-based Christian community. Introduction to the community is through a weekend retreat led by young people who take their peers on a spiritual journey of Call, Conversion and Commitment through the talks, small group sharing, music, prayer and the sacraments.

“Antioch changed my life and renewed my Faith in Christ. Throughout my time in Antioch, I’ve witnessed conversions, experienced the beauty of communal prayer, built Christ centred friendships and participated in church ministry. I’m so proud to be Catholic.” – Emilie

There is a strong follow-up with continued formation through weekly meetings (usually on a Sunday night) which are modelled on the weekend with a short talk, small group sharing and communal prayer. All Antioch activities are led by youth with the support of a parent couple or adult support who workshop talks, organise the logistics of a weekend and marshal the parish support. Antioch weekends are typically held in parish school classrooms PMRC Report 2016-2017


OUTREACH Antioch’s primary outreach involves youth-toyouth ministry – inviting peers to experience Christian community within the parish. Further afield, from Australia, Antioch has been introduced into other countries, notably, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, The Philippines, New Zealand and Hungary. Antiochers from Papua New Guinea at World Youth Day, Sydney


AND ANTIOCH ‘One for Others, the Antioch way to Krakow’. A group of 44 made a pilgrimage through Rome, Orvieto, Assisi, Budapest and Wadowice. They also had the intense experiences of a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau and to the famous shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. This was the eleventh World Youth Day in which Antioch has participated. Antioch was the first Australian organization to send a pilgrimage group to a World Youth Day in Szestochowa in 1991. Since then it has sent a pilgrimage group with a distinct Antioch flavour to every WYD – Denver (1992), Manila (1995), Paris (1997), Rome (2000), Toronto (2002), Cologne (2005), Sydney (2008), Madrid (2011), Rio de Janeiro (2013) and Krakow (2016).

Blessed to be accompanied by three MSC chaplains: Frs Peter Hearn, Tru Nguyen & Alfin Buarlele

The Journal

Antiochers in Budapest


Final night of the pilgrimage in Budapest


DAYS IN THE DIOCESE In Budapest, Australian Antiochers had a cultural immersion over three days, hosted by Hungarian Antiochers and their families. Highlights included a combined prayer meeting on arrival, hospitality in Hungarian homes, a boat journey on the Danube to historic Visegrád Castle, a celebratory meeting with the Szentedre Parish community and a final Mass and gathering. “Being surrounded by thousands of people from around the world who shared the same faith as me was an unforgettable, heartwarming experience. This journey helped me to connect and build relationships with my Catholic community and with God.” - James

Combined Hungarian & Australian prayer meeting

PMRC Report 2016-2017

Host Leaders, Flora & András in Heroes Square, Budapest

Bishop János Székely celebrates mass


KRAKOW The spiritual climax of the WYD2016 pilgrimage began with a visit to the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Europe’s largest Marian shrine and of great significance to the Polish people. After days of catecheses and liturgies, the week concluded with some one and a half million people in prayer led by Pope Francis - at an overnight vigil under the stars and a concluding Papal Mass the next morning.

- Olivia

Fr. Alfin Buarlele leading the group in prayer before the Vigil


Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa

“Going on a pilgrimage with Antioch was absolutely life-changing. Contrary to popular thought, the youth of the world are incredibly strong and united in this Catholic faith. The Holy Spirit’s energy was palpable in Krakow, the city of Mercy, where 1.5 million gathered for one reason- for God.”

On the way to Campus Misericordiae – site of the WYD Krakow Vigil and concluding Papal Mass


PMRC Report 2016-2017

LivingWell Media is a digital and print publishing ministry for the Catholic community. It supplies Catholic schools, parishes and bookstores nationally. It is owned by the PMRC Trust, with any profits being directed towards the activities of the PMRC. LivingWell Media was conceived as a print media distributor in 2007 for the National Family Gathering in Sydney. At that conference it also produced digital recordings of the presentations; including that of the keynote speaker, Christopher West. Its focus became the licensed local production and distribution of Christopher’s audio and DVD resources in Australia which until that time were only available from the US with a long delivery time and high delivery costs.

Today, LivingWell Media continues to make an important contribution to the Australian Catholic community delivering state-of-the-art content to Australian schools and parishes.


Supporting Christopher’s focus on making the ‘new’ Theology of the Body was considered an important contribution to the Australian Catholic community and large volumes of materials were distributed across the country.


Providing more than 110,000 students every year with school diaries filled with Catholic content MY SCHOOL DIARY

SERIES In 2008 the concept of ‘My School Diary’ was created. We realised that there was no Catholic student diary available to the Catholic primary school system and this represented a unique opportunity to evangelise, not only to students within Catholic primary schools, but to their parents in particular. As parents ourselves we realised that thousands of nonpracticing Catholic parents were interacting with their child’s student diary on a daily or weekly basis. Hence, the potential for replacing secular diaries with a Catholic version was identified as a means to bring the message of the Gospel into the homes of Catholic families, otherwise known as the domestic church, on a daily basis, and from this the My School Diary Series began. In 2009, the series was extended to include My Reading Record, in which students in Years K-2 can record their reading activities. This resource is filled with stories of emotional literacy and God’s grace. Quirky cartoon characters bring the stories to life and provide a framework for parents to talk to their children about their feelings and events of the day, and pray simple prayers with them.

PMRC Report 2016-2017




TO THE SERIES In 2012, having received far too many requests from teachers who wanted their own diary, we created My Teacher Diary. This resource fully complements the student diary, but more importantly, contains pages of faith formation materials for teachers, in a digestible and accessible format.

Nurturing the faith in schools, at home and in the parish.



My School Diary cover designs through the years. (From left to right: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017)

PMRC Report 2016-2017

2017 editions of the My Teacher Diary & My Reading Record


THE DIARY Collaborating with teaching professionals, LivingWell Media continues to update the content year-to-year ensuring it remains relevant and inspirational. Yearly cover designs are also a key component in making the diary appealing to children and where possible, reflect current Church themes. (E.g. 2017 - Care of Our Common Home diary design is based on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’ pictured right).

Faith formation through Sunday readings and activities

Large space for weekly homework

Due date zone & check boxes


Place for spelling, projects & planning

Parent-Teacher communication

Daily reading record


Every December and January, a team of hard-working school and university students dispatch these diaries over a period of two or more weeks, in order to ensure our customers have their diaries ready for the start of the school year.



Since its modest beginnings in 2008, the My School Diary Series has grown to become LivingWell Media’s flagship product, supplying


over Catholic primary school students and teachers every year in all dioceses across Australia.



2008 Used by more than 925+ schools

Serving more than 320,000 students




31,000 700,000 books in use

PMRC Report 2016-2017



110,000 2016


AND THEIR FEEDBACK Feedback and testimonials on this series of resources has been overwhelming. Perhaps our favourite story of all time is this one...

MY SCHOOOL DIARY “Parents love the faith connection that the diary gives between school and home. Our Year 6 students use the weekly Sunday readings at assembly each Monday.”

As a mum, I wanted to teach my kids about their faith, but didn’t quite know where to start. I didn’t know how to pray with them. When I saw the weekly prayer in My School Diary, I decided to use this as a way of starting a bed-time prayer ritual. Eventually, my son grew up and moved on from primary, and the diary didn’t come home any more. One night when he went to go to bed he asked me if we could get out an old copy of his My School Diary and say the prayer together, as he really missed doing that with me. Thank you for helping us establish this powerful ritual in our home.

“The best upper school diary I have used in eight years of teaching.” “A clear concise diary for a Catholic School. The students especially like doing the activities. The student and parent pages are terrific.”

“We’ve been using the custom design now for a number of years and have always been very happy with the support and care taken to make the end product just right!” “Great tool for parent communication. Parents have given feedback to me and it has all been positive.”

MY TEACHER DIARY “I really enjoy reading the stories with my son, and exploring the different virtues with him.” “Children are keen to read with the Reading Record. They also love the stickers!”

“This is the first year we have used the Reading Records and have had many favourable comments from parents and students. Has provided a huge incentive with reading...particularly the stickers. I love the RE aspect.”

“The supplementary resources are extremely helpful for my professional development.” “I am at a new school that do not yet use the student diary. But when I showed them My Teacher Diary they jumped at it. The nonCatholic teachers find it an excellent support for planning (liturgy) and prayer in the classroom.” “Teachers like this diary because of the easy layout, the adequate space and its weekly faith content.”



“Our entire teaching staff requested these diaries last year as we had trialed them the previous year. They contain excellent resource knowledge for current R.E. topics as well as plenty of areas to record staff meeting notes, planning material and recording of student progress.”



“I was so touched when one student came to me and asked me for more keychains for her siblings. I told her of course she could provided she uses them, to which she responded with an excited ‘Yes! I use mine every night’.” - Jill, Catechist


KEYCHAIN KIT The Rosary Keychain is a very simple, but powerful craft activity that is integrated with a catechesis on the Rosary, and uses several sensory mediums to engage students. It is particularly popular as an activity in state school catechetics, and every year hundreds of classrooms are filled with students making their own set of brightly coloured rosary beads and learning the prayers of the Rosary. “The kids have been wanting to pray the rosary after dinner or during family prayer time which was really surprising to us. We’re absolutely delighted that this prayer has enlivened our family prayer time.” - Luke & Vanessa, Parents

Special prices are offered for the Rosary Keychain class kit during the month of May and October so as to encourage devotion to Our Lady especially in these key times in the liturgical year. Sales peak within these two months due to effective marketing strategies and email campaigns.

PMRC Report 2016-2017

Since this resource was launched in 2012, more than 13,000 children have been blessed with the gift of making their own Rosary Keychain and more importantly are praying the Rosary prayers.

“The kids were so excited by the Rosary Keychain. They loved its bright colours and saw it as a fun activity. It was such a beautiful and effective way of presenting the rosary to children. It reminded them that they have a heavenly mother and father they can turn to and talk to. Ironically, the boys who normally play up in my class were the most engaged and surprisingly, really well behaved!”

Erica Schuman, Catechist



OF SELF A print and DVD resource on Fertility Awareness, the Total Gift of Self Series presents a natural fertility method and is a valuable complement to traditional natural fertility instruction. Drawing on the insights of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, the purpose and meaning of sexual love is explained together with an overview of fertility and a discussion of issues such as responsible parenthood and infertility.




This resource is in its third printing with copies being sold across Australia and in countries including the US, UK and NZ.




BOOKAZINE FRANKLY is a high-quality bookazine which celebrates Catholic faith and culture and was first published in 2015. FRANKLY is an exciting initiative inspired by Pope Francis who calls for a joyful proclamation of the Gospel. It uses first-person testimonies, humour, conversational language, and contemporary graphic design to appeal to Australian Catholics. FRANKLY has been used as an evangelisation tool by parishes to help the Catholic families within their communities. For those Catholics who only attend Mass on major feast days or events, FRANKLY has successfully extended the exposure of the Church’s message beyond the Christmas Mass and also affirms and supports all Catholics in their efforts to bring the light of the Gospel into their daily lives.

First edition of FRANKLY

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Our launch edition focussed on the topic of mercy which helped to raise awareness and understanding of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Our second and newest edition will include a range of relevant and engaging topics. This years FRANKLY is the ‘Happiness’ edition, featuring the faith stories of celebritites like Fr. Rob Galea and NRL star Matt King as well as families seeking happiness and a section on Catholics and their history with alcohol (including some fantastic recipes).

FRANKLY: The Happiness edition

“It was a pleasure reading the snippets of beautiful writings in FRANKLY. They are so inspiring and full of serene and positive thoughts that celebrate life. The short and sweet approach leaves an impact on the reader and makes one think about what was written.” - Charles


FEEDBACK The feedback from FRANKLY was unexpectedly moving. We were humbled by stories from those who had read through cover to cover and many who felt compelled to delve a little deeper into the traditions of their Catholic faith.

Good one guys!

“The language and look of the magazine kept me reading. The articles were well written and based the message of Jesus in today’s language and situations.” - Jo “I thoroughly enjoed reading every article in your book. A big thank you! But - I will not pass it on. It’s too good to leave my home.” - Angeline & David

“I love the way you could pick up FRANKLY, read a short article and be reflective in a busy moment. I also got my children to read out a page each night before dinner during advent. It has given us some great talking points during dinner and expanding on faith.” - Rebecca

“As I flipped through FRANKLY I was blown away by the design and the content.” - Catherine

Louise Elliot presenting Frankly to a cardboard cut-out of Pope Francis

Congratulations on the production of “FRANKLY” – what a polished and attractive product. I shall be ordering copies and also recommending it to our Diocesan Agencies. You have a great gift for selling the message in a delicious way for consumers. Strength to your arm!


“Nice to read something meaningful, balanced, clever, intelligent and with humour. Has something for everyone, a good read. Makes being Catholic look like fun!” - Claire

- Bishop Peter Ingham, Diocese of Wollongong

“Attractive, timely, informative, interesting.” - Peter



THE JUBILEE YEAR After the great success of FRANKLY, and aspirations for CathFamily to extend into print, a new print booklet series had begun, with Mercy being it’s first edition. Like all of LivingWell Media’s publications, the magazine-style booklets are produced with high quality materials, articles and inspiring content. Since Pope Francis announced a Year of Mercy for 2016, Mercy delves deeper into the power of forgiveness and the sacrament of reconciliation as one of the great treasures of our Church. It considers ways in which individuals can put mercy into action, includes testimonies from clergy and practical tips on prayer. It invites Catholics to reconnect with the sacrament of Reconciliation with its inclusion of a step-by-step guide on how to make an examination of conscience, and can be used in both parishes and schools. It can also be used by parents with children preparing for their first confession.

Internal pages from Mercy

PMRC Report 2016-2017


THE JOY OF LOVE Amor: The Joy of Love is the second booklet in the CathFamily print series and is based on reflections of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Like Mercy, it is a visually rich resource designed for parishes and schools and helps to unpack the 256 page document.


It includes heart-warming stories from real life individuals and uncovers the complexities of family life and relationships. Amor features excerpts from Amoris Laetitia using beautiful imagery providing an opportunity to reflect on Pope Francis’ propositions.

Internal pages from Amor



PRODUCTION Since 2008, LivingWell Media has invested heavily to extend its digital design and video production capabilities. LivingWell Media is currently responsible for the desktop publishing and video production activities associated with the activities of the Marriage Resource Centre, including the filming and post-production of the SmartLoving video series, the secular online relationship education courses for The Stick Kit, website designs, provision of marketing materials and generation of all print materials.

Francine & Byron in a promotional video for Engaged

Actors were hired for the making of BreakThrough Online

Working on set (shots above)

PMRC Report 2016-2017

Francine & Byron on set for the BreakThrough Online course


SERVICES A small but important area of activity for LivingWell Media is the provision of contract services to other Catholic organisations. These services are viewed not so much as a revenue opportunity, but more importantly, as an opportunity for PMRC to support the broader Church and its endeavours.

in the dioceses. The colours and imagery in the books, together with the written content and activities, bring a real sense of faith and vitality to the sacrament preparation for these children and their families.

In recent years, our designers have worked with the Diocese of Broken Bay to provide the desktop publishing for a Sacrament Preparation program, including Infant Baptism, Child Baptism, Reconciliation, First Eucharist and Confirmation. These workbooks are in use by thousands of children

Flyers for the promotion of prayer and fasting for the month of October for the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council

Our parish used these resources for our daughter’s sacrament preparation. The children were so engaged by them, and as a leader, it made teaching the content both enjoyable and rewarding.

Sacrament preparation programs designed for the Diocese of Broken Bay


Saint Valentine’s Day Kit produced annually for the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life

LivingWell Media also periodically provides design and operational services to the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council, the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life, and other Catholic organisations. These services are provided on a cost-recovery basis which is both sustainable and synergistic for all involved.

- Mark



THE TEAM Today LivingWell Media generates almost $1m p.a. in revenue and employs a team of ten from our Zetland offices. LivingWell Media is more than just “a job� for us; we are all committed to the vision of the organisation and the broader activities of PMRC, and we ourselves benefit greatly from the faith formation activities that surround us on a daily basis. We provide a faith-based environment for school-based work-experience students, and university students, many who continue to work with us on a part-time basis for several years.

Byron & Francine Pirola Directors

Marilyn Rodrigues Frankly Editor

Kiara Pirola Designer & Author

PMRC Report 2016-2017

Louise Elliott Executive Manager

Emma Scarf Events Coordinator

Brian Luu Junior Designer

Sarann Ryan Design Manager

Isabella Garcia Junior Designer

Lily Zdilar Office Manager

Jessica Lubgans Designer

Jessica Day Administration Assistant


The LivingWell Media office, Zetland, NSW

Cartoons of the LivingWell Media team members, sketched up for the DVD components of PMRC’s marriage education courses.


PMRC Report 2016-2017

REL AT I O N SHIP E DU C AT I O N FO U N DAT I O N In 2010, the PMRC Relationship Education Foundation was established. The purpose of this Foundation is to provide funding to the activities of PMRC Australia and other organisations and individuals who provide marriage education services to the wider community. The Foundation has Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status with the Australian Taxation Office, with all donations over $2 being tax deductible. Since its inception, total funds donated to the Foundation are in excess of $1,100,000 from more than 150 individual donors.



DONATIONS While the Foundation is blessed to have a handful of donors who contribute significant funds to the cause, most of the donations received are from individuals and couples who have attended our events and want to contribute in some way to the impact of the PMRC’s activities. Most couples see it as a way of saying “thank you” for the opportunity and the blessings they personally received when participating in one of our programs and are delighted to have a way in which they can give back to the organisation.

PMRC Report 2016-2017


FUNDED Recent projects supported by the Foundation include: • SmartLoving Engaged Online - Course development: funding to facilitate the development of the website for hosting course content, transfer of the course to the online environment and the addition of further digital elements to the course • Real Talk Australia: funding to Real Talk Australia to support their work in the area of proximate marriage education and life choices • SmartLoving Engaged Course Production: funding for video filming and production costs associated with a second edition of the SmartLoving Engaged program • SmartLoving Website development: development of a website for the consumer market, containing a full suite of resources, including blog articles, resources for sale, and registration for courses and events • The Stick Kit course and platform development: Seed funding for the complete development of a secular relationship education program (platform delivery, course development and marketing planning and initial launch It is anticipated that the Foundation will provide a significant level of funding for the 2016 Renaissance of Marriage conference, in order to make this event accessible to as many individuals interested in the marriage education field as possible.

Paul Ninnes presenting to a group of school students

“Real Talk provides talks on sex and relationships to high school students. The grant we received from the PMRC Foundation has greatly helped Real Talk to present at events and travel to communities that would otherwise have difficulties covering the travel expenses incurred by Real Talk. These include regional trips to the northern territory as well a variety of youth events.” Paul Ninnes, Director



STATEMENTS All costs associated with the operations of the PMRC Relationship Education Foundation are provided free of charge by those who generously contribute their time or professional services. This allows every dollar donated to the Foundation to be directed to the work of the Foundation and not its administration. During the 2015/16 financial year, the Foundation received donations totalling $228,805. Total donations received from the Foundation since its establishment in 2010 are in excess of $1,100,000, as at 30 June, 2016. The total value of grants made by the Foundation for the 12 months ending 30 June, 2016 was $64,470; with funding being provided to enable the SmartLoving Engaged Online course development, and to Real Talk Australia. The Foundation finished the 12 months ending 30 June, 2016 in a sound financial position with a cash balance of $191,570.

INCOME STATEMENT 1 Jul 2015 – 30 Jun 2016

Since inception 1 Jul 2010 – 30 Jun 2016



Total Income



Grant Payments





Donations Received

Net Income

BALANCE SHEET At 30 Jun 2016 Cash on deposit






Net Assets



RELATIONSHIP EDUCATION FOUNDATION Your contribution will provide funding to organisations that promote marriage and relationship education to the wider community.


The financial accounts for both the PMRC Relationship Education Foundation, and PMRC (Australia) Incorporated, are independently audited at its 30 June balance date.

PMRC Report 2016-2017


COMMITTEE The PMRC Relationship Education Foundation is governed by a Management Committee which meets regularly to review the status of existing grants, preside over grant applications, and to monitor the regulatory and financial compliance of the Foundation. Current committee members are Mr Bradley Prentice (Chair), Mr Ray O’Brien and Dr Byron Pirola.

Bradley Prentice Age 55 Brad is a Senior Assistant State Solicitor with the Western Australian State Solicitor’s Office. Brad was admitted to practice in NSW in 1984 and in Western Australia in 1988. Brad is a board Member of Southern Cross Care WA a not for profit Aged and Community Care provider and Chairman of the KSC Charitable Foundation Inc. Brad is a part time lecturer at the University of Western Australia Law School. Brad is married to Mary and has five children. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws from the University of New South Wales and Master of Laws from the University of Western Australia. Brad is a Chartered Tax Adviser and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD).

Ray O’Brien, Age 55

Byron Pirola, Age 55

Ray is currently General Manager – Distribution at Beyond Bank Australia Limited, responsible for all Beyond Bank delivery channels, integration of back office member support services and business development. Beyond Bank is one of the largest mutually owned financial institutions in Australia. Prior to that he held the position of Chief Executive Officer of Hunter Valley based Companion Credit Union from 1996 to 2010.

Byron is a Director and Managing Partner of Port Jackson Partners Limited, the leading Australian strategy advisory firm where he has been a Partner since its foundation in 1991. He started his consulting career with McKinsey and Company in 1986 where he served clients in Sydney, New York and London. Byron is also a Non-Executive Director of ASX listed Po Valley Energy Limited and LSE listed W Resources PLC. He is a director of a number of private companies.

Ray has more than 20 years experience in the banking and finance sector and has held senior accounting positions in the mining and manufacturing sectors. He is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD), a Fellow of the Institute of Public Accountants (FIPA) and a Fellow of the Australasian Mutuals Institute (FAMI). Ray and his wife Annmaree have been involved with PMRC since 1999 as facilitators and mentors with the Smart Loving programs.

Byron and his wife Francine are the chair couple of the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council, an advisory body to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. Byron served as President of the Australian Council of Natural Family Planning for eight years. Byron holds a PhD from the Commonwealth Centre for Gene Technology, Adelaide University and a BSc (1st Class Honors) from the University of NSW. He and Francine have five children.







PMRC and the Synod

PMRC in the Australian Church

Ron and Mavis Pirola were co-founders of PMRC Australia, foundation members of the Pontifical Council for the Family for 25 years, and have just completed 9 years chairing the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council. They were lay observers and speakers at the 1987 Synod on the Laity.

The vision of PMRC is that its range of initiatives provide a practical grounding in the activation of lay leadership in a relational spirituality. It takes its lead from St John’s Gospel, ‘May they all be one … that the world may believe’ (Jn 17:21) and therefore starts with the natural source of human community and the commonest vocational sacrament, namely Matrimony.

At the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family, Ron and Mavis were one of twelve invited couples to attend. Their intervention emphasized the sexual nature of the sacrament of Matrimony. They also called for the wider church to learn from the lived experience of the domestic church in expressing truth with a spirit of welcome and compassion. Their intervention was on the opening day of the Synod and was the only one released by the Vatican Press Office on that day. Consequently it received extensive world-wide coverage and varying interpretation by all sides of the debate on marriage and family life. The full text of their intervention can be found on the MRC website.

The intention is that this will create couples confident in their vocation and ready to lead the Church in many directions, well beyond the immediate activities of PMRC. Examples of this in practice include: • Couples selected to represent the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference at the most recent World Meetings of Families (Mexico City, Milan and Philadelphia). • Membership of the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council. • Lay leadership positions in dioceses and parishes.

Ron & Mavis Pirola awarded honorary doctorates Prof Romano (Ron) and Mrs Mavis Pirola were each awarded a Doctorate of the University (honoris causa) by the Pro-Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, Mr Julien O’Connell AM, at a graduation ceremony in Sydney on 25th May 2016. Ron and Mavis then gave the Occasional Address. The couple were recognised for their faith and scholarly based leadership nationally and internationally in promoting marriage and the family, in accordance with the Catholic tradition.

Ron & Mavis after receiving their doctorates at ACU

PMRC Report 2016-2017



FUNDING PMRC is comprised of several legal entities, all of which are either registered charities or not-for-profit companies. The organisation is primarily led by Ron and Mavis Pirola and Bryon and Francine Pirola, none of whom derive any income or remuneration from any of the activities of PMRC. The work of PMRC and its related activities is entirely self-funding. We receive no funding from dioceses or government. Part of our work is funded by course fees and product sales and the remainder from donations; mainly from those who are also freely giving their labour to further the mission. The legal entities PMRC operates under are all governed under Australian corporate law and the PMRC and its related entities file annual returns with ASIC, the ATO and the ACNC as required. The accounts of both PMRC (Australia) and the Foundation are audited annually. To give a sense of the financing required to continue this work some simplified consolidated charts are included below.





(1 July 2015 - 30 June 2016)

(1 July 2015 - 30 June 2016)

$1,187 $304,955 25%

$44,481 4% $969,718 81% $180, 579 15%

$527,022 44% $172,598 15%

$24,057, 2% $55,620 5%

$111,712 9%

Product sales

Cost of goods sold

Grants and donations

Course provision and administration expenses

Course registrations

Provision of MRC online resources

Other income

Other expenses Office infrastructure

*rounded to the nearest thousand dollars

Program development



Parish & Marriage Resource Centre Phone: +61 2 9319 6280 Email: Web: National Office: 55 Portman Street, Zetland NSW 2017 AUSTRALIA

PMRC Australia Annual Report  

Outlining the charitable works of PMRC.

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