A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Everyone is Irish on St Patrick’s Day

By Fr Patrick Brophy SM

Everyone is Irish on St Patrick’s day! So the saying goes. I happened to be in Dublin on St Patrick’s day, quite a few years ago. It seemed that no one there was too excited by the feast day. If memory serves, the television news items that evening featured the parades in Boston and New York. Outside of feast day Masses there was very little happening in Dublin! If anything, there was a slightly tongue-in-cheek edge to the reporting of the pomp and ceremony of those foreign celebrations. 

On St Patrick’s day, I tend to not focus on leprechauns, shamrock, and drinking Guinness (which I do enjoy). As one named for St Patrick, I prefer to reflect what this man means for me personally, for Ireland, and for the Faith in more distant places. 

Quite a few years ago, I visited a school on St Patrick’s day for Mass. After Mass the college stayed to watch a ‘play’ about Patrick that featured leprechauns, shamrock, and rubber snakes. Sadly, this modern trivialization of the “Apostle of Ireland” was merely mirroring our society’s secular celebrations of St Patrick’s day. I don’t mean that we should all be glum and serious in celebrating this saint. However, let’s not lose sight that his importance arises from the establishment of the Faith in Ireland, and secondly from what that Church contributed to the Faith in other countries.

The missionary endeavours of the Irish Church, spreading the Faith throughout the world, rival that of any other national church. Early Irish Marists were influential in the early days of the Church here in New Zealand and the churches of Australia and Oceania.

Patrick was kidnapped as a youth and transported to Ireland.  He escaped and returned home. Heroically he left home again to return, carrying the Faith, to the peoples who had enslaved him. The present issue’s cover portrays the young and energetic man who courageously returned to Ireland. On his return he brought the Gospel into a land fractured by tribal division, poverty, and hardship. He faced want, loneliness, violence and even death. By his prayers, tears and struggles Ireland received the Good News.

His spiritual descendants, the Irish missionaries, often faced similar challenges in order to preach the Gospel, this time in other foreign lands. We, in Australasia, owe much to them, not just in parishes, but also in the fields of education and health care. Many places in Africa and America also owe much to the presence of Irish missionaries. We should be grateful for their contribution. 

Like them, we can still be inspired by this young man who grew into sainthood by following God’s call to him. In life Patrick was powerful by God’s grace. He continues to be so by his example and intercession. God’s grace is present with us today. The work of spreading the Good News continues. Let’s remember to be grateful and to celebrate our Faith this St Patrick’s day.

Thanks Kevin

I can’t begin my term as editor of the Marist Messenger without thanking Fr Kevin Head SM, the outgoing editor. As you may be aware, Kevin has been appointed recently to St Patrick’s in Sydney to work there as an assistant priest. For the last 7 years he has ably guided the Messenger and produced a quality publication month after month. We, the Messenger readers, owe a great deal of gratitude to Kevin. 

Thank you, Kevin. We pray for you and express our good wishes as you begin your new ministry. 

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