Five ways to put saint back into St. Patrick’s Day
By Julie Filby
While enjoying St. Patrick’s Day traditions—wearing green, watching a parade, or celebrating with a pint of beer and a plate of corned beef and cabbage—Catholics are reminded how the saint’s example of sharing the faith in fourth-century Ireland remains relevant today.
“It’s great to highlight St. Patrick during the Year of Faith because he brought the Christian faith to Ireland, and endured great hardship in doing so,” explained James Cavanagh, director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis for Denver metro-area parishes.
St. Patrick was born around 385 in Britain. As a teenager, he was captured and sold as a slave in Ireland—a land of Druids and pagans. He escaped and returned to Britain six years later, but felt called back to Ireland. Ordained a priest and later a bishop, he ultimately returned to Ireland where he preached Christianity to the Irish for 40 years and converted thousands.
“He was the premier evangelist in Ireland,” said Cavanagh, “and that can get lost in midst of the corned beef and cabbage and beer.”
Below are five ways Catholic can celebrate the ministry of St. Patrick on his feast day, March 17, or otherwise during the Year of Faith.
Mass. As St. Patrick’s Day is on Sunday this year, consider attending Mass at a church under the patronage of St. Patrick: St. Patrick Oratory in Denver at 3325 Pecos St. at 11 a.m.; in Eagle County at St. Patrick Church at 476 Pine St. in Minturn at 8 a.m. or 9:30 a.m.; or on the eastern plains at St. Patrick Church at 541 S. Interocean in Holyoke at 8 a.m. or 4 p.m. in Spanish (see box for more information).
Fellowship. Some communities have dinners or dances to celebrate, including St. Patrick’s Minturn and Holy Family Meeker. All are invited to Spirit Center Church Hall at 461 Main St. in Minturn 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for a free corned beef and green chili dinner. Freewill donations will be accepted to help finance a $300,000 construction project beginning soon to repair damage to the church. In Meeker, all are welcome to the parish’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal, which began in 1905: homemade chicken and noodles. It will be held 2 p.m.-4 p.m. at the Fairfield Center in Meeker at Second and Main streets.
Know and spread the Word. During this Year of Faith, Catholics are called to get to know their faith better, allowing them to share it with others. “St. Patrick used the things the Irish were familiar with, such as the shamrock, to communicate the timeless treasure of the Gospel,” said Cavanagh. “He was always looking for things in their culture to help teach them about Christ and what’s what we’ve got to do today.” Catholics are encouraged to break open the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and take advantage of classes, workshops and conferences offered throughout the archdiocese. For more information, visit http://yearoffaith.archden.org.
Read. The Cardinal Stafford Library on the grounds of the John Paul Center in Denver offers selections related to St. Patrick including his writings, though there are few. Cavanagh also recommended reading “How the Irish Saved Civilization” by Thomas Cahill. While not directly about the life of St. Patrick, it shares the story of how Irish monks and scribes, influenced by the ministry of St. Patrick, preserved the records of Western civilization while Europe was overrun by barbarians. Later as missionaries, they worked to re-evangelize Europe.
Pray with St. Patrick. St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer really captures the essence of the Gospel, said Cavanagh, as he paraphrased excerpts: “Christ is with me, before me, above me.” To learn more about St. Patrick and this prayer in the Catholic Encyclopedia, visit www.newadvent.org/cathen/11554a.htm.
Pilgrimage to St. Patrick churches
There are three churches in the Denver Archdiocese under the patronage of St. Patrick: in north Denver, the Rocky Mountains, and near the state’s northeast corner. Consider visiting these churches during the Year of Faith.
St. Patrick Oratory
St. Patrick Church
St. Patrick Church
Everyone’s Irish for the Day
Many cities, including Denver, host an annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. In 1906, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (the oldest and largest Irish Catholic organization in the U.S., see related story in this week’s Register) organized what may have been Denver’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade, followed by high Mass with Father William O’Ryan’s sermon on “Ireland’s Loyalty to Patrick’s Faith,” a grand reception, and evening ball.
St. Patrick’s Day parades went out of style during the 1920s when anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant organizations frowned on such displays seen as “un-American.” The local parade was revived in the early 1960s.
This year’s parade in Denver, one of the largest in the country, kicks off at 10 a.m. March 16 at Coors Field at 27th and Blake streets. It continues west on Blake and finishes back at Coors Field around 1:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.denverstpatricksdayparade.com.