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Brothers: We stand just a week before the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of our Archdiocese and the patron of St. Patrick's Parish in Yorktown Heights—and March 17th is the day on which the parish church at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish was dedicated in 1963. There are many reasons for celebration! Yet again this year, many of the usual trappings of the day have been stripped away—parades and large gatherings will have to wait. (Having grown up in Pearl River, I particularly miss the parades.) Perhaps we might see in this an invitation to celebrate St. Patrick's Day as it truly ought to be: the feast day of a tremendous Catholic saint, not a holiday sponsored by Guinness!
We're living through times, especially in our own country, where things are increasingly divided and where there is little forgiveness to be found in the public sphere. Allow me to propose—especially in the midst of Lent—that we have a tremendous example of forgiveness in St. Patrick. You likely know the story: Patrick was raised in Great Britain, but was captured by the Irish around the age of 16, and he spent about six years as a poorly-treated slave in Ireland. When Patrick gained his freedom and returned to Britain, he would have had every right to have harbored much resentment against his Irish captors. Patrick decided to study for the priesthood and, rather than serve those in his native land, he sought to become a missionary to...the Irish! The Irish of the time are described by many historians as "barbarians," so Patrick—first as a missionary priest and eventually as a bishop—had his work cut out for him in bringing the Irish to the true faith. It would have bee n laudable enough to forgive the Irish from his home in Great Britain, but Patrick devoted his life to teaching and preaching the faith among the people who had treated him so poorly as a young man. This St. Patrick's Day, may we strive to embrace the example of radical forgiveness that St. Patrick offers us.
St. Patrick, Pray for Us!
Fr. Ryan A. Muldoon