Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass on St. Patrick’s Day

Thursday, March 17, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The steps of St. Patrick’s Church in Washington were filled with traditional Irish music and dance, as Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrated Mass to honor the patron saint of Ireland. Cardinal Wuerl began his homily by reflecting on Pope Francis’ visit to Washington last September; one of the stops the Holy Father made was at St. Patrick’s. “What do Saint Patrick, Pope Francis and all of us have in common as we reflect on Saint Patrick today?” the cardinal asked.

“The story of the life of Saint Patrick is the story of his bringing to Ireland, to those in spiritual need, to those in a situation where the light of Christ was not present to their lives, to all of those he brought the Good News that God loves us, that Christ has redeemed us and that we are brothers and sisters of each other, called to care for one another.” He continued, “Is that not the message also of Pope Francis as he walked down the aisle of this Church and as he walked down the aisle of the Joint Meeting of Congress in the Capitol, as he walked down the aisle of the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle to speak to all of the bishops of our country and as he walked down the aisle of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception to speak to 3,000 seminarians and religious postulants and novices, and as he walked down the aisle on the grounds of The Catholic University of America to the altar on the East Portico of the Shrine to celebrate the Canonization Mass of Junípero Serra.” Cardinal Wuerl said that each person has something in common with Saint Patrick and Pope Francis, which is the mission to bring the Good News of God’s love and Jesus’ mercy to those around us, especially in our care for one another.

The cardinal continued, “The celebration of Irish heritage is the celebration of carrying the gifts of Saint Patrick to every corner of the earth where the Irish have gone, sometimes to flee famine, other times to flee political persecution, and other times simply to make a better life. Our celebration today is a recognition of one person, Patrick, on an entire culture that has become a worldwide reality.”

Cardinal Wuerl noted that the impact of St. Patrick can be seen in the ministry of Pope Francis, who has reminded a world in need of God’s mercy to go out and accompany one another on life’s journey, hoping these moments of encounter will draw each person closer to the Lord. “Brothers and sisters, today in this celebration, let us simply remind ourselves that task is ours as well,” he reminded the faithful. “None of us can determine how God’s Providential Plan has placed us where we are but it is where we are that gives us the opportunity to be who we are – disciples of Christ who try to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.”

“Let us look at the signs around ourselves, see the condition of our own lives and all the circumstances that are open to us to proclaim the Good News that God is with us, God loves us and God’s mercy is always there for us,” he said as he concluded his homily.

St. Patrick lived from approximately 385-461. According to tradition, he explained the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity by using a shamrock. Just as the one plant consisted of three leaves, so does the one God consist of three Divine Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. St. Patrick was a missionary considered responsible for spreading Christianity throughout Ireland.


The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

Chieko Noguchi or Lindsey Frechou
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