Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day Mass

March 17, 2014

HYATTSVILLE, Md. – Traditional Irish music and dance filled St. Patrick Catholic Church in Washington, as Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrated Mass to honor the patron saint of Ireland. Despite a snow storm that brought several inches of snow to the Washington area and closed the federal government and local area schools, dozens of people still braved the weather to attend Mass.

In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl reflected on the recent one year anniversary of the election of Pope Francis and what many refer to as the “Francis effect.” He noted that for many centuries we have experienced the “Patrick effect.”

“If we were to confine ourselves just to the life and time of Saint Patrick, we would recognize the extraordinary impact he had in a very short period of time on all of Ireland. Between the time he arrived proclaiming the Good News that Jesus Christ is Risen and is Lord, until the time he died, he brought a sweeping change of culture and faith experience to the entire island,” said the Cardinal. “In fact it was eventually the faith in Jesus Christ and the Good News of the Gospel that became the touchstone of unity throughout Ireland. Even to this day with all of the secularization and challenges, Ireland is still strongly identified in the hearts of Irish people by faith in Christ and acceptance of his Gospel.”

The Cardinal continued to explain the impact of St. Patrick as the Irish immigrated to countries around the globe, “Then came the great waves of Irish immigrations to the United States, Canada, Australia and various other ports of call that witnessed the unprecedented spread of Irish culture deeply rooted in the Gospel and reflected in so much of the energy, creativity, and hard work that are characteristics of the Sons and Daughters of Saint Patrick.”

The celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day, the “infectious joy, the vibrant song and dance, the renowned scholarship and the deep and abiding religious spirit are all elements of the culture we celebrate today in the wearing of the green,” said Cardinal Wuerl. “I suggest that all of this is part of the ‘Patrick effect.’ And it has as its root the same source as the ‘Francis effect,’ the love of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“Perhaps at the very core of the ‘Francis effect’ is his simple, sincere and guileless acceptance of the basic truth of revelation that God loves us, that Jesus redeemed us and that we are invited and challenged to love one another and care for each other, especially those most in need,” said Cardinal Wuerl.

“Both Saint Patrick and Pope Francis have Simon Peter, Saint Peter, as the model,” Cardinal Wuerl continued. “One, centuries ago in Ireland, and another, today in Rome, remain steadfast in their belief that God’s love conquers all, that Jesus is risen and is our Savior and that each one of us can do our part to build a better world, to manifest that world of truth and justice, peace, compassion, kindness, forgiveness that Jesus called the Kingdom of God.”

“The Lenten pilgrimage that we are a part of right now, Saint Patrick’s Day and the ‘Francis effect’ provide us a time to reflect not only on the cross, Christ’s love for us, but also on the great gift of the outpouring of the Spirit that has anointed us and given us the courage to put out into the deep, to accept the challenge, do not be afraid and to live out our faith even in surroundings where it is challenged,” the Cardinal concluded.

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 96 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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