Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day Mass

March 17, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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.

Cardinal Wuerl began his homily by talking about the archdiocese’s event on February 28, Light the City. The event drew dozens of area young adults to St. Matthew’s Cathedral for Mass and Eucharistic adoration, followed by evangelization in the streets of downtown Washington where people were invited to come and pray, talk to a priest, go to confession, or light a candle. Referencing the street evangelization efforts by young adults in downtown Washington, “Basically, that is what Saint Patrick did,” said the cardinal. “Of his own free will and filled with the joy of believing in Jesus Christ, he simply made his way back to Ireland, where earlier he had been held in bondage, and began to ask people, would you want to hear some Good News?” People need to be reminded that God is a part of our life and that he loves us and is always there inviting us to get close to him, the cardinal continued.

He reminded the faithful that in the midst of remembering and celebrating Saint Patrick and the impact his teaching had on the faithful to follow Christ, it was also important to recognize that it was still Lent and to be attentive to the voice of the Lord. Lent is “a time when we also say, ‘Jesus, I am sorry!’ If we are honest with ourselves we recognize that not only do we fail, we sin, but we do so often. All of us can take some consolation from what Pope Francis said when asked how he would describe himself. Without hesitancy he said, ‘I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord, Jesus Christ.’”

Lent is a time to remember that before we can be forgiven, we must also say that we are sorry, the cardinal said. “‘I am sorry’ are simple words, but they require a humble admission on our part of failure. There can be no forgiveness of sins if we do not have sorrow at least to the extent that we regret it, resolve not to repeat it and intend to turn back to God. Our sorrow for wrong we have done should lead us to the Sacrament of Penance, reconciliation, confession.”

“On this feast of Saint Patrick, let us remind ourselves that with those simple little words we can accomplish so much. In fact, Saint Patrick himself reminds us in his Confession that, “God chose foolish little me…he picked ignorant Patrick…to go forth with fear and reverence…to serve the Irish faithfully.” The cardinal continued, “Each one of us can rejoice that we too are ‘foolish little ones’ when it comes to God’s great plan, but that we are capable of making a contribution to it. We can realize a better world, a better community, we can actually begin to realize God’s kingdom among us with words and actions as simple as ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘I am sorry’ and ‘yes, you are forgiven.’”

“On the Feast of Saint Patrick we celebrate Irish heritage, Irish history, the great Irish legacy that includes the joy of the Gospel,” said the cardinal. “To think of Ireland apart from her history, her faith, Christ and his Gospel is like taking a glass of Guinness stout with its bubbly foam on top and simply sniffing in the foam and throwing out the rest. You miss the point of the drink,” he said as he concluded his homily, drawing smiles from the faithful in the pews.

St. Patrick lived from approximately 385-461. According to tradition, he used the shamrock to explain the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. 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
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