Cardinal Wuerl Commemorates Feast of Saint Patrick with Mass

Traditional Irish music and dance a part of St. Patrick’s Day celebration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, March 17, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington celebrated Mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Washington, D.C. for the feast of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. He was joined by Bishop Barry Knestout and Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishops of Washington, as well as Bishop-elect Roy Campbell. Fr. John McNerny, a professor at The Catholic University of America visiting this year from Ireland, was the homilist. Before and after the Mass there was traditional Irish dancing from local dancers, and bagpipe music to celebrate the saint who spread Christianity in Ireland. A harpist played alongside St. Patrick’s choir during the liturgy.

In his homily, Fr. McNerney recounted the story of St. Patrick, explaining how he brought a lightness to darkness and helped alleviate a restlessness for transcendence through his teachings of Christianity. St. Patrick shared the gospel in a way that showed people that there is something beyond us, he said.

“St. Patrick encourages us to spread the culture of the life of the Trinity among us. Our belief is in God who is love, the love which allows no loved one not to love.” We must fall in love with the love of God who does not want us not to love, Fr. McNerney said.

As the Mass ended, Cardinal Wuerl reflected on the first time he attended Mass at St. Patrick’s Church, which was over fifty years ago when he was a student at The Catholic University of America. That Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle, archbishop of Washington from 1948-1973. As a special tribute to honor his predecessor, Cardinal Wuerl wore the cross that belonged to Cardinal O’Boyle at the Mass today. He called upon the younger generation present at the Mass to carry the joy of the Gospel in the spirit of St. Patrick and share with everyone they meet.

Founded in 1794, St. Patrick’s Church was established to meet the needs of the Irish immigrant community in Washington. It was one of the first church buildings in the Federal City. St. Patrick’s was one of the stops made by Pope Francis on September 24, 2015 during his apostolic visit to the United States. St. Patrick, who lived from 385-461, is said to have used a shamrock to explain the Catholic 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.