St. Patrick’s Church in Washington Celebrates Feast of Saint Patrick with Mass, Traditional Irish Music, and Dance

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, March 15, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Washington celebrated Mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Washington for the solemnity of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Before and after the Mass, Irish dancers from the O’Neill-James School of Dance performed to bagpipe music.

In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl spoke of how the day is a pause during the Lenten season to celebrate the life and holiness of St. Patrick. “One purpose in retelling the story of the life of St. Patrick is to see what parallels there are in his life and the lives of all of us so that we might, through our recognition of him and celebration of him, draw a little closer to God ourselves,” the cardinal said.

The cardinal spoke of a goblet he received many years ago on the Feast of St. Patrick, on which were a number of engraved scenes from the life of the saint: being kidnapped when he was young; Patrick praying amidst his flock of sheep; his returning to Ireland to preach the gospel; and the saint as bishop driving out snakes from the land. All these stories, the cardinal said, show how God’s grace was working in the life of St. Patrick. During Lent, the cardinal said, we can especially realize, as St. Patrick did, our captivity, our sin, and the abundant grace available to us in prayer and the sacraments.

“It is the serpent who represents the devil, and this image is Patrick driving out the devil from the hearts of any believer who accepts Christ and lives in that Gospel,” Cardinal Wuerl said. In the Irish traditions of culture and faith, we see “a reason to recognize God’s grace at work in us…driving out any temptation that would separate us from the wonder, the mystery, the goodness of God,” the cardinal said as he concluded his homily.

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.