Tag Archives: catholicism

The history of St. Patrick and his parade


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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By Will Sammon

On St. Patrick’s Day, almost everyone wants to be Irish, however, not everyone really knows why. New York City, from 44th Street to 86th Street, will be the biggest site of green attire and leprechaun attitude on March 17, the date of the annual holiday. But how does any of that, and all the beer drinking, relate to the importance of St. Patrick and the origin of the parade?

The History Behind St. Patrick

The answer, as you may have guessed, is nothing. But that is not to say you should not celebrate it, especially if you are of Irish descent.

The presumption that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland is largely a myth, according to Seamus Boyle, national president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, Inc. (AOH). He did, however, convert many Irish people to Catholicism. The Order is a Catholic Irish American fraternal organization founded in New York City in 1836. Within 200 years of Patrick’s arrival, Ireland was completely Christianized.

St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the turn of the 4th century. At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family’s estate. They whisked him away to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity.

According to his writing, God’s voice told him to leave from Ireland, and after more than six years of being held captive, the saint escaped. He walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast.

After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation — an angel in a dream told him to return to Ireland as a missionary.

The Parade

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade marched for the first time on March 17, 1762, 14 years before the Declaration of Independence was adopted. Today, it is the largest parade in the world, according to parade secretary Hilary Beirne.

To this day, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade remains true to its roots by prohibiting floats, automobiles and other commercial aspects in the parade. Every year 150,000 to 250,000 marchers, many bagpipe bands, politicians and approximately two million spectators lining up on Fifth Avenue, are involved in the celebration, according to the parade committee.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is run by a private corporation, The New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee. The parade workers and committee members are all volunteers.

The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York was held on lower Broadway in 1762 by a band of homesick Irish expatriates and Irish military serving with the British Army stationed in the American colonies in New York City, according to Beirne. This was a time when the wearing of green was a sign of Irish pride and was banned in Ireland. The parade participants reveled in the freedom to speak Irish, wear the green, sing Irish songs and play the pipes to Irish tunes that were deeply meaningful to the Irish immigrants who had fled their homeland.

The Parade starts at 44th Street at 11 a.m. and is held every March 17, except when March 17 falls on a Sunday; it is celebrated the day before, because of religious observances. The parade marches up Fifth Avenue, past St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 50th Street, all the way up past the Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Irish Historical Society at 83rd Street to 86th Street, where the parade finishes around 4:30 to 5 p.m.

 

Local Monsignor witnessed Dolan’s elevation


| brennison@queenscourier.com

A caravan of worshipers, including many local religious leaders, made the pilgrimage to Rome for the elevation of New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan, along with 21 others, to Cardinal.

Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, director of the Brooklyn Diocese’s Office of Parish Giving and Vicar for Development, attended the February 18 ceremonies in Rome that saw Dolan named Cardinal — the second highest rank in the Catholic Church.

“It was a wonderful experience to be there in Rome, the center of Catholicism,” Gigantiello said of the trip. “In St. Peter’s Basilica, to be there to celebrate Mass with the Holy Father with almost 10,000 people, every time you walk in, it gives you goose bumps.”

On January 6, the Pope announced that Dolan was to be appointed to the College of Cardinals — the exclusive electors of the Pope.

“I am honored, humbled and grateful, but, let’s be frank: this is not about Timothy Dolan; this is an honor from the Holy Father to the Archdiocese of New York, and to all our cherished friends and neighbors who call this great community home,” said Dolan upon hearing of his elevation.

At the consistory, Pope Benedict XVI said, “The new cardinals are entrusted with the service of love: love for God, love for His Church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters.”

As the Archbishop, Dolan is the spiritual leader of the more than 2 million Catholics in New York. Dolan was named archbishop in 2009.

The newly-minted Cardinal presided over his first public Mass on Sunday, February 26 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Gigantiello, who is also the pastor of Mary Queen of Heaven in Brooklyn, praised the youth and diversity on display in Rome during the ceremonies.

“To see cardinals from all around the world celebrating our faith is special,” he said. “It’s good to see the church alive like it is in Rome. There are so many young people taking part in all of the services. It’s very encouraging to see them taking part.”

Aside from enjoying the celebratory nature of the events, Gigantiello is pleased with the choice of Dolan, whom he believes can help the local church reconnect with the community.

“I think [Dolan] was an excellent choice. He is a leader, a theologian, but also has a great charismatic personality,” he said. “He’s approachable, people can relate to him and he can relate to people. He’s very inviting. I think this is what the church needs today.”