St Patrick’s Day 2022

On St Patrick’s Day, the Abbey Church hosted RTÉ for its national broadcast of Mass for the Feast Day.

This Mass was also a Golden Jubilee celebration for the Schola Cantorum of St Finian’s College, Mullingar.  The Presider and main celebrant for the Mass was Bishop Tom Deenihan, Bishop of Meath, with the local Franciscan fraternity concelebrating.

In his homily, Bishop Deenihan reminded us of the richness of our Christian heritage. While noting that Ireland was a pagan country before his arrival, by the time of Patrick’s death, this was no longer the case and it was without doubt, a Christian country. That heritage, especially its missionary heritage, is seen in the missionary eras of the ninth century, when Irish missionaries went to France, Switzerland, and Italy, and more recently, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when Irish missionaries set out for Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

Patrick’s experience, of pain, isolation, and doubt, are relevant to today, especially with the effects of Covid over the last two years, and in these days, with the images of those from Ukraine, leaving with their bags and few possessions, fleeing to foreign lands.

Today invites us to reflect on what it means to be Christian and Irish, to focus on who and what we are. Bishop Deenihan spoke of how we should thank God for who and what we are, for our long Christian heritage. However, he cautioned against getting caught up in a spiritual nostalgia. There were challenges – and sins – in past times. Today, we need to see that yes, there are challenges and that there are positives, and we need to find those opportunities to put our faith into practice.

Patrick gave us our Christianity. As we celebrate St Patrick’s Day, it is not just about marches and parades … or snakes! More real and important is that we do not lose sight of the sense and practice of our Christian heritage in the celebrations and the festivities.

The church was packed for the Mass and what a joy it was to feel this ancient building filled once more with wonderful music and singing, and all of it taking place in bright sunshine.