Although originally founded by Italian and German friars, in its more than 110 years as a province, Holy Name has come to comprise men from a wide spectrum of backgrounds — including a large number with Irish roots. It is no surprise, then, that several friars marked St. Patrick’s Day weekend with a variety of activities, including parades, presentations and prayers.
New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade — which began in 1762 — is the oldest and largest in the world. For the first time in those 250 years, students and alumni from Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y., participated in the parade along with their president Kevin Mackin, OFM. Kevin, who led the group of nearly 150, has been named to the national Irish Education 100 list.
While Kevin and the MSMC group were marking St. Patrick’s Day in a very traditional way, Neil O’Connell, OFM, chose an alternative way to mark the feast in New York.
His observance began on the afternoon of March 15 with a program at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. “Instead of the usual presentation extolling some aspect of the Irish American community,” he said, “I recounted the partnership of the Irish Repeal of the 1801 Act of Union (United Kingdom) Movement led by Daniel O’Connell and the Abolition of United States Black Slavery Movement led by William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass during the 1830s and ‘40s.”
Neil, a member of the Province’s African Ancestry Committee, added that his presentation explored why Irish Americans vilified O’Connell rather than stand behind his appeal to support abolition.
On March 17, Neil continued his non-traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebration by participating in the Occupy Faith observance. “Occupy Faith is a complementary movement of interfaith ministers of religion to the Occupy Wall Street movement,” said Neil, who in the fall participated in three interfaith prayer services. “Several hundred persons assembled at Liberty Plaza, processed down Broadway — pausing at Wall Street and the south side of the New York Stock Exchange — and dispersing at the Bull Market statue.” Neil noted that participants were of all ages and backgrounds, with “the color green in various expressions uniting them.”
Just 25 miles from New York in Fair Lawn, N.J., Jeremiah McGinley, OFM, continued a St. Patrick’s Day tradition he began a quarter of a century earlier while vicar of St. Anne’s Church.
On March 16, Jeremiah served as master of ceremonies for the St. Anne’s Parish St. Patrick’s Day festivities. The day included a parade, Irish step dancing, and a hat contest amongst school children. It was “a great day to be Irish, even if you’re not” according to the St. Anne’s School website.
Jeremiah lived at St. Anne’s from 1985 until 2005, when the Province withdrew from the parish. Though he now lives in Butler, N.J., he returns each year to serve as emcee of the festivities.
— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.