Virus fears keep numbers small at annual feast day Mass
A smaller but no less fervent congregation attended the St Patrick’s feast day Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral on 17 March.
With numbers restricted to no more than 500 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as per Government recommendations, and people adhering to calls to remain home if they had any cold or flu symptoms, the annual celebration had a “different ring to it altogether”, said Bishop Terry Brady, who presided at the Mass.
Mike Bailey, executive officer to the vicar general and the chancellor, welcomed the faithful noting that as “times are different” the congregation was much smaller than in past years.
“Faith of the Irish remains strong”
“It shows that the faith of the Irish does remain strong,” he said.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to welcome you to this Mass. St Patrick made a great contribution to the faith of this country although he never lived here, thanks to the faith of people who have come to these shores from Ireland.”
Governor of NSW Margaret Beazley was in attendance along with a number of other Church and civic leaders. John Allen, a member of Sydney’s Aboriginal Catholic Ministry presented a welcome to country before the Mass.
In his opening address, Bishop Brady wished all present “a very happy St Patrick’s Day”.
“I am so very conscious that many people who are normally here at this celebration are unable to be here today for many different reasons, the main one being this dreaded virus,” he said.
“We keep them in our prayers and hearts on this day, and all who have flocked to this cathedral for over 200 years to worship on this site.”
Opportunity ripe to rediscover the real St Patrick
Fr James McCarthy, parish priest of St Aloysius parish in Cronulla, said in the homily that St Patrick’s mission of bringing the message of the Gospel to the people of Ireland through his great love and compassion for them is a “strong message for today”.
The health crisis offered Christians who believe in the “historical St Patrick and Jesus Christ” an opportunity to bring hope to others, he added.
People accepted St Patrick to an extraordinary degree because he was able to serve them with love during “dark times”, said Fr McCarthy.
“St Patrick is just as ever if not more important today,” he said.
“In most years the people of Ireland have been pretty good at marketing St Patrick’s Day around the world. They have been very clever to use the feast day of St Patrick to promote Ireland, Irish tourists and Irish exports.
“This year is very different, as we can see just by looking at this congregation that there is a sense of fear in our society. So this year I think we can focus more on the person of St Patrick.
“The primary focus of St Patrick’s Day should remain the proclamation and reception of the Good News of Jesus Christ and that spirit of the Gospel should be allowed to permeate our world.”