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Sydney turns green for St Patrick’s Day

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Hundreds gathered at St Patrick’s parish in Mortlake for an evening of Irish food and drink, children’s rides and Irish music and dancing. Photos: Giovanni Portelli
Hundreds gathered at St Patrick’s parish in Mortlake for an evening of Irish food and drink, children’s rides and Irish music and dancing. Photos: Giovanni Portelli

Students from Catholic schools across Sydney have been urged to draw inspiration from the 5th century St Patrick who showed extraordinary resilience in the face of similar challenges our world is facing today such as war, forced migration, trafficking, prejudice and discrimination.

Over 700 people gathered for a Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 17 March, the feast of St Patrick, led by Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Sydney, Terence Brady and attended by numerous dignatories including NSW Governor, Margaret Beazley and Ireland’s Trade Minister, Simon Coveney.

Students and teachers from across Sydney Catholic Schools attended the Mass, including many representing primary and secondary schools named in honour of St Patrick.

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Bishop Brady told the congregation, St Patrick was a remarkable missionary who brought the Christianity to Ireland which in turn inspired others to spread the faith elsewhere.

“Whatever our cultural background, we can all associate ourselves with St Patrick, especially through his love for the Lord and his love for his brothers and sisters which we can all draw inspiration from in the way we show that hospitality of St Patrick towards others”, he said.

“Whatever our cultural background, we can all associate ourselves with St patrick, especially through his love for the Lord, and his love for his brothers and sisters.”

In his homily at the Mass, Irish-born Fr Eamonn Conway reflected on the inspiring resilience and steadfast faith of St Patrick which was especially relevant for young people today.

“We know that St Patrick was just 15 years old when he was kidnapped and enslaved in Ireland for six years”, explained Fr Conway who is Professor of Integral Human Development at the University of Notre Dame Australia and a priest of the Archdiocese of Tuam in Ireland.

“Patrick spent a number of his teenage years, hungry and cold, having to live in lonely woods and in mountain-sides in very harsh conditions and while he later escaped, he faced further trials later in life as a bishop when he was put on trial unfairly by senior bishops, including one he had once counted as a close friend”, Fr Conway explained.

“While Patrick said the impulse to give up was overpowering, he never lost sight that God’s grace would eventually triumph”.

Ireland’s Trade Minister, Mr Simon Coveney attended the St Patrick’s Day Mass during his visit to Sydney to promote growing economic ties between Australia and Ireland.

Over 700 people gathered for a Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, on the feast of St Patrick, celebrated by the Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Terence Brady on 17 March. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Over 700 people gathered for a Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, on the feast of St Patrick, celebrated by the Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Terence Brady on 17 March. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

He said St Patrick continues to be a modern-day inspiration for Catholics and non-Catholics, regardless of whether they are Irish or not.

“St Patrick was a migrant and a victim of people trafficking who encountered severe prejudice because of his faith and so I think so many people can relate to the story of St Patrick in the context of their own lives and their own struggles and particularly at this time when we’re seeing more refugees being driven from their homes than ever before because of war and conflict and quite frankly savagery in certain parts of our world today”, Mr Coveney told The Catholic Weekly.

Ireland’s Consul-General in NSW, Ms Rosie Keane called on those attending the Mass to pray through the intercession of St Patrick for a more peaceful world.

“Please keep those less fortunate in your thoughts and prayers today, in particular those suffering in Ukraine and further afield”, she said.

“I hope that when we meet again to celebrate our St Patrick’s Day Mass next year, that we indeed do so in more peaceful and happier times”.

“St Patrick continues to be a modern-day inspiration for Catholics and non-Catholics, whether Irish or not.”

In what has become an annual tradition, St Patrick’s Parish in Mortlake held a festival on the feast day, inviting hundreds of members of the community to enjoy an afternoon and evening of Irish food and drink, children’s rides and Irish music and dancing.

Parish Priest Fr Tom Stevens also unveiled a new life-size statue of Jesus which children can come and sit next to while visiting the church grounds.

“We really see the St Patrick’s Day festival as an opportunity to open up the parish to those who many not normally come to Mass at all”, he said.

“We are a very multicultural parish and we plan a number of twilight nights to appeal to everyone and so in October, we’ll also hold a Taste of Orent evening to help tap into the broad cultures represented here in Mortlake parish”.

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