Happy St. Patrick’s Day

After his appearance on the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis returned to the Domus Sancta Maria where we cardinals had all resided during the conclave (By the way, his limousine, with proper security escort, stood ready to chauffeur him back to the Domus, but, he got on the bus and rode back with all of us!).

There we had, as you might imagine, a rather festive supper. At its conclusion, a senior cardinal toasted the new Holy Father. Pope Francis stood to reply. His toast to the cardinals who had just elected him as Successor of St. Peter? “May God forgive you!”

This of course brought the house down. He then told us what he planned to do the following day, and ended by saying, “And sometime tomorrow I’ll have to stop by the Casa del Clero (a pensión for priests visiting Rome where he had been staying before the conclave) to pick up my baggage and pay my bill!

A simple observation, but it made me think: this man, seventy-six years old, will now have to move from his beloved Argentina to Rome.

Pope Francis is moving… and the Church herself is always on the move. That’s because the Church is missionary! In His parting words to His disciples, Jesus told them to “Go out to all the world!”

A man named Patrick once did that. You know the story: born probably in England (although the Italians claim he came from here in Italy!), he was kidnapped as a boy and sold into servitude in Ireland. There he came to know and love the people of that verdant, tiny island, as rough and contentious as they were, and longed to teach them the faith he had learned as a child. Even when he escaped and returned home, he could not get Ireland out of his mind, and, so, later went on the move as a bishop back to the damp turf that now claims him as patron. There, he brought the Name, message, and invitation of Jesus and His one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. St. Patrick was a missionary.

When, during the years 1845-1851, the blight and famine hit Ireland — – literally “like a plague,” resulting in the starvation of approximately two million or more people, what historians call “the greatest disaster in peace time human history” — – the people of Ireland were “on the move” in a scattering, a diaspora often compared to that of Jews from Israel after the Roman onslaught of 70 AD.

These Irish on the move, these emaciated sons and daughters of St. Patrick, came by the hundreds of thousands to the United States, with nothing of earthly value but the clothes on their back, and fond, yet tearful, memories of the people and the land they cherished, but with something of heavenly value, a “pearl of great price” in their Catholic faith. While the woman called the Statue of Liberty was not yet there in the harbor to welcome them to America, another woman was, one called Holy Mother Church. And we are proud and grateful heirs to those Irish on the move.

In a way, those Irish were missionaries, weren’t they? In humble, simple ways, they built the Church here in America, and passed the faith brought to them by Patrick on to their children.

I’m sure glad Patrick went to Ireland; I’m glad one Patrick Dolan left County Cavan, starving, in 1851; I’m glad he passed on his Catholic faith to his son, Patrick, who then passed it on to Timothy Patrick, then he to William Timothy, who passed it on to Robert Matthew, who passed it on to one Timothy Michael Dolan, who now is proud to call St. Patrick’s his cathedral, and who very much misses all of you as we’ll observe the feast day Sunday, of the one who went on the move and brought the faith to Ireland.

So, Pope Francis is in great company as he moves from Argentina to Rome. That’s just how it is in the Church.

Viva il Papa Francesco!

Viva St. Patrick!

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15 Responses to “Happy St. Patrick’s Day”

  1. JP says:

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  2. Saint Patrick is my saint for 2013 and his story seems very fitting for me at this time in my life. He is also my younger brother’s Confirmation saint, so I, too, am very excited for his Feast on Sunday.

    I enjoyed reading the stories about Pope Francis. I’m also excited for his papacy. Viva il Papa!

  3. Blandina says:

    Tyou for the laugh and the history. You rock!

  4. Beautiful choice on our new Pope Francis, Eminence. Well done, good and faithful servant of God. The Spirit worked through you and gave us a visible witness to Gospel priority to the poor. Happy St. Patrick’a Day!

  5. Tom says:

    Why is this pope making such dramatic changes from the first second he was elected. I consider it rude, not humble, that he just dismisses poor Monsignor Guido Marini’s guidance. It was plain that the new pope could care less for the liturgical renewal started by Pope Benedict. And what a shame that is. Making a public show at humility causes me concern. No person alive was more humble than Benedict XVI. I’d bet my soul this new pope would never surrender the papacy for the good of the Church now that he has it. Being humble means accepting the papacy. Francis said yes. That yes does not give him the right to do away with symbols that are important to many Catholics. Yes the liberals LOVE the fact that he refuses to dress as all popes before him have dressed, but that is not going to bring them back into the church. A pope dressing and acting like a pope is not what needs reform. I saw cardinal after cardinal say the Church needs to be reformed. NO, you priests and bishops need reform. It wasn’t the laity that abused children and covered it up, it was the bishops and priests. I would suggest you stop doing away with Catholic symbolism which is important because it gives Catholics an identity and focus on making sure priests, nuns and bishops are living as the Church has asked them to live. Then you can start worrying about mozettas and mitres. And by the way St. Francis never had a problem with the very best for the liturgy, nor did any other saint. This pope is changing this much too fast, that is not humble but arrogant.

  6. Molly says:

    Love this Cardinal Dolan, and love you! You would have made an amazing pope, but thanks be to God you got to come home. We need you here!!

  7. Cardinal Dolan,

    an amazing and wonderful sharing!

    As an Italian Canadian I will not claim St. Patrick to be Italian, but tomorrow will share in commemorating this fine Irish Shepard. I share your sentiments about the Irish as missionaries..it is because of those fine Irish settlers in my area that we have numerous Catholic Churches. In fact, a priest by the name of Fr. Francis McSpiritt from Cavan truly left his “mark” upon many in the community in the 1800′s, and continues to be spoken about today. He actually passed through NY before ending up in our diocese. ( Worth a read http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?BioId=40414 )

    God Bless the Irish and County Cavan

  8. Delene van de Heuvel says:

    Happy St Patrick’s Day, Cardinal Dolan … from a rather wet (not unusal tho) Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

  9. Thomas Lynch says:

    I was born in County Cavan where Dolan is a common name and Lynch and Poverty is no stranger in my home county and it was poverty that sent me to England with my Father,I aged 15 and it was to give my children a good start in life I emigrated as young married man with my wife and three children to Australia and God was good to us but I still dream of that Green beautiful land

  10. Ryan O'Callaghan says:

    Hi Father
    I want to say a personal thank you for restoring my faith and making me appreciate my religion more. I’m from Manchester in England and was studying acting in New York last year. I was raised a catholic but never really practised until I started to attend yours and Father Andy Kings masses. You really made me realise how proud I am to be a Catholic and I can’t thank you enough for that.
    Hope to attend one of your masses again soon and please come over to london some time and give Mass at Westminster Cathedral
    Warm regards
    Ryan O’Callaghan

  11. Theresa Dowd says:

    Cardinal Dolan, this is so beautiful it made me cry. Thank you. I, too, am thankful for all of my Irish ancestors before me who have kept the faith going. God bless them all.

  12. Gertrud H says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post! So good to hear how the Lord is guiding His Church! We love you!

  13. Tom O'Brien says:

    May we all become St. Patrick and St. Francis to evangelize
    the world, that everyone would come to Jesus and His Church
    and spend eternity in heaven.
    Jesus accomplish this in us because You are alive.
    Glory to God forever,
    TO’B

  14. Margaret Duffy says:

    Thank you, Cardinal Dolan, for your fine words about St.Patrick! Thanks to him for bringing the faith to that little island and thanks to our ancestors for handing it on so faithfully to us.
    It’s nice to know that you are so aware of your ancestral connection to Ireland and nice to know that your great grandfather and my father came from the same area, where Duffys, Dolans and Farrells/Farleys abound, including one who was a second cousin of my grandmother Duffy (née Duffy) and one of your esteemed predecessors!
    Also nice to know that you will be returning to us in New York and NOT staying in Rome.

  15. Michael in Cincinnati says:

    In regards to our brother Tom’s concerns: Each ordained priest, be he priest, bishop or pope, presents different gifts to the Church, as we in the common priesthood do. At times, if we do something in public that might give someone the opportunity to condemn us for “public sanctity” this is not necessarily sinful. The Saints themselves, such as Padre Pio for one, tried to hide their outward holiness, but in the end gave their fiat to God as He wanted to give us an example. Many of us could also identify “ordinary saints” that we know and love in a heartbeat.

    As far as blaming only the ordained for the sex abuse scandal, we also have to remember that the laity did participate not only in not correcting things right away, but also the approval of unqualified men into the priesthood. One may forget that the Church hired laymen, sometimes not even Catholic, or non-Catholic Christian to perform duties of a psychologist for screening or lawyer for legal advice on what to do.

    Also, Tom and others may wish to read the Catholic League’s critique on the John Jay Report on the sex abuse in the U.S. Only 5% of the cases involve what could be considered pedophilia. 10% was heterosexual abuse on young women and adult women. 85% were committed on young men and adult men by men with same-sex attraction. This misunderstanding by many of who the victims were does not take away the grave nature of the offense, but should act as a warning that the media which has a false value system, can not be entirely trusted to educate us.

    To do so would repeat the error of using the media to instruct us on Vatican II and we see where that has gotten us. God Bless all.