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From St. Patrick’s Day to St. Patrick’s Day: New York Cardinal Makes Anniversary Pilgrimage to Ireland

ARMAGH, Northern Ireland (OSV News) — The Archdiocese of Armagh’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of the opening of St. Patrick’s Cathedral culminated with Mass celebrated on August 27 by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York during which he paid tribute to the “cycle of evangelism” between Ireland and the United States.

The great-great-grandson of Irish emigrants, Cardinal Dolan told the crowded cathedral that ‘wonderful’ Sisters of Mercy from the Irish town of Drogheda had been part of his own upbringing in Missouri and that he had sent a community of Franciscan Sisters of Mercy. Renewal in Drogheda and they are now based in the former Mercy Convent in Drogheda.

Irish Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan chat after concelebrating a mass to mark the 150th anniversary of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, August 27, 2023. (Photo OSV News/ Liam McArdle, courtesy of St. Patrick’s Cathedral)

Two members of the Sisters of Mercy attended the mass as well as members of the Franciscan Sisters of Renewal.

The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, recalled that “we know that among the most generous contributors to the building of this beautiful cathedral were the Irish in America”, including those who fled the Great Famine, which saw a million people die of starvation. and disease between 1845 and 1849, and a million more emigrated in search of a better life.

Addressing the congregation, made up of Irish bishops, priests of Armagh and local civic and political representatives, Bishop Martin recalled that Irish workers, especially in New York, had contributed one shilling per month to the construction of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh. The foundation stone was laid on St. Patrick’s Day in 1840, but the project had to be suspended during the famine and the money was used to help the hungry. Construction resumed in 1853.

“We are very grateful to you for coming here so that we can thank the American people. There were many other generous benefactors from Toronto, Canada, Australia and England. People from all over the world, who knew it was very important to have a Catholic Cathedral again in the city of St. Patrick,” Bishop Martin said.

Speaking after Mass, Cardinal Dolan told the media that “even famine could not stop” the construction of St. Patrick’s. “The example of a place like this pushes us to dig in and say, let’s go. Our ancestors did it, we can.

He also paid tribute to the workers of New York, who helped build St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh as well as the construction of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which opened in 1879.

He recalled that Archbishop John Hughes, an Irishman who oversaw the construction of New York Cathedral, said the cathedral would be “built with the pennies of the poor”.

“We still have a Church of the poor, that’s what Jesus wanted. And they like to see beautiful things for God, and they like to see beautiful places where they are welcome and at home. It happened here (Armagh) and it happened on Fifth Avenue, and it continues,” Cardinal Doland said.

Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the Archdiocese of New York, told OSV News that construction of St. Patrick’s in New York began in the late 1850s, but the American Civil War intervened and stopped all work on the cathedral.

From St. Patrick's Day to St. Patrick's Day: New York Cardinal Makes Anniversary Pilgrimage to Ireland
New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan speaks with a group of nuns after a mass marking the 150th anniversary of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, Ireland, Aug. 27, 2023. (OSV News Photo/Liam McArdle, Courtesy of St. Patrick’s Cathedral)

“It was started by Archbishop John Hughes, who was the fourth bishop and first archbishop of New York, but it was really completed by Archbishop John McCloskey who was the second archbishop and first cardinal of New York and first Cardinal of the United States. »

Zwilling explained that up to 40 pilgrims accompanied Cardinal Dolan on the pilgrimage to Ireland, called “From St. Patrick to St. Patrick.”

“It has truly been an opportunity to renew our appreciation for the faith of the Irish people who have had such an impact on faith in the United States, especially in New York,” Zwilling said. “It was Irish immigrants who built St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, so it was fitting that we had the Rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York with us (Father Enrique Salvo), we had the priest who is head of the trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Bishop Denis Keane) and many other people close to the cathedral joined us on this trip.

New York Auxiliary Bishop Edmund J. Whalen was among the group.

The pilgrimage included the celebration of the Eucharist at a ‘Mass Rock’ in Killarney, County Kerry. Outdoor mass stones were used by priests and worshipers when the practice of the faith was prohibited in Ireland during penal times under British rule.

“I don’t know if there is anything more meaningful than celebrating Mass on a rock in the middle of the woods, hidden away, and remembering those brave Irish people who, because they were persecuted for their faith, in risking their lives, sneaking into the woods when priests came, with sentries watching for British troops, and came to celebrate Mass and Holy Communion here,” Cardinal Dolan said in a video shared Aug. 22.

The pilgrimage included time at the International Shrine of Eucharistic and Marian Devotion at Knock, County Mayo, where Our Lady of Knock appeared in August 1879.

In his homily, Cardinal Dolan said the apparition occurred “at an anxious and dark time” in Ireland and the same year St. Patrick’s Cathedral opened on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

He noted that the apparition took place in “a simple parish church” in the “nondescript little village of Knock”.

“I know of no other apparition of the Blessed Mother that took place in a simple parish church. Remember, in the history of Ireland they could not have parishes until Catholic emancipation in 1829. Our Blessed Mother, I believe, was trying to increase the importance of parishes in the lives of believing Catholics,” he said.

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