Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day- Ottawa style!

With my classmates Fr. Steve (L), Archbishop Prendergast, and Fr. Dean (R).

Every year seems to be a different kind of Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. Indeed, Irish Catholicism and Irish culture are worth celebrating. The celebrations began already the weekend before the 17th when I visited my community in Montreal. They prepared a lovely dinner on Sunday the 16th ensuring that the tablecloths and napkins were all Irish colours. They even went shopping for bars of chocolate in green wrappers which was really sweet of them (excuse the pun!). That same evening, I returned to Ottawa and together with another Irish student, we prepared to host a St. Patrick’s Day party for our student companions and some of the other residents of Deschatelets. It was lovely to see our friends from the various corners of the world turn up in their green or yellow clothes. Our friends from the Hispanic Parish had also made a cake for the celebration which was greatly appreciated. After some tasty pizza, we introduced them to some Irish music and of course a traditional drink of Guinness or Baileys. Throughout the evening, we also did the 'Irish test' with people to determine their Irishness! It was entertaining trying to explain to people what 'taytos', 'boiler press', 'immersion' and 'GAA' was! Photo gallery

On the morning of the 17th of March,it was off to University as we had class for our seminar presentations but the professor was kind enough to let us out a little earlier so it meant I was able to attend the celebration of the Eucharist in St. Patrick’s Basilica. Saint Patrick's Basilica has a long history in the City of Ottawa, being its first English-speaking Roman Catholic Parish. It was completed in 1875 and was declared a Basilica on Saint Patrick's Day, March 1995. It was one of the first places I sought out when I first arrived in Ottawa and I have to say that I immediately felt at home. I was very edified by the queues of people waiting for Confessions and the high attendance at the daily Masses. They also have a very well-stocked bookshop which also supplies various gifts and religious articles. It really is a little hub of activity worth visiting.

The celebration of the Eucharist was presided over by Archbishop Terence Prendergast and the homily delivered by Fr. Bosco Wong. During his homily, Fr. Bosco recalling the missionary zeal of Saint Patrick, shared how he came to be a Christian, then Catholic and then a priest through the perseverance of an Italian missionary in China when he was a student in university. He came to Canada many years ago and was ordained for the Archdiocese of Ottawa and is now the rector of Saint Patrick’s Basilica. How wonderful are God’s ways! The choir did a wonderful job with the singing, belting out classics like ‘Hail glorious Saint Patrick’, though I have to admit I was unfamiliar with ‘Hibernia’s Patron Saint, All hail.’ There was great participation from the assembly and it was lovely to see so many of my classmates concelebrating for the occasion. People really went to the trouble of looking the part dress wise and it felt like being at home for a few hours. Green was definitely the colour of choice. After the Mass, there was a delightful reception held downstairs. It was funny though when the Archbishop asked for a photo with a ‘real-Irish person’. I have some really good memories of that day which was a dignified celebration of a saint who transformed the life of many by introducing them to the living Jesus. On St. Patrick’s Day, we have the opportunity to recall our patron saint, the man of faith and courage who was not afraid to evangelise Hibernia or Ireland as we know it today. In turn, this was instrumental in helping the Irish people who with their faith, shaped the Church in the Western world as we recognise it today.