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Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!*

I am a first generation Irish woman. Both of my parents were born in County Sligo in the West of Ireland and came to the United States as young adults. They knew each other “at home,” so it was not surprising that they were married about a year after their arrival in New York.
Among my fondest memories of growing up is the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Actually, it was a few days before the big day when that little package would arrive in the mail from the post office in Dromore West, County Sligo. My uncle George, my Mom’s brother, was the postmaster for the area, and he was always faithful in sending my Mom the sprig of the real shamrock so she would have a little bit of “home” in New York. We would faithfully put it in water until the big day and then proudly don it on coats and Irish Aran sweaters. I walked up Fifth Avenue in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade for eight years while in high school and college. Every year, my sister and I would finish the parade route and then head back down Fifth Avenue until we saw the Sligo banner waving in the breeze. There we would find our father and other family members and friends and re-join the parade walking proudly with the delegation from County Sligo.
I owe my faith and vocation to my family and my roots in Ireland. As we celebrate another St. Patrick’s Day, I find my thoughts and prayers are for those in Ireland who are struggling to keep the faith alive. In Dublin, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s latest address on the faith’s next steps in Ireland, he said, “The challenge of faith in Ireland can only be addressed by radical efforts of new evangelization. That new evangelization must however have its own Irish characteristics. The renewal of the Irish Church must be led from within the Irish Church. It must begin immediately. There is little time to waste.”
The hope that the Church of tomorrow will once again be strong in Ireland is in the hands of the people, people who are leaders, people who are convinced and understand what faith in Jesus Christ means, people like my parents who sacrificed and trusted that the message of Jesus was indeed what they needed to “keep the faith alive”!
*A St. Patrick’s Day blessing on you!

Sr. Maureen P. Colleary, FSP is on the Pastoral Services team at RENEW International and a Franciscan Sister of Peace.

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