March 18, 2018

Friends,

This weekend throughout the Archdiocese of Boston, the country and many other places in this wonderful world we are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve said before that there are many Catholics in our society today who are not so much spiritually Catholic as they are culturally Catholic. So when someone describes themselves as an “Irish Catholic,” it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with God or their relationship with the Church. It’s about that person being of Irish heritage and being baptized in the Catholic Church. It can mean much more than that, but not necessarily so. For many, it is a source of great pride because they are celebrating the history of the Irish and their role in the building of the Catholic Church into the institution it is today. There is another term I’ve heard recently called “ethnic Catholicism.” It is when we identify a local or national celebration with the Catholic Church even though it is a secular event, e.g. the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston or the Italian festivals in the North End. Because so many of those of Irish and Italian heritage are Catholic we tend to identify the celebrations as Catholic, but in our society today they are much more of an ethnic event than a Catholic one.

I have great pride in my Irish/Italian heritage and I am grateful for the role both cultures play in my life. This weekend I rejoice with all those who appreciate the Irish culture expressed in the wearing of the green, the Shamrock, Irish music, Irish Folklore, the Celtic cross, Irish dance, the Leprechaun, Irish knit sweaters, Irish flag, Irish bread, corned beef and cabbage, and a pint Guinness.

It’s good to realize that every culture deserves to have pride in its history and its contributions to our world.

In this country and especially in our cities we host so many ethnic festivities throughout the year as so many nationalities celebrate their heritage, e.g. the Jewish holidays, the Puerto Rican Festival, the Chinese New Year, Black History Month.

One of the greatest thrills within a family is passing on traditions that are sacred to us to future generations. Naturally, we want our children and grandchildren to appreciate their history and the heritage of those who have paved the way. 

As we celebrate on this St. Patrick weekend, let those of us who are blessed to be both Irish and Catholic represent what is best in our culture and our religion.

Enjoy life!
Fr. Coyne

 

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