Following in the footsteps of St. Patrick

BRIDGEPORT— Bagpipes played outside St. Augustine Cathedral, the worshippers were bedecked in many shades of green, Mr. and Mrs. Shamrock brought up the gifts, and the Lauralton Hall Choir brought their ethereal voices to the diocese’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Mass.

Spirits were high and the conversation was lively on an overcast morning as more than 100 St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee members and other leaders turned up for the 8:30 am Mass to start the parade day with prayer and worship.

“It is good that we can be together again. I want to thank all of you for coming to this Mass. It is a beautiful way to begin festivities,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano who celebrated the Mass along with Father Art Mollenhauer, pastor and rector of St. Augustine Cathedral, and Father Frank Hoffman, Vicar for Clergy in the diocese.

The bishop told those in attendance that he would pray for them and ask God’s blessing for the day, and he encouraged them to “walk in the footsteps of St. Patrick” by placing their trust in God, not merely in their own authority or achievements.

In the prayer of the faithful, the congregation prayed for peace in Ireland, and for the souls of past Parade Grand Marshals Peter Bellew, Billy Carroll, Ted Lovely, and Peg O’Connor. They also prayed  that the many members of  the Irish diaspora around the world see themselves in those who are suffering today.

In his homily the bishop reflected on the Gospel of Luke (5:1-11) in which after preaching from a  boat along the shore,  Jesus asks Simon Peter to return to deeper water to resume fishing. Peter answers that they’ve caught nothing after fishing all night, but he lowers the nets once again and in in return hauls in great numbers of fish.

“We are hearing an extraordinary story. Fishermen who have come from generations of fishermen are taking the advice of a carpenter,” said the bishop who noted that great trust in the Lord yielded a great catch.

He said that St. Patrick teaches us the same lesson because he had the trust to return to Ireland, a land where he had earlier been enslaved. In doing so, “St. Patrick brought the message of Christ  who received the faith and have been a bulwark of faith for centuries in Europe and beyond.”

The bishop said St. Patrick’s day is a time for all of us to ask ourselves an important question, “Do we trust in ourselves alone or in God’s providence and mercy?”

He said that “when are prayers are not answered, it’s tempting to think we know better than God or to turn away in disappointment.

“We live in a world that is not much different from Patrick’s, a world interested in power and subjugation of others by those who think they are in charge.  The faithful life finds its anchor in Jesus and trusts in him.”

The Irish Blessing, “May the road rise up to meet you,”  was sung as the recessional hymn by the Lauralton Hall Choir under the direction of Dr. Bill Atwood, director of the diocesan music ministry. Following Mass, Bishop Caggiano greeted the faithful on the steps of the Cathedral and many asked to have their photo take with him.