Religious and cultural values at heart of St. Patrick's Day celebrations

St. Patrick’s Day 2017

My Dear Friends,

Peace and all good things!

Today Savannah continues a 193-year old tradition of honoring the feast of the man who brought the Christian faith to Ireland.

The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration was a procession started by Irish immigrants seeking to maintain their identity in the United States. The private march that a group of Irish Protestants led in the early 1800s has blossomed into one of the largest March 17 celebrations in the United States.

From early Mass in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist to the Hibernian Society Banquet which goes late into the evening, the city is awash in a sea of green. In between there are the mammoth parade and family gatherings in the squares. All combine to make a fitting tribute to the evangelizer of Ireland whose life had a lasting impact not only on the Emerald Isle but on the world as a whole.

Our homilist for the Mass for the Feast of St. Patrick is the Reverend J. Ronald Madden, a native of Ballinasloe, County Galway, Ireland. Currently pastor of Christ the King Parish in Pine Mountain, Georgia, Father Madden was ordained a priest on June 6, 1970.  He immigrated to the United States in August of that year and served parishes in Albany, Savannah and Augusta prior to becoming a U.S. citizen in 1976. The influx of Irish immigrants into South Georgia since the 1850s brought scores of priests and religious to serve in parishes, schools and hospitals. Today over a dozen priests and religious born in Ireland minister here.

I commend the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, which each year on March 18 starts planning for the next year’s observance. During the weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish community sponsors many family-friendly celebrations, including the Celtic Cross Ceremony, the Savannah Irish Festival, and Tara Feis.

This annual reminder of the story of Patrick provides the opportunity for all of us, of whatever racial or ethnic origin, to acclaim the great saint’s treasured legacy of cultural and religious values.

Most Rev. Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv. Bishop of Savannah

Copied with permission from Savannah's Saint Patrick's Day 2017 Official Parade Magazine - 193rd Parade

WTOC-TV will air the St. Patrick's Day Mass live from the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist beginning at 8 a.m.
You can also watch the Mass live at

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