Saint Patrick’s Day message from Cardinal Brady to the people of Ireland

16 Mar 2012

Lá Naomh Padraig 2012

•    Message for Saint Patrick’s Day from Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
•    Video interview with Professor Salvador Ryan of NUI Maynooth on the life of Saint Patrick
•    RTÉ1 television to broadcast new setting of Mass in Irish language on St Patrick’s Day

Christianity has shaped our identity and heritage as Irish people in so many ways. Our celebration would be seriously impoverished if we ignored this Christian dimension of St Patrick’s legacy. – Cardinal Seán Brady

Saint Patrick’s Day is a special day for Irish people living at home and abroad.  Please see below Cardinal Brady’s message for Saint Patrick’s day.

The plight of Patrick, himself a migrant, has been faced by many Irish people who have struggled to live and integrate into new cultures.  Patrick was called to serve and bring God to a people far from his homeland.  Our national Saint was a pioneer in an inhospitable climate.  In the words of Saint Patrick “May it never befall me to be separated by my God from his people whom he has won in this most remote land. I pray God that he gives me perseverance, and that he will deign that I should be a faithful witness for his sake right up to the time of my passing” (The Confession of St Patrick).

In 2012 we celebrate our national saint’s day in the midst of a deep economic recession which has resulted again in the heartbreak and pressure of unemployment and emigration for many individuals and families throughout Ireland.  According to the Central Statistics Office, as of last September, 40,200 people from the Republic emigrated in the year to April, a rise of 45% on the previous 12 months.  At their recent general meeting bishops discussed the pastoral needs of the new generation of Irish emigrants.  As a response the bishops’ Council for Emigrants has published an information pack to coincide with Saint Patrick’s Day.  Its intention is to equip our emigrants with material that will allow them make informed decisions as well as support them in their new life abroad.

This information pack is available on and includes: (i) a snapshot of the reality of emigration, which will include stories from Irish emigrants about their personal experiences of emigration and stories from those who work to support Irish emigrants; (ii) practical information on emigration, such as visa requirements and information on accommodation and employment, and health insurance; and (iii) prayers for emigrants.

This emigration information pack is now part of a special web feature for Saint Patrick’s Day on the bishops’ website.  The feature also includes a message for St Patrick’s Day from Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, information on St Patrick and an interview with Professor Salvador Ryan from NUI Maynooth who offers a reflection on Saint Patrick.  See for the Emigrant Information Pack and the feature for St Patrick’s Day.

Mass on Saint Patrick’s day will be broadcast live on RTÉ 1 television from Knock Shrine.  The music for the Mass features a new Mass setting in the Irish  language entitled AIFREANN MHUIRE AN CHNOIC.  This has been composed by Sister Marie Dunne CHF who will direct the music for this Mass.  The music will be sung by Cantairí Óga Chnoc Mhuire (The Young Knock Singers) with soloist Patricia Bourke D’Souza and accompanied by local traditional instrumentalists.  Also included in the music for the Mass is a new setting to Lúireach Phádraig (Saint Patrick’s Breastplate) composed by Marie.  This is dedicated to the memory of Monsignor Joseph Quinn, former Parish Priest of Knock.  The celebrant for the Mass is the Very Reverend Richard Gibbons PP, the newly appointed Parish Priest of Knock.  The Mass will also be televised through the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) and will be taken live by the Czech Republic and EWTN, and so will be available in 144 territories and available to 148 million people.  It will also be available on the RTÉ website.

    Saint Patrick’s Day message from Cardinal Brady to the people of Ireland

With great joy, on this, the Feast day of St Patrick, our National Apostle, I wish Irish people everywhere a very happy St Patrick’s Day.  As we gather to celebrate our identity, our culture and our heritage, I salute you and greet you.

This St Patrick’s Day, I am keenly aware of the huge numbers who have emigrated from Ireland in recent times, especially those who felt they had no choice.  May the memory of St Patrick, who was himself carried off from his homeland at the age of sixteen, sustain all those who have left our shores for other lands.  May the example of Patrick’s faith in God, who comforted and protected him, protect and comfort them also.

Christianity has shaped our identity and heritage as Irish people in so many ways. Our celebration would be seriously impoverished if we ignored this Christian dimension of St Patrick’s legacy.

Copies have survived of two writings of St Patrick.  They tell us the kind of man Patrick was, of his faith and of his understanding of God.  They tell us that Patrick was a man who knew how to turn adversity into opportunity.  He successfully turned the adversity of six years of slavery on Slemish into an opportunity to grow in his knowledge and love of the God who, in Patrick’s words, “protected and comforted me as a father would his son.”  That knowledge and love of the Triune God are the basis of Patrick’s greatness.

Adversity also taught him the folly of relying exclusively on himself and the necessity of relying on others and especially on the God who created him.

My hope on this St Patrick’s day is that more and more Irish people will come to know the kind of person St Patrick really was, that they will come to know the faith that inspired him and carried him through the adversities of his life.

Towards the end of his Confession Patrick makes perfectly clear that he “never had any reason, beyond the Gospel and its promises, ever to return to the people from whom I had formerly, barely escaped.”  We have the same Gospel and the same promises.  My earnest hope is that we will all rise to the challenge of announcing that Gospel in the Ireland of today. My prayer is that we will not shut out or lose the Christian message that has brought such hope, consolation and strength to generations of Irish people, especially in times of adversity and challenge.

In his Confession, St. Patrick compares himself to “a stone that had fallen into a deep bog.  And He who is mighty, came and in His mercy, picked me up and indeed lifted me high to place me on top of the wall.”  As we prepare for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Dublin this June, we ask St. Patrick and all the Irish saints for a deep renewal of faith in God’s power to lift us up to new horizons of hope and possibility. A humble trust in Christ’s power to heal and renew in spite of our human weakness, would, I believe be proof of the authenticity of our celebrations today.


Further information
Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678