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Mass, parade highlight St. Patrick’s Day 2019 in Cleveland

News of the Diocese

March 18, 2019

SS. Robert and William Church in Euclid was packed with people for the 9 a.m. Mass on March 17. The annual Mass before the 177th St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Cleveland attracted hundreds of worshippers. The main celebrant this year was Bishop Nelson Perez.

Mass, parade highlight St. Patrick’s Day 2019 in Cleveland

Members of the Irish American Club-East Side, parade honorees, a color guard, musicians and others filled the church. Seven other priests, including Father John Betters, SS. Robert and William pastor, Father Thom Kowatch and Father Tim Roth, parish parochial vicars, concelebrated.

The bishop mingled with honorees and members of the congregation before Mass, even posing for a few photos. One photo op included Bill Homan, the parade grand marshal, who is a parishioner at St. Justin Martyr Parish in Eastlake.

Mass, parade highlight St. Patrick’s Day 2019 in Cleveland

The color guard, East Side IA pompom unit, the Jack McDonough Fife and Drum Corp and the East Side IA Ladies Drill Team processed into the church to music from the fifes and drums.

A piper played as Mary Campbell-Stack, East Side IA member of the year, and her family, and the club’s executive board, including Mary Alice Curran, president; Kevin McCluskey, vice president; Patty Campbell, treasurer; Linda Walsh, secretary; Kathy Foster, membership; and members at-large Debbie Arth, Chris Faith, Erin Homan and Sue McGill and their families took their seats.

Mass, parade highlight St. Patrick’s Day 2019 in Cleveland

Bill Homan, the parade grand marshal, his wife, Patricia, and their family; past club presidents; past mothers of the year; past members of the year; city officials; the concelebrants and Bishop Perez followed.

In his homily, the bishop talked about how St. Patrick, who was born in Britain, was captured and taken to Ireland in the fifth century. He was enslaved for about six years before escaping and returning to his family in Britain. He went back to Ireland and eventually became a priest and then a bishop. He is credited with helping to convert the Irish people to Christianity.

“St. Patrick is a powerful expression of what it means to be sent. He transformed the heart of a country,” the bishop said. “He didn’t have Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat – all he had was his faith, his passion and his generous heart.”

Mass, parade highlight St. Patrick’s Day 2019 in Cleveland

Bishop Perez read excerpts from “The Confessions of St. Patrick,” sharing the story of how Patrick first came and then returned to Ireland to preach to the unbelievers. “He wanted to share with Ireland what he’d felt and experienced – the joy of the Gospel,” the bishop added.

He said it is a great honor if someone wants to share the Gospel with the next generation “with joy, clarity and great love,” like St. Patrick did.

The bishop also linked St. Patrick’s story to the day’s Gospel, which talked about the transfiguration. He said the disciples who were invited onto Mount Tabor with Jesus witnessed his glorious transfiguration and were so awed that they didn’t want to leave. However, Jesus reminded them that they had to go back down “into the mess of the world,” the bishop said, to do the work of Jesus’ father.

Mass, parade highlight St. Patrick’s Day 2019 in Cleveland

“He (Jesus) also knew that in a short time, he would be on another mountain suffering and nailed to a cross – this same person who was transfigured so gloriously. He is the same God who is with us when things are great and going well. And he’s also with us in the bad times, when things aren’t so good,” the bishop said.

“God had a plan for Patrick and for all the hearts he’d transform. Be faithful to that plan,” Bishop Perez said.

After the homily, he blessed a basket of shamrock plants before proceeding with the liturgy.

The bishop spent time chatting with members of the congregation and posing for photos before heading back downtown for the parade.

Mass, parade highlight St. Patrick’s Day 2019 in Cleveland

He joined members of the United Irish Societies of Greater Cleveland, which has presented the parade for the past 62 years, and other dignitaries including Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, on the steps of the Bishop William Cosgrove Center, for pre-parade activities. Theme of this year’s parade was “Irish Churches of the Diocese of Cleveland.” Several floats included models of various churches in the diocese, including St. Mary on the Flats, the first church in the diocese, which opened in 1838, nine years before the diocese was established. St. Mary’s closed in 1879 and due to deterioration, was demolished.

Mass, parade highlight St. Patrick’s Day 2019 in Cleveland

Homan, the grand marshal; Patti Maher Hanrahan and Sister Corita Ambro, CSJ, parade co-chairs; and Eileen Kilroy, Irish mother of the year, were introduced. The national anthems of Ireland and the United States were sung and Bishop Perez offered a short blessing over the parade, thanking Ireland for sharing St. Patrick with us and for our gift of faith.

Mass, parade highlight St. Patrick’s Day 2019 in Cleveland

Shannon Corcoran, parade executive director, then presented Homan with a silver whistle that he used to signal the start of the 2019 parade.

Huge crowds lined Superior Avenue from East 18thStreet west, past the reviewing stand and Public Square, where the parade turned onto West Roadway before disbanding at Rockwell Avenue. An estimated 10,000 marchers in 125 units participated in this year’s parade.

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