On Saint Patrick’s Day 2023, Archbishop Dermot Farrell of Dublin celebrated Mass at 10.30am in Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Archdiocese of Dublin. During his Homily, Archbishop Farrell emphasised the relevance of Saint Patrick’s story for Ireland today.
Archbishop Farrell said, “There is one aspect of Patrick that merits particular attention today. Patrick’s arrival as aspal Éireann as the hymn calls him – was not his first encounter with our land. His first visit was not of his own volition: he was taken prisoner as a youth, and was trafficked to a strange land and a strange people who exploited him for his labour. While he managed to escape, he surprisingly felt called to return to preach to those among whom he had been held captive. This is the measure of the man, and of his faith. Regrettably, human trafficking and the exploitation of the vulnerable are still markers of our own time.”
The Archbishop of Dublin continued, “From ancient times, we in Ireland have experienced the effects of migration and displacement. Our very DNA witnesses to a story of waves of people who settled here and shaped our culture, traditions and history. Sometimes, new arrivals evoked fear and conflict through the displacement imposed by those who would colonise this island. That fear wove its own survival narrative, a narrative all too often written at the cost of the outsider and the stranger, and resistant to the enriching effect of the different strands of human experience, and indeed different ways of expressing the human experience of God and of the gospel. The passing of time permits us to look back and appreciate that Ireland today is a rich tapestry of many traditions and peoples. The Ireland that is given to us is an Ireland that continues to be woven. Our land is not – and indeed our faith – have never been some idealised monocultural fortress. But that is a truth that takes us all a long time to learn.”
Archbishop Farrell said in conclusion, “Patrick preached the love of God and neighbour expressed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We cannot profess love of God and love of neighbour without acting to give it concrete expression. When God knocks at the door in the form of the migrant dependent on our kindness, there can be no ambiguity about how we need to respond: welcoming the stranger is not only our solemn duty and noble tradition, it is God’s call to discover our true selves.
“Pádraig, Aspal Éireann: guí orainn. Amen.”