St Patrick's Day Mass Returns to St Mary's Cathedral

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
13 Mar 2015

Irish Pipers at last year's St Patrick's Day Parade through the CBD

On St Patrick's Day next Tuesday, 17 March Sydney's Irish community and friends will once again mark the Feast of Ireland's Patron Saint with a Mass at St Mary's Cathedral.

The Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Terry Brady who like many of those expected to attend the Mass is of Irish heritage and a second generation Irish-Australian.

The Irish Community Choir will be part of the Mass and Irish dancers will bring up the offertory with as many as 600 expected to attend, including members of the Sydney's Irish National Association, the Gaelic Club, the Aisling Society, staff of the Irish Echo, Sydney's newspaper for the city's Irish. Many executives and CEOs of Irish businesses will be at the Mass along with the many men and women throughout Sydney who proudly trace their heritage back to an Irish grandparent ,great grandparent or all the way back to the First Fleet.

Sydney's annual St Patrick's Day Mass has been celebrated at St Mary's Cathedral for almost 30 years. But in 2014 in a break with tradition, the Mass took place at St Patrick's, Church Hill.

Bishop Terry Brady, Auxilary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Sydney will celebrate Mass at the Cathedral on St Patrick's Day

"We were a bit worried that numbers at the annual St Patrick's Mass were beginning to dwindle and Bishop Brady suggested the idea of moving the Mass to Church Hill. St Patrick's is much smaller but like the Cathedral has a long history. We also liked that St Patrick's took its name from Ireland's patron saint," explains Sandra Coogan who has helped organise the annual St Patrick's Day Mass for Sydney's vibrant Irish community since 1992.

Each year she organises the booklet for the service, the Irish Community choir to provide the music and contacts the wide range of Irish organisations to let them know details about the Mass ahead of time.

St Patrick's Church in the Rocks is one of the city's oldest

Dedicated in 1844, St Patrick's Church was the focus of worship for Irish Catholics during the days of colonial Sydney and seemed an ideal choice. But what no one counted on was the surge in numbers at last year's Mass which meant only 350 of the several hundred who arrived could be seated inside the Church. More than 200 others remained for the Mass but rather than being inside, were standing on the grounds outside.

So this year the St Patrick's Day Mass returns to the Cathedral and will be celebrated by Bishop Brady at 10.30 am on Tuesday, 17 March.

For many years the former Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Sydney, Limerick-born Bishop David Cremin presided at the St Patrick's Day Mass at the Cathedral, and continued to celebrate the annual Mass after his retirement in 2005. But in 2010 when Bishop Emeritus Cremin celebrated his 80th birthday, the Archdiocese's Irish-Australian Auxiliary Bishop, the Most Rev Terry Brady stepped in.

Last year even an Irish Wolfhound put on the green for the day during the St Patrick's Day Parade

This Sunday, 15 March, Sydney hosts its annual St Patrick's Day Parade complete with floats, kids dressed as leprechauns, Irish dancing along with Irish pipe bands. The parade begins  at 12 noon on the corner of Bathurst and Pitt Street making its way down to George Street and along to the Town Hall. From there  it heads north along Park Street to  Elizabeth Street and along Elizabeth Street to Market Street and St James Road. The parade finishes at Hyde Park's north entrance where a family day has been planned.

"The Sydney parade is always held on the nearest Sunday to St Patrick's Day but for Sydney's Irish Catholics, St Patrick's Day Mass is always held on the actual day, 17 March," says Sandra who is not only on the organising committee for the Cathedral's St Patrick's Day Mass but for many years was also on the organising committee for Sydney's St Patrick's Day Parade.

All are welcome to the Mass at St Mary's Cathedral on Tuesday at 10.30am