Across the world this weekend, revelers will mark St. Patrick’s Day. They will eat corned beef and cabbage. They will bake Irish soda bread and maybe (probably?) head to a local pub. In some towns, they will even turn fountains green!
So how does a holiday with such a festive reputation connect with our mission? Well, all that celebration on St. Patrick’s Day honors a man who was courageous above all else in following God’s call to reach out and change the world. And that is a call each of us can follow by volunteering for Catholic Charities.
A Brief History of St. Patrick
St. Patrick was born somewhere in the British Isles – possibly Scotland, England or Wales. His family must have had some wealth and status. His father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest. They also had slaves and vassals.
It was along with these servants that Patrick was captured by a group of Irish raiders when he was 16. They whisked him back to Ireland and sold him as a slave. After 6 years of tending his master’s sheep, Patrick absconded to a port where in a vision he saw a ship about to set sail.
On his return trip home, Patrick spent some time in France, including in a French prison. It was there he learned about the monastic life and first envisioned himself as a servant of God.
A self-described sinner who lacked faith, Patrick felt a tug toward God on every leg of his life’s journey. His movement toward God culminated when, after being consecrated a bishop at age 43, he had a vision that called him back to Ireland. He understood he was being called to evangelize the people of Ireland.
The Luck of the Irish, The Courage of Saint Patrick
Imagine the courage Patrick must have had! He responded to a call to return and live among the very people who captured and enslaved him.
In the face of his daunting call, Patrick committed to his work and imprinted the island with a deep and enduring Catholic faith. He brought the Gospel to regions that had not heard it before. Patrick gathered converts, ordained priests and erected churches. So vibrant was the church he established that he had to divide Ireland into dioceses.
The Courage to Volunteer
Like Patrick, each of us often hears God asking us to serve. Sometimes, our service requires us to face our fears. Fear of the homeless, the poor, the immigrant and the hungry. Fear of stepping outside whatever comfort zone we have demarcated separating us and them.
And like Patrick, we also know we can bring God’s kingdom alive when we take a risk, erase our boundaries and respond to uncomfortable callings.
This St. Patrick’s Day, we invite you to volunteer in some new way that may leave your imprint on Eastern Washington. We have several upcoming opportunities to volunteer.
1) Spring Cleanup Day on April 13! Join our Senior Services program for one of our biggest volunteer opportunities of the year. Volunteers will travel to homes of seniors throughout the region to help rake leaves and do other outdoor yard cleanup. Gather at St. Aloysius Church’s O’Malley Hall at 8:30 a.m. for coffee and pastries. Then travel to a senior’s home to help them cleanup. Volunteers must bring their own transportation. Please feel free to bring yard tools if you have them.
2) Rising Strong needs help sorting donations! Our new program at the former Convent of the Holy Names needs to sort donations for the new cohort of families arriving this spring. Individuals and groups can volunteer for 2-3 hour shifts. You may sign up for a single shift or multiple days.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Catholic Charities!