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Ethnic Pride, Community and Faith

This past Saturday was one of those full days of celebrating ethnic pride, community and faith.

Archbishop Listecki


Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
 

 

This past Saturday was one of those full days of celebrating ethnic pride, community and faith. March 10 began with a Mass at St. Patrick’s Parish in Milwaukee. This once-traditional home of the Irish community is now dispersed, but it is still active, with a vibrant Hispanic worshipping community.

Fr. Tim Manatt, S.J., the pastor, hosted the Shamrock Club, Ancient Order of Hibernians and various members of the Irish community at a morning Mass. It was only fitting that we would celebrate the Irish heritage with the spiritual foundation that is so much a part of Ireland’s history.

St. Patrick, credited with the conversion of Ireland, did so by instilling the love of Jesus and the need for evangelization. When you love a community of people, you want to share what is the very best for them. The very best was a commitment to the person of Jesus Christ in the Church. St. Patrick introduced his Irish charges to Jesus. They, in turn, became some of the greatest missionaries of the Church to the world.

It is impossible to separate the faith from Irish heritage and remain truthful to the full understanding of the Irish history. We were led into the Church to the strains of Irish bagpipes piping the tune of “Amazing Grace.” It was Amazing Grace that led the Irish to the community of Milwaukee, and their contributions to the development of our American democracy.

At the end of the Mass, I made my way to downtown Milwaukee for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, where I was fortunate to have been selected as the Grand Marshal. Now, then-Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan, certainly a Son of Ireland, was never selected as the Grand Marshal of the parade. He had all the required qualities: religious, gregarious, intelligent and loved to hoist a brew or two. Instead, they chose a somber, sober Polack. I know that he has to be Irish green with envy.

I rode in a 1976 Eldorado Cadillac convertible provided by Terrie and Frank Stangl. It was one of those old-fashioned, big beautiful monster cars that got 17 blocks to a gallon. As I waved to the crowd standing along the way, who were shouting my name and cheering me on, I realized that I could get a big head. However, what kept my head from swelling was the fact that no sooner did the little kids who were shouting my name with excitement, quickly stop to turn their attention to the candy being tossed at their feet by our archdiocesan staff. I realized that my popularity could be purchased or lost for a Tootsie Roll or Goobers. It was a great parade.

Later in the day, I made my way to the Milwaukee Theatre, where the Men of Christ was holding their annual conference. Some 2,800 men gathered to pray, participating in the sacraments, and learning about Christ and His Church. I have had the privilege of celebrating the closing Mass and addressing the gathering since my first year in Milwaukee. This is one of the largest – if not the largest – men’s gathering in our country. The Men of Christ committee works very hard all year-round to offer a quality presentation of speakers who encourage men to practice their faith and be living examples to their families. There were many men with their sons and grandsons present; what an inspiration to experience a day with grandpa or dad in prayer. To see your father in prayer, and pray with him, are memories that will last a lifetime.

My homily concentrated on the reason why Men of Christ is important. We need to be the champions, reclaiming our society in the name of God by witnessing Him in our communities. This organization says we are not alone, but stand together, proclaiming a truth that is universal. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish, but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Armed with this truth, we go forward at Mass, in parades and at conferences, in order to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Note: This blog originally appeared as the March 13, 2018 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.

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