The celebration of the month of St. Patrick has come to an end.
The Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade was the final event of the observance of the patron saint of Ireland. Like the other parades, the day began with Mass, this one at St. Patrick’s Church with its new pastor, Msgr. Michael Hardiman, delivering an insightful homily on Irish spirituality.
Parade chairman Frankie Marra promised this would be the second largest Irish parade in the city, and it lived up to its billing. With pipers, parishioners and pageantry, the march made its way along Third Avenue for a mile and a half as residents filled the sidewalks along the way.
New to the Bay Ridge event this year were floats that carried Catholic school students and the members of the Moloney family, the parade’s “Family of the Year.” Marra also announced that next year the committee would begin awarding scholarship money to students in local Catholic schools.
“The attendance is phenomenal. Bay Ridge really supports this parade,” said Marra. “We have the biggest bands – the New York Police Emerald Society, the Fire Department, Sanitation and Clan Eireann.”
Transit Police Chief Joseph Fox led the parade as grand marshal. He was ably assisted by deputy marshals Mary Kay Higgins, Catherine Toolan Gearity, Danny Woods, Kevin Fay, Cathy Harkin, Denise Benardello-Frederick and Brian Cassidy. All worthy honorees!
Proud of his Irish heritage, Chief Fox pointed out that “the Irish people bring to policing what all people bring to lives of service – care and compassion for helping others.”
As the month of celebrations came to a conclusion, Catholic League President Bill Donohue promised that Guinness’ decision not to support this year’s New York Parade would not be forgotten. He called for a boycott of Guinness, Heineken and Samuel Adams beer as a way of responding to the brewers’ slap at the Catholic faith.
Guinness et al. pulled their support at the last minute under pressure from gay and lesbian groups who claim that they are being discriminated against because they cannot wave their banners in the parade.
Donohue has asked the Gay Pride Parade to admit him to its line of march with banners of his own proclaiming his heterosexuality. He was denied unless he attends some gay pride training sessions, which he says he has no intention of doing.
But it just proves the point that every group is entitled to practice its beliefs as long as it brings no harm to the larger community. New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, being a Catholic event, has the right to stand by its faith principles.
It’s helpful to repeat once again that people who identify themselves as gay are not prevented from marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The only thing banned is any kind of banner identifying opposition to Church teaching.
The plethora of St. Patrick’s parades in New York City is a source of continued ethnic and religious pride.
Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, chaplain to the Bay Ridge parade, pointed out that “this parade is a family celebration of our faith and our neighborhood.”
The Irish, and anyone else who wishes to join, celebrate their homeland and their faith. Thank God that in America, that’s still permitted!