St. Patrick’s Day has special meaning for Erin
Prayer service in historic chapel kicks off festivities
By JILL BADZINSKI
For the Daily News
TOWN OF ERIN — Just as St. Patrick made pilgrimages, so
do those who return each year to the Catholic chapel named in his honor.
About 30 people attended a 30-minute morning prayer
service Saturday to celebrate St. Patrick's Day at St. Patrick’s Chapel.
“It was beautiful,” said Maureen Fitzsimmons-Vanden
Heuvel. “It’s so special to celebrate St. Patrick's Day here and to get
to worship in this beautiful building. I cry every time I am in here.”
It was the first time since St. Patrick Church became a
chapel in 1999 that a Mass was not held in it exactly on St. Patrick’s
Day. That decision was made because St. Patrick's Day fell on a Sunday
this year, and Mass was held at St. Kilian Church in Hartford, which
merged with St. Patrick. A Celtic celebration was also held at St.
Kilian on Sunday.
The chapel is now only occasionally used for special
services and on St. Patrick's Day.
Gene and Anita Schaefer of Hartford attended St. Patrick
for 10 years before it closed.
“St. Patrick’s Day was the biggest day of the year for my
dad,” Anita Schaefer said, “so we love this church.”
Anita Schaefer said her great grandfather helped build
the altar at the church, which opened in 1842.
“We like to come back here,” she said.
Celebrating Mass and prayer services at the church is
also a treat for the celebrant, said the Rev. David LaPlante, pastor at
St. Kilian. LaPlante led the service with assistance from the Rev. Wally
Vogel, who had been pastor at St. Patrick from 1996-99.
“If you can't be in Ireland (for St. Patrick's Day), at
least you can be at St. Patrick's (chapel), LaPlante said.
LaPlante spoke of the saint's commitment to living
according to the gospel, and urged attendants to do the same. However,
although many Catholics are fasting during Lent, LaPlante offered a
chance to feast in the namesake's honor by serving two large trays of
green and white cookies.
“This chapel has great meaning to those who come back
here each year on St. Patrick's Day,” LaPlante said. “I am happy I can
worship with them at this special time.”