Hartford area church opens for Mass once a year on St. Patrick's Day

Erin — Nearly every year for more than a century, Catholics in and around this rural town have gathered at this small church on St. Patrick's Day to invoke the lessons and blessings of the patron saint of Ireland.

Many feared the tradition might die in 1999 when the church closed its doors and the congregation merged with St. Kilian in nearby Hartford. Or again last year, when the Rev. David La Plante of St. Kilian was too ill to preside at the annual Mass.

But La Plante and the faithful returned to what is now St. Patrick Chapel again on Tuesday to celebrate the Eucharist and reflect on the missionary zeal of its fifth century namesake — at a time when all Catholics are being called to newly evangelize the faith.

"We use it as a celebration of the Irish," said La Plante, who called on worshippers to emulate St. Patrick's spirit of charity and mercy.

"But the mission is to the whole world. This mission of mercy and charity has to go out to everyone."

The annual Mass offers a prayerful alternative — or perhaps prelude — to the more raucous traditions of a holiday better known for free-flowing green beer than spiritual reflection. This year, about 200 worshippers filled the pews, many donning green attire or the woolen sweaters of the Aran Isles, with more than a few redheads in the mix.
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  1. Nice article. They should schedule more Masses there. It is a quaint church. I was there once for a wedding.

  2. I attended this Mass--it was beautiful--with a great mix of folks--families with kids, seniors and middle-aged folks. Such a beautiful way to start SAINT PATRICK'S DAY!


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