By Tim Harfmann
It was a Saint Patrick’s Day celebration at the Brooklyn Catholic Academy bearing the name of the fifth-century saint. “He was the patron saint of Ireland,” said Grace Condon, a 4th grader. At Saint Patrick Catholic Academy in Bay Ridge, Irish eyes smiled as students stepped danced and sang along to traditional Irish music.
But the day was filled with more than just singing and dancing. Before the festivities, students attended a special Mass to honor Saint Patrick, who was known for converting the Irish to Catholicism, baptizing thousands into the Church and leading Ireland to becoming a mostly-Catholic country.
Father Greg McIlhenny ministers to Catholics at the Bay Ridge church and had a special challenge for the students; “Saint Patrick had a deep devotion of prayer to God, and that’s how we increase our lives. So, I’m challenging the kids this Lenten season to grow in that love for God and be more like Saint Patrick.”
Some students accepted the challenge, literally, dressing up as the saint for a look-alike contest. “Saint Patrick was a priest, then a bishop. Then, he taught Ireland about religion. And the king let him build churches everywhere,” said Matthew Keenan. He is a third grader and participated in the contest. “He taught people that there are three people in the three-leaf clover — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” said John Horan. He is a first grader and also participated. The contest ended in a tie.
For these students, it’s a celebration of fun and faith.