The weekend is almost here — and it’s St. Patty’s Day! As Christians, we celebrate his feast day on March 17, the date of his death. The story is that Patrick was born a Christian in the British Isles and was kidnapped by pirates at the age of 16. He was taken to Ireland, which at that time was a pagan country. During his time in slavery, his faith deepened. He escaped later at the age of 22 and returned home where he became a priest and then a bishop. He returned to Ireland and converted the pagan country to Christianity over a period of 30 years. He is accredited with the conversion of this entire country!
In Pittsburgh, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with a parade downtown, followed by bar hopping and drinking green beer that goes all day long and into the evening. Last year Tom and I made the mistake of going to the Rivers Casino after 5:00 pm mass on Saturday evening. Everyone was totally tripped out with green hair, green duds, big plume green hats, green beads, green blinking necklaces, green glow sticks and green jewelry — total drunken craziness. These people had been drinking since the morning parade and they were completely wasted. Now, I’m always looking to celebrate, but I prefer to do something with a little less hangover (at my age anyways) the next day. I’m not that 20-something crowd anymore. I’m not even that 30-something crowd! Of all the holidays, though, St. Patrick’s Day is one of those that always make me smile, because my Irish friends always go all out!
Last week, we went to St. Bonaventure Catholic School’s 3rd Annual Luck of the Irish Cash Bash with our good friends Tracy and Donnie. Their children go to school there and Tracy volunteers so much of her time to the school. We always look for the opportunities to support Catholic functions and it’s a bonus that we can spend time with them! I have to say, I was blown away by this event (especially with it being only in it’s third year)!
Now this is the way to celebrate St. Patrick — with a Catholic school fundraiser. He would have thought so, anyways, right? The theme was perfect for giving away loads of cash. The best part about this event was that it brought together over 500 people in one place as a community to support one goal — the Catholic school for their children.
At one point, I looked around the gymnasium where there were probably more than 350 or 400 people in this room alone (the event was held in the gym and the cafeteria). The room was an absolute roar of noise and everyone was having a fantastic time. Every 15 minutes they were giving away $100 or $300 on the hour. People were screaming in celebration as they won money on raffles and strip tickets — at the craps table or the chuck-a-luck wheel. The 50/50 raffle gave away over $1,200 alone! There were silent auction items and at least 20 raffle baskets — donated by various people and organizations. The food was a endless buffet of breaded chicken, creamy scalloped potatoes, rigatoni, veggies (that I of course skipped), pulled pork, salads and more. The beer and soda was free flowing the entire night.
I won $60 right off the bat on a strip ticket. I of course spent it back that night and then some — but that’s what we were there for. I was buying the strip tickets, because I knew what they were from our bingo. All of the people around me kept asking how to play and what to do. Everyone was winning left and right — it was truly an Irish Cash Bash and the whole room was absolutely basking in God’s light.
I applaud the volunteers — and there were a lot of them. I know Tracy spent countless hours there. These people do it for their school and their church, because they want to spend their free time furthering the legacy of their school that ultimately teaches their children to believe — St. Patrick would approve.
While there were no children at the event, they were present all around us — having created all the artwork that plastered the walls of the cafeteria and gymnasium. They made all kinds of Irish things, but the best was a giant rainbow made up by the colored hand prints of each student in the school. It was beautiful — of course it was Tracy’s job to hang every single handprint. I couldn’t help but think about Heaven is For Real book with all the reference to Coltin’s rainbows in Heaven. There were rainbows all over the walls. I believe just another sign that God was very much present at this event.
It was a wonderful evening and a surely a successful fundraiser — after all, how could it not be with St. Patrick looking down upon them?
So here’s to another year in celebration of St. Patrick! And while some people don’t really know why they are celebrating St. Patrick (they just show up for the party) — it’s still a day where many Christians are all focused on a very important saint, unaware that they are really furthering his life’s work.