Parades and parties.  Corned beef and green beer. Even a river-turned-green in Chicago. In the midst of our revelry, let us not forget the remarkable man of faith whose life we celebrate today. Kidnapped from his home in Britain at age 16, and enslaved in Ireland for 6 years before slipping back to his native land, Patrick experienced God in profound ways, even during the most harrowing of times, and felt the call to priesthood. With the prophet Daniel, no doubt Patrick could acclaim, “Lord, great and awesome God, you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you and observe your commandments!”

Missioned back to Ireland, and often in the midst of fierce hostility, Patrick established the faith, fanned its flames across the island and, as Luke’s gospel bids us today, served as an apostle of mercy and forgiveness. In the bold, courageous spirit of St. Patrick, may we, too, witness to the powerful presence of Jesus with tender mercy and gentle forgiveness.

—Fr. David O’Mastrangelo, S.J. is superior of the Taylor St. Jesuit community, Chicago, and director of Mission and Identity at Christ the King Jesuit High School, Chicago.