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Q&A on St. Patricks Day

Q: What does your school focus on in celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?
A: (St. Anne) We celebrate it from a Christian and immigrant point of view.
A: (UMC) It is always a highlight of our year to celebrate the importance of St. Patrick spreading Christianity. We read stories about St. Patrick and teach the children that St. Patrick preached and taught the people in Ireland about Jesus.

Q: What are some fun facts about St. Patrick?
A: (St. Anne) He was born in 389 and he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. That’s how he ended up going to Ireland, as a slave. He was still in slavery for several years. He said he still did not know the true God. As he grew older, he began to have a deep devotion and love of God. After escaping back to his homeland, St. Patrick lived in a monastery for about 15 years as he prepared to go back to Ireland as a priest and bishop. He had a burning desire to go back to Ireland, even though he was treated terribly and was a slave while there. He wanted to go back and work for God because the area was totally pagan. After years of St. Patrick fasting, praying and teaching, Ireland was fertile ground for the Catholic Church. It remained a Catholic nation for well over a millennium.

Q: What does your school do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
A: (UMC) We do lots of “green” arts and crafts leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. We then celebrate by having our annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, where the children bring a decorated vehicle such as bicycle, tricycle, etc. to ride or push. We finish our celebration with green punch and cookies.
A: (St. Anne) My dad, Bob O’Neill, told us growing up that a leprechaun named Casey O’Neill followed his dad over in the boat. He would always play tricks on St. Patrick’s eve. I brought that story to the preschool and we have fun with it. We paint a box green, orange and white, the colors of the Irish flag. Then, we try to lure Casey O’Neill with Lucky Charms and “gold.” The next day, the kids will look in the box and see little green footprints.

Q: What is the significance of the green clover?
A: (UMC) The children are taught about the Trinity with the shamrock. The three leaves stand for God the Father, Jesus the Son; and the Holy Spirit.

Q: Why is St. Patrick’s Day important to Savannah?
A: (St. Anne) Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is so big due to the huge number of Irish that immigrated here. They first came to work off their debt to King George in the 1830s and 1840s. Later, after the 1845 Potato Famine that devastated 1/3 of the entire potato crop in Ireland, more immigrants came to avoid starvation. They were so grateful to their patron, St. Patrick, they began to honor him on his feast day, March 17, by parading through the streets of Savannah and ending up at the cathedral to attend and celebrate mass in his honor. There is a huge statue of St. Patrick in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the only cathedral in Savannah. The immigrants built the Cathedral.

Q: Is the church still involved with the St. Patrick’s Day parade?
A: (St. Anne) St. Patrick’s Day has become extremely secular. However, Irish Catholics start the day with mass and the bishop kicks off the parade after mass has ended. Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day means something very different to people like me who are really moved by the true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day.

Q: How did Irish immigrants make a difference in founding Georgia?
A: (St. Anne) Irish immigrants built most of South Georgia. There is still a huge Irish Catholic population in the area. They founded many cities like Dublin and Fitzgerald.

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