Cardinal Dolan to Offer St. Patrick’s Day Mass at Cathedral;  Virtual Parade Celebration Honoring First Responders, Essential Workers

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The 2021 New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be a virtual and television celebration honoring first responders and essential workers and acknowledging the upcoming 20th anniversary of 9/11 as parade officials begin to plan for what may be the biggest parade ever in 2022.

A St. Patrick’s Day Mass will be celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 17. Cardinal Dolan will be the principal celebrant, and Bishop William Murphy, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, will deliver the homily. Bishop Murphy led the Long Island diocese from 2001 to 2016.

“St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the heart of the parade in my opinion. It’s our spiritual home,” Sean Lane, chairman of St. Patrick’s Day Parade Inc. board of directors, told CNY.

There are no tickets still available to attend the Mass, which will be televised live by Catholic Faith Network (CFN) and may be viewed on St. Patrick’s Cathedral’s website, saintpatrickscathedral.org.

“When we go to Mass before we start the parade, it instills in all of us the roots of the parade, which was a parade and still is a parade to honor St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland and the Archdiocese of New York,” said Hilary Beirne, the parade’s chief administrator. 

“That is very very near and dear to us, and Cardinal Dolan, I have to say, has been very gracious to the parade. We are so delighted that he continues to partner with the parade in so many ways of helping us ensure the values and traditions of the parade continue into the future.”

In the early morning hours of March 17, 2020, a small parade contingent marched behind the St. Patrick’s Day Parade banner without spectators due to the rising Covid-19 pandemic to continue the tradition of the annual event dating to 1762.

Officials are hopeful of having a similar small march for this year’s 260th edition of the parade.

Parade officials are also working with CFN to present “St. Patrick’s Day Parade Presents: A Tribute to First Responders and Essential Workers” that will be televised by CFN at 5 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day. WNBC-4 will also air a 30-minute show on the parade at 7 p.m. on March 17.

A one-hour virtual parade will stream on Facebook and nycstpatricksparade.org featuring photographs of past parade participants, music, Irish entertainment, interviews, and greetings from Cardinal Dolan, parade leaders and political leaders from Ireland and the United States.

Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen, vicar for clergy in the archdiocese, is being honored in the parade’s first-ever honor guard of first responders and essential workers.

James Callahan will serve as the grand marshal for a second consecutive year, and is expected back for a third time in 2022, when parade officials are planning to resume normal parade festivities with marchers and spectators lining Fifth Avenue from 44th Street, past St. Patrick’s Cathedral, to 79th Street. 

Parade officials are expecting the 2022 parade to be as big as the one following 9/11 in 2002, which had an estimated 300,000 marchers and 3 million spectators. The parade, which honored the heroes of 9/11, paused at midday as marchers and spectators faced downtown to remember 9/11 as the grand marshal, Cardinal Edward Egan, said a prayer for the victims of 9/11. 

“I would say next year will be the biggest parade in history,” Lane said.  “People miss the parade terribly. Some people have marched in the parade for 70-plus years, and they passed it down to the next generation. 

“It’s a big deal. It’s really a sacred tradition for everybody.”

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