Mark Dempsey & the Columbus Shamrock Club
Mark Dempsey and the Columbus Shamrock Club is inducted into our Hall of Shame because of their actions and attitudes about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day during Holy Week in defiance against the Bishop. The Associated Press reported the following on February 20th, 2008:
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — That famous saint named Patrick will have his green-drenched party this year, but it’s unclear when the guests are supposed to arrive. For the first time since 1940, St. Patrick’s Day will fall during Holy Week, the sacred seven days preceding Easter. Because of the overlap, liturgical rules dictate that no Mass in honor of the saint can be celebrated on Monday, March 17, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. But a few Roman Catholic leaders are asking for even more moderation in their dioceses: They want parades and other festivities kept out of Holy Week as well. … But in Columbus, the Shamrock Club is going ahead with its March 17 parade, drawing protests from the local bishop. A handful of Irish-American politicians have lined up behind church leaders, breaking with tradition by refusing to march in the parade. In a letter last fall, the Catholic Diocese of Columbus told the Shamrock Club, the group that organizes the parade, that Bishop Frederick Campbell wanted all observances honoring St. Patrick – religious or otherwise – removed from Holy Week. It’s not a sin to celebrate your Irish culture, countered Mark Dempsey, the club’s president. Actually, you’re born Irish first, he said, and then you’re baptized Catholic.
Here is our open letter to Mr. Dempsey and the Shamrock Club:
Dear Mr. Dempsey: I have just read reports that the Shamrock Club in Columbus intends to conduct St. Patrick’s Day festivities on March 17th during Holy Week. It is reported that you said, It’s not a sin to celebrate your Irish culture and Actually, you’re born Irish first, and then you’re baptized Catholic. Mr. Dempsey, it is true that it is not a sin to celebrate one’s culture, but one's culture does not outrank Christ and His Church. As to being born Irish first, actually Mr. Dempsey, God created you His child BEFORE you were born Irish and yet you wish to dishonor your Creator by these actions. We need to remember that without the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord there would be no St. Patrick. No Saint is to be placed above our Lord. Holy Week is a special and sacred time that is to focus on preparation and celebration of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection. It is not a time for celebration of Saints. This issue can easily be resolved — move the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day to March 14th, for example. The sacredness of March 17th does not outrank the sacredness of Holy Week. In fact, Mr. Dempsey, I would suggest that in spirit and attitude, if not in literal fact, the actions of the Shamrock Club are tantamount to a sin against the First Commandment. I encourage you, Mr. Dempsey, to show courage in this situation and not an immature defiance. Show the world your respect and love of our Lord Jesus Christ that is above St. Patrick and move your celebrations outside of Holy Week as St. Patrick himself would want. St. Patrick would never approve of what you are doing. He would tell you to place Christ above him and to obey the Church. Traditionally the Irish culture loves the Church and respects the Church and loves our Lord. Celebrate that bit of Irish Culture. Sincerely yours in Christ, Bro. Ignatius Mary, OLSM+ChancellorOrder of the Legion of St. Michael