By Fr. Tom Hurley
Sunday, March 19, 2017
If you were one of the 2,500 who attended our Siamsa Na nGael concert this past Tuesday night at Chicago’s Symphony Center, I’m wondering if you’re still feeling as moved as I am? I’ve been around Old St. Pat’s full-time for the past 14 years (and 6 years prior to that as a weekend presider) and of the many Siamsa concerts I’ve attended, none of them impacted me as much as this one. For those who could not join us, I am so sorry you missed it. Titled A Bridge Over The Troubles: The Peacemakers, our concert this year focused on the peace process and the great work of John and Pat Hume, along with Senator George Mitchell who were able to bring both sides together to sign the Good Friday Peace Accord of 1998 in Northern Ireland. Written and created by our own Concert Director Bill Fraher and Irish Historian Mary Pat Kelly, the flow of music and dance, from rap to traditional Irish ballads, kept everyone in Symphony Center focused on this incredible moment in history. While the music was wonderful, no other concert captured me more than the presence and spoken testimony of Senator Mitchell. What an incredible man. To hear him tell the story of his experience of the day his son was born in the United States and then recalling with his wife the fact that 61 other babies were born the same day in Northern Ireland and what kind of future would they have in the face of ongoing violence and bloodshed brought a tear to many eyes this past Tuesday night. This year’s Siamsa was so poignant to the reality of our world today: we need to heal divisions, we need to celebrate diversity, peace and nonviolence are the only acceptable paths. While I am not in the canonization business, what I heard and witnessed the other day by Senator Mitchell gave me renewed hope in the effectiveness of great leaders who lead with their heart. Old St. Patrick’s Siamsa Na nGael 2017 was more than just an entertaining night of delightful music. It was a powerful message about the need to end violence in our world, to build bridges that bring people together, and to work tirelessly towards a peaceful resolution.
Thank you again, Bill Fraher, Mary Pat Kelly, Sheila Greifhahn, Susie Klein, Jo Ann O’Brien, Lauren Kezon, Lauren McCallick, Bea Cunningham, Katie Brandt, the great voices of our Old St. Patrick’s Concert Choir, our young friends at After School Matters, and the many instrumentalists, orchestra members, and dancers who filled Symphony Center with great hope the other night. And thanks especially to all of you for supporting the efforts and programs that help us form the Mission of Old St. Pat’s.
If you’re not into concerts, maybe you’re into running and/or walking! If so, could I indulge your attention in this brief article for another invitation to consider joining our Crossroads Runners? The snow will be melting soon and nicer weather is just around the corner. That means it’s time to get outside again and enjoy this great city we call Chicago. Several years ago, we formed the Crossroads Runners as another avenue to build some community among our many members and to help raise some necessary funds for our many social outreach efforts here on the campus of Old St. Pat’s. I was talking with someone the other day who told me he runs about 9 miles each week and that he could never do a marathon. I told him he was wrong and if he was running a total of 9 miles per week, you can do a marathon. Most of us will say, “I can never do it!” I remember saying that to myself back in the spring of 2006 and after some prodding and invitations by our Coach Brendan Cournane, and a summer of training which I thoroughly enjoyed, the next thing I knew I was crossing the finish line of the Chicago Marathon. I encourage those of you who enjoy running (and yes, even walking) to think about joining our Old St. Pat’s team. It’s a great feeling to be a part of a team and a wonderful opportunity to meet some new people.
The final invitation for today is related to HOLY THURSDAY. For many years, Old St. Pat’s hosted a combined mass and dinner to celebrate Holy Thursday. A few years ago, we changed the format and we are now hosting a dinner in the school gym BEFORE the mass in the church on Holy Thursday. It’s always a sell-out so I hope you’ll plan on joining us. I think the Holy Thursday liturgy is one of our most extraordinary gatherings of the entire year!
A lot happening around Old St. Pat’s these days. I am grateful to share this journey of faith with all of you.
Happy St. Joseph’s Day!!
Father Tom Hurley