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Perth Irish Catholics honour St Patrick, tribute dearly departed

Several Irish groups of WA attended St Patrick’s Day Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 17 March 2021. Photo: Matthew Lau.

By Matthew Lau

Unable to return to their homeland to pay their respects for their departed loved ones in Ireland, this year’s St Patrick’s Day Mass was an opportunity for Perth Irish Catholics to pray for those they have lost this past year.

Monsignor Tim Corcoran celebrated the Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 17 March 2021 and was joined by his brother Father Jim Corcoran as the concelebrant.

More than 150 green-clad worshippers attended the event organised by Irish Families in Perth coordinator Eimear Beattie, in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Perth.

Consulate of Ireland WA representatives Marty Kavanagh and Richard Matias were present for the Mass as the special guests of honour.

Irish brother duo Monsignor Tim Corcoran and Father Jim Corcoran celebrated St Patrick’s Day Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on Wednesday 17 March. Photo: Matthew Lau.

In his homily for the occasion, Mgr Corcoran noted how Ireland's foremost patron saint was – and remains – highly cherished by Irish folks worldwide.

“This is the day when we as people thank God for St Patrick and for his coming among us to preach the Gospel,” he began.

Young dancers of The Crowns School of Irish Dancing attended St Patrick’s Day Mass on 17 March 2021 and performed a traditional Irish folk dance towards the end of the Mass. Photo: Matthew Lau.

“While St Patrick may not have been the first – and was certainly not the last – to announce the Christian message to the Irish, it is also true that we are indebted to him beyond measure for his role in that great enterprise.”

St Patrick’s mission to Éire, he added, was an extension of the mission Jesus Christ gave to his apostles.

“Right from the earliest of times, the Irish have always sought to spread the Gospel they received. Thousands of Missionaries have gone out from this small country to all parts of the world.

“The Gospel still needs to be preached, and it needs those who accept it. It is a great challenge to us all to be active, not passive, followers – not only to the receivers but also to the givers.”

About 200 people flocked to St Mary’s Cathedral for a special 10am Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 17 March to celebrate the Feast of Saint Patrick. Photo: Matthew Lau.

Christians have a positive role to play in the world, even though the world may not always welcome it, which, he said, Christians should not be shy or apologetic for.

“A certain boldness and courage are called for,” Mgr Corcoran suggested.

“There is a religion of devotion and a religion of commitment. A religion of devotion is a region of comfort and is often centred on self rather than on others. A religion of commitment is a religion of challenge, of risk, of unselfishness. A good life is a strong and effective witness and in itself a proclamation of the Gospel.

The Australian Irish Heritage Associated attended St Patrick’s Day Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 17 March 2021. Photo: Matthew Lau.

“So, I invite you to share in this Mass and go out to all the world and share the good news,” he concluded.

Irish Families in Perth spokesperson Fred Rea immigrated to Perth almost 50 years ago and has been an advocate for Irish immigrants of WA.

“Because if Covid, a lot of local Irish people have lost family in Ireland and haven’t been able to go back to pay their respects,” Mr Rea told The eRecord.

About 200 people flocked to St Mary’s Cathedral for a special 10am Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 17 March to mark St Patrick’s Day, the patron saint of Ireland. Photo: Matthew Lau.

The Republic of Ireland suffered the fastest and highest coronavirus spike in cases in the world earlier this year, leading to one of the most stringent lockdowns in Europe on 6 January.

The St Patrick’s Day Mass, he added, was also a chance to honour the thousands of Irish ladies who migrated to Perth in the 1850s from Irish workhouses following ‘An Gorta Mór (The Great Hunger) and subsequently kickstarted the Irish presence in WA.

“Irish have been coming to Australia ever since,” Mr Rea continued. The Irish Families in Perth is very much part of the Irish community of WA.”