Saturday, March 17, 2007

Patsmas Joy... and Grief

To the children of Eire scattered across the sod o' the earth, a blessed and happy St Patrick's Day.

For what it's worth, it'd normally be more blessed and happy here in the East if we weren't digging out from a freak snow and ice storm yesterday.... So much for the rite of spring, clearly, but the 246th parade has stepped off in New York. And the photo above comes from Savannah, Georgia, another venerable Irish settlement that's home to the US' second-largest parade -- now in its 184th year.

(Trivia for you: such is Savannah's Irish cred that it's got an FBI bishop, the Cork-bred Kevin Boland... whose brother, Bishop Raymond Boland, led the diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph until his retirement in 2005... and the diocese of Birmingham before that... which is currently awaiting a new bishop... but won't be waiting much longer.)

...and, yes, the Chicago River went green again. Viz:

Yet, for all that, one bit of news in the paper this morning was especially hard to believe. It's not raining here, but the word was enough to put a damper on the day.

Seemingly since time immemorial here in the River City, the Irish community has been nourished and championed by its longtime chief chaplain, Fr Kevin Trautner, whose silver jubilee as a priest was honored with his turn as grand marshal of the city's St Patrick's Day Parade in 1999.

Two days after marching in Philadelphia's parade, Fr Trautner died of a heart attack at 59 on Tuesday. In a stroke of timing that'd be incredible if it weren't so heart-rending, the faithful gathered and the pipes swilled at his suburban parish on this St Patrick's Day, not to mark the feast Trautner loved so much, but his Mass of Christian Burial.

May the choirs of angels lead him into Paradise... and all the harps of Heaven be strumming at full tilt.

PHOTO 1: AP/Stephen Morton
PHOTO 2: Reuters/John Gress