For the first time in six years, St. Patrick’s Day is intersecting with a Friday in Lent and many local Church leaders have opted to give Catholics that day off of abstaining from meat.
Originating from the Feast of St. Patrick, the holiday falls on March 17 every year, said to be the day the patron saint of Ireland died. Beyond the religious significance, the holiday is more commonly known for its partying, parades and recognition of all things Irish, including cabbage, corned beef and beer.
So how are Catholics supposed to reconcile the holiday traditions with their Lenten obligations?
According to countless dioceses around the country — including in New York — the corned beef wins out this year.
What have dioceses in New York said about eating meat on St. Patrick’s Day this year?
Earlier this month, the Archdiocese of New York — which includes Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island and seven neighboring counties — announced a special dispensation to eat meat on Friday of St. Patrick’s Day.
Bishop Robert Brennan of the Diocese of Brooklyn followed with a dispensation of his own on Wednesday. His diocese also includes Queens.
The dioceses of Buffalo, Ogdensburg, Rochester, Rockville Centre and Syracuse have all offered their own dispensations, with guidance ranging from substituting a different day to abstain from meat or taking on an additional charitable act. The diocese of Albany is the only diocese in the state to not issue a dispensation…yet.
Canon law points to one explanation for the discrepancy. According to America Magazine, if St. Patrick is the patron saint of a diocese — as he is in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and others — his feast day is considered a solemnity, which takes precedence over the tradition of abstaining from meat.
Despite having one of the biggest St. Patrick’s day celebrations and a large Irish population, Chicago is not among the dioceses that claim St. Patrick as their patron saint.
When was the last time St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday?
It’s been six years since St. Patrick’s Day last fell on a Friday so it might be easy to forget, but the upcoming dispensation isn’t that groundbreaking.
In 2017, at least 80 of the nearly 200 dioceses around the country gave the OK to enjoy corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day during a Friday in Lent, according to Time Magazine.
Among those in the tri-state area supporting an exemption back in 2017 were New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the diocese of New York, Brooklyn, Rockville Centre and Newark.