The annual St. Patrick’s Day Mass at historic Most Holy Trinity Church in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, the historical bastion of Irish-Americans in Detroit, is mainstay for the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
On this St. Patrick’s Day, Archbishop Vigneron used the parish’s rich immigrant history to ponder what lessons today’s faithful can learn from the parish’s founders in regards to welcoming today’s immigrants and refugees.
“We find ourselves blessed on again this year to be at Most Holy Trinity Church for the celebration of the memorial of St. Patrick, the father in faith of the Irish people,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “I cannot help but remember the founders of this parish, the original band of Irish Catholics in our city. In thinking of them, we recall the desperate struggles of them to leave their beloved homeland, and the aspirations and hopes that brought them here to make this their new homeland, no less beloved.”
Archbishop Vigneron spoke of the early pastors of Holy Trinity, who led a congregation of newly-immigrated Irish Catholics to establish Holy Trinity parish as the bedrock of the Corktown Neighborhood, the oldest extant neighborhood in Detroit.
“An aspiration of mine this Lent is for us to consider the journey the founders of this parish went through, remembering their struggles and seeing the struggles others go through today,” said Archbishop Vigneron to the congregation, which included U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and other representatives from Metro Detroit’s political and judicial community.
The archbishop asked people at Holy Trinity to recall the proud history Irish immigrants have brought to the United States and the richness in culture immigrants have added to the nation.
“In these days, our elected leaders are addressing national concerns about immigration and refugee resettlement,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “In taking up these, admittedly difficult policy matters, they are rightly mindful of their duty to ensure public safety and the legal integrity of the civil order. But with an eye to the founders of this parish, I ask you to join me in reaffirming also the need for us and our leaders in this policy deliberations to keep faith with our noble heritage of welcoming the stranger to join us in welcoming the stranger to share with us the blessings that come from being a free people.”
Archbishop Vigneron, who also took the time to acknowledge two Detroit police officers who were shot in the line of duty this week, said the words on the Statue of Liberty read to “give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
“This daring invitation is not only a testimony to the generous solidarity that has made us a great nation,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “But it also articulates a bold confidence in the future that awaits all those who seek to be part of the American experiment of ordered liberty.”
Archbishop Vigneron recalled the struggles Irish immigrants experienced when coming to the United States, struggles the very founders of Most Holy Trinity Parish experienced.
“Today, this St. Patrick’s Day, let us make it our resolve that those who in good faith seek to immigrate to our country, or look to find here a refuge from violence, will not endure any like indignity but ultimately will be welcomed to make a contribution to the common good.”
The congregation gave the archbishop a standing round of applause at the end of the statement, leaving the archbishop to comment.
“So we’re agreed, we’ll work hard to get it right.”