Published February 14, 2008
This year, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day has officially been moved to an earlier date due to its occurrence in Holy Week. Last year Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory released a decree explaining the change, which states that since March 17 is on the Monday before Easter and feast days are customarily transferred to another date when they occur during Holy Week, the observance of the feast day of St. Patrick has been changed to March 14 in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
On Thursday, March 13, at 12:10 p.m., a Mass will be celebrated at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Atlanta, in honor of Father Thomas O’Reilly. Father O’Reilly served as pastor of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during the Civil War and is credited with arranging to save the downtown churches and Atlanta’s City Hall from the torch of General William T. Sherman and his forces.
The Mass will be followed by the annual laying of a wreath at the memorial for Father O’Reilly, which is located at the Old Atlanta City Hall at the corner of Washington Street and Mitchell Street.
Units from the Atlanta Fire Department, Atlanta Police Department, the Fire Emerald Society of Metro Atlanta and the Metropolitan Atlanta Police Emerald Society will be present for the laying of the wreath.
Msgr. Henry Gracz, pastor of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, is expected to share comments, and a special presentation by city officials is also scheduled.
Another Mass will be celebrated on Friday, March 14, at 10 a.m., in honor of St. Patrick. Archbishop Gregory will celebrate the Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta. A reception is scheduled to follow the liturgy.
The festivities wrap up on Saturday, March 15, with a St. Patrick’s Day parade. The parade will march through downtown Atlanta, ending at Underground Atlanta, where vendors, food and free entertainment will be available.
The parade, which is expected to draw a crowd of more than 365,000, is expected to be the largest St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival since the first parade in Atlanta in 1858.
The 2008 Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade will feature more than 200 units, including floats, bands, military units, bagpipe and drum corps, Irish dancers, clowns, high tech firefighting equipment, police units, drill teams, dogs, horses, antique cars, dignitaries from Ireland and Atlanta’s own government leaders, including honorary marshal Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.
The Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is located at 48 Martin Luther King Drive, SW, Atlanta. The Cathedral of Christ the King is located at 2699 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta.
For more information on St. Patrick’s Day related events, visit www.irishatlanta.com.