SCRANTON – It took 923 days in all – but the Saint Patrick’s Parade Day Mass finally returned to the Cathedral of Saint Peter on Sept. 18, 2021.

“We give thanks for the great blessing of faith that has sustained us since we last gathered,” the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, said in welcoming the crowd to the special 10 a.m. Mass which preceded the 59th annual Saint Patrick’s Parade in Scranton.

The Electric City’s last Saint Patrick’s Parade was held on March 9, 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the parade in March 2020 and led to it being pushed back six months this year.

“In so many respects, the message of the saint whom we honor today couldn’t be more timely and meaningful to our lives,” Bishop Bambera noted. “We’ve faced uncertainty and fear, loneliness and pain, and for some of us sickness and the grief that comes from loss, all because of a once-in-a-century pandemic.”

The bishop continued, “I’d suggest that we’ve also come to understand something that Saint Patrick learned centuries ago when he walked the green hills and valleys of Ireland. For all that we are capable of controlling and determining through our expertise, our ingenuity and our determination, none of us can ultimately control life and death. That is left to a power bigger than ourselves – a power we know as God.”

Members of the Saint Patrick’s Parade Association of Lackawanna County, Society of Irish Women, Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish American Men’s Association, Irish Cultural Society and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians all attended the Mass and listened to the bishop’s message which emphasized the faith that is celebrated.

“For all of the challenges of life and the struggles that we face in our families, neighborhoods, our Church and our world – especially in the midst of a global health crisis – this day taps the roots of faith that were planted in the hearts of the people of Ireland. It celebrates our shared belief that God is with us, carrying us through life – not a life free from pain nor a life unfamiliar with storms and upheaval – but a life that ultimately brings us to peace,” Bishop Bambera said.

The bishop encouraged those gathered to look at one of the stained glass windows on the side of the Cathedral of Saint Peter that features an image of Saint Patrick teaching the people of Ireland.

“He wasn’t telling them that if you prayed, you’d never have a cross to carry or a burden to bear. He wasn’t telling them that if you have faith, you’ll get everything you ask for and more,” Bishop Bambera explained. “He was telling them that if you have faith, you will be able to weather every storm that comes your way with a sense of peace, knowing that God walks with you.”

As his homily concluded, the bishop reminded those in attendance that God’s love sustains us during challenges times and reminds us that we have a responsibility to care for one another.

“May the great Saint Patrick guard you wherever you go, guide you in whatever you do, and may his loving protection be a blessing to you always,” the bishop ended with.