In this week’s blog Fr Paddy tells us that as St Patricks Day evokes a sense of belonging so too willVolunteerism give us the positive energy that makes our communities a living vibrant place where we feel valued and connected with.

Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist Papers.

This column appeared in the edition published 17th March 2010

This week we have celebrated our national holiday. It is marvelous to witness the gifts and talents that are made visible at local parades in all our towns and villages. There is a positive sense of vibrancy and enthusiasm when we see our local clubs, drama groups and associations celebrating their important role in our society. St Patricks Day evokes a sense of belonging as we are proud of our identity. The millions of Irish Diaspora throughout the world are wonderful ambassadors, telling the real story of our resilience, spiritual and confident optimism. Irish culture is very rich in its colour, flavor, music and tradition, it is this brand that makes many other nations very attracted to the charm and wit of our Irish charisma.

In a time of testing and great burden for so many, this is a time to take stock of our very rich and resilient history. Many generations previous to us have had to overcome immense hardship and great difficulty. We were once a people held in captive, greatly burdened by discrimination and injustice. Our heritage is a celebration of how the human spirit can overcome fear and hostility and in doing so achieve great things.

St Patrick himself personifies our story. Captive and impoverished his story empathizes with all who are burdened by disadvantage, poverty and unemployment. His consolation was revealed to him in the beauty of the Irish landscape, as it was on a mountain, where he felt his God nourishing him with a renewed confidence that all would be well. His missionary spirit was motivated by his rich spirituality, Patrick felt the joy of being set free. He appreciated the smooth waters of peace and clam after enduring the storm clouds of burden and uncertainty.

Patricks Spirituality is one of a rich personal friendship with his God. He appreciated that God is present at every moment in our life. God is with us step by step, day by day. He beautifully tells the story of God awakening in the morning with us and remaining with us patiently at all times.

These are difficult times when the clouds are grey for so many, yet this is also a time of great hope when we consider the huge sacrifices generously made by parents every day as they nurture their family with love and stability.

The spirit of volunteerism continues to be a source of light and hope. Volunteerism responds to the needs of others and nurtures gifts and talents and we all benefit because of the kindness of others. Responding to the needs of others is a noble endeavour that enhances the quality of life for our young and old. Being a volunteer is a good thing, it is positive and allows us to make a difference. It’s cost is our time, our generosity, our energy. Volunteerism will bring us to a place of fulfillment and contentment. This is the positive energy that makes our communities not just a location but a living vibrant place where we feel valued and connected with.

May the light of St. Patrick bless and protect us.