PORTLAND — March 17 is the Feast Day of St. Patrick, one of the Church’s great evangelizing saints. It is a day that holds special significance in the Diocese of Portland because St. Patrick, along with St. Jean Baptiste, is a secondary patron of the Diocese of Portland, chosen because French missionaries and, later, French and Irish immigrants brought the Catholic faith to Maine and helped it take root and grow. St. Patrick Church in Newcastle was actually the first church in the country named for St. Patrick and has been in continual use longer than any other Catholic church in New England.

Here is a list of special celebrations set for around Maine (chronologically):

Saturday, March 12

Holy Family Church, located on 607 Sabattus Street in Lewiston, will host a St. Patrick’s Dinner on Saturday, March 12, at 5 p.m. It will feature corned beef, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, beverages, and dessert. There will also be live music. Tickets for the postponed dinner from 2020 will be honored. New tickets will be sold before and after Masses at the church and by calling Robert Michaud at (207) 740-6585.

Sunday, March 13

St. Benedict Parish, located at 1063 Benedicta Road in Benedicta, will host a St. Patrick’s Dinner on Sunday, March 13, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. It will be served dine-in or takeout and features potatoes, cabbage, carrots, turnips, onions, corned beef, baked ham, rolls, and dessert. All meals are $10 each. To order takeout dinners, call or text Anna Robinson at (207) 267-0586. All proceeds will benefit the parish.

Cape Elizabeth
A St. Patrick’s Day takeout lunch is being held at St. Bartholomew Church, located on 8 Two Lights Road in Cape Elizabeth, on Sunday, March 13, from noon to 1 p.m. Each meal will contain corned beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and Irish soda bread. The cost for each meal is $15. Please contact Angela Best at (207) 233-4216 or via email at bestn92@gmail.com to order a curbside pickup lunch. Orders are being accepted through March 7. Cash and checks (made payable to St. John Paul II Parish) will be accepted at the time of pickup on March 13.

Thursday, March 17

The Guild at St. Peter the Fisherman Parish in Machias will host a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner at the parish hall on Free Street on Thursday, March 17, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The dinner will include corned beef and cabbage and a Guinness chocolate cake for dessert. There will be fun and games for all ages. Tickets are $10 per adult, $5 per child, and kids 5 and under eat for free! Tickets will be sold at the door on the night of and online at www.stpeterthefisherman.me. Takeout dinners will also be available. For more information, contact the parish at (207) 255-3731.

The Shamrocks and the Knights of Columbus at St. Patrick Church in Newcastle will host their annual St. Patrick’s Day Community Dinner in Cheverus Hall on 380 Academy Hill Road on Thursday, March 17, at 6 p.m. Takeout options are available. Tickets are $17 for adults and $10 for students under 17. For more information, call (207) 563-3240.  

Bishop Robert Deeley will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on 307 Congress Street in Portland on Thursday, March 17, at 12:15 p.m. Bishop Deeley’s parents came to the U.S. from County Galway, Ireland. The Mass will also be available online at www.portlandcatholic.org/livestreamed-liturgies.

Saturday, March 19

The Bridgton/Fryeburg Knights of Columbus will host a corned beef supper on Saturday, March 19, at 5 p.m. at the St. Joseph Parish Hall on 225 South High Street in Bridgton. The cost is $15. Meals will also be available for takeout by driving to the side door of the parish hall immediately following the Saturday 4 p.m. Mass. Proceeds benefits the Knights’ many charities.

Old Town
The fourth degree Knights of Columbus from the Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord are planning an Irish supper for Saturday, March 19, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the hall of Holy Family Church on 429 Main Street in Old Town. The menu will include baked ham, potatoes, carrots, turnips, cabbage, and a pumpkin cobbler dessert. The price is $12 per person. Takeout is also available. To sign up, please call (207) 827-4000 or email padunnjr@hotmail.com or ajadba391@gmail.com.

The Knights of Columbus Council 101 is selling $100 raffle tickets for a St. Patrick’s Day Charity Raffle to benefit local charities with prizes ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. All of the proceeds go to charities. In recent years, beneficiaries have included Mercy Hospital, St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen, Salvation Army, and the Special Olympics. To purchase a ticket, call Ray DiDonato at (207) 831-3494. The drawing will be livestreamed on Saturday, March 19, at www.ladyofhopemaine.org.

Although he is the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick was actually born in Roman Britain in the fifth century. When he was a teenager, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. It was during this time, that he discovered his own faith, finding strength through his relationship with God. His enslavement lasted for six years until he had a dream in which he was told to escape by going by way of the coast. He successfully made it back to Britain, but after a few years, he had a vision in which a man came to him from Ireland and gave him a letter with the heading ‘”The Voice of the Irish.” In his spiritual autobiography, the Confessio, St. Patrick said that, at that moment, he heard the Irish people crying out, “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.” It led Patrick to further his education and study for the priesthood. He would later be ordained a bishop and was appointed as successor to St. Palladius, the first bishop of Ireland. St. Patrick spent the rest of his life bringing the Good News of the Gospel to the people of Ireland, which was a pagan country at the time. He is believed to have used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity, and the shamrock remains associated with the saint and the Trinity to this day. The prayer “Breastplate” is attributed to St. Patrick. It reads in part: “Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.” St. Patrick died on March 17, 461. He is now the patron saint of Ireland and is known as the Apostle of Ireland.