We find ourselves blessed once again this year to be in Most Holy Trinity Church for the celebration of the Memorial of St. Patrick, the father in faith of the Irish people. Like many of you, I cannot help but remember as well the founders of this parish, the original band of Irish Catholics in our city. In thinking of them, we recall the desperate struggles that led them to leave their beloved homeland and the aspirations and hopes that brought them here to make this their new homeland, no less beloved.
It is good to remember them and their history in these days when our elected leaders are engaged in addressing national concerns about immigration and refugee resettlement. 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. 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 these policy deliberations to keep faith with our noble heritage of welcoming the stranger to join us in sharing the blessings that come from being a free people.
The poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty asks the world to “give us their tired and poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free.” This daring invitation is not only a testimony to the generous solidarity that has made us a great nation, but it also articulates a bold confidence in the future that awaits all those who seek to be part of the American experiment in ordered liberty.
It is a shame that when the founders of Most Holy Trinity Church came to the United States, it was not uncommon to find signs that read: “Irish Need Not Apply.” Today, on 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 will be welcomed to make their contribution to the common good. So we’re agreed, we’ll work hard to get it right.