After careful consideration, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki has granted a dispensation for March 17 which lifts the obligation of abstinence from meat on Fridays during Lent so Catholics in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
“A feast day in the Church means what it says – it calls for celebratory feasting,” Archbishop Listecki said. “However, Catholics who partake in the St. Patrick’s Day feast are encouraged to engage in another sacrificial or charitable act that day or give up meat on another day.”
Catholics 14 and older are to abstain from meat on all Fridays of Lent, which began Feb. 22 this year, as an act of penance. Fasting from meat on these Fridays is one way Catholics partake in the three traditional pillars of Lenten observance of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
The Catholic Church assigns one date out of the year for each canonized saint — known as the saint’s feast day. The saints are remembered on their feast days, which are often timed with the date of their death, with special consideration at that day’s Masses and with other prayers.
“Saints such as St. Patrick provide us with marvelous role models and a means to pass on traditions from one generation to the next,” Archbishop Listecki said. “It’s also important that we deeply appreciate the connection from us as the Body of Christ on earth to the saints now in heaven.”
March 17 has been the official feast day of St. Patrick on the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar since 1631, but Irish people had been celebrating their beloved bishop since the 10th century.
The last time St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Lenten Friday, the Catholic News Agency reported that bishops of more than 80 dioceses around the United States – about half – granted a dispensation from fasting from meat. That was in 2017 and Archbishop Listecki was among those who granted a dispensation for the feast day that year.