After a long period of prayer and reflection, it is with deep sadness that I realize that as a matter of conscience, I will be unable to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City on March 17th.
Although I belong to five groups who march, and my first time marching was in 1981, for me to march this year would be to suggest that I somehow endorse or support the current leaders of this parade, and the direction in which they want to take it. (And before the single-issue people comment, I need to make clear that this is NOT about gay groups marching under their own banner.)
The affiliates have no voice in the running of the parade, and those elected to fill that office have been completely ignored and cut out. A few people have mortgaged the financial future of the parade to a long-term expensive television contract, and the influence of the representative of the Irish government has reached scandalous proportions. The parade leaders have simultaneously announced fund-raising triumphs at the same time they try to intimidate poor parishes and schools to paying “arrears” of fees that had been waived in past years.
The full list of the shameful and dubious actions of the parade leadership is too long to include here, but the bottom line is that in conscience, I cannot even peripherally be seen to be a part of what used to be a great event. With great sadness, I will watch the parade from the sidelines for the first time in over 40 years. I take no comfort in knowing that I will not be alone, that many others from whom I have heard are taking the same action.
I look forward to the day when the cabal of the few are replaced by the voice of the people, and when the culture and history and tradition of the Irish will replace the greed and power struggles of the “politically correct” triumvirate.
Fr. John R. Sheehan, SJ