By Jacqueline Delphin, Evan McCaffrey and Paige Carver
St. Patrick’s Day came early to Morgantown this year with the St. John University Parish Irish Bash. On March 3, the church held an event with music, food, and Irish beer including Guinness, Harp, and Killian’s Red.
Stewed Mulligan, a band described on their website as a “blend of the old backwoods sound with clever Country Rock to create music that could have been birthed in a basement by the illegitimate sons of The Band,” played Irish Celtic music for a lively audience, including an energetic Fr. Fred Byrnes, who delighted the crowd with an Irish jig.
The diverse crowd of students, adults, and children spent the night dancing and carrying on in celebration of Irish heritage. Dozens of raffle items, ranging from a basket of Guinness merchandise to Harley-Davidson luggage, waited on a table for the lucky winner.
This first-time event was organized as a fund-raiser for students and others to attend a 10-day trip to Ireland during the International Eucharistic Congress held in Dublin, Ireland from June 10-17.
It is an “educational event to inform the youth what’s going on in the church worldwide,” said Jonathan Meinster, a student and church member. “(It) instruct(s) us about church teaching and how the church teaching is pertinent in society today, because the world is constantly changing so you have to look at the church’s teaching through the lens of today. The event tries to give the youth of the world the tools to do that effectively.”
St. Johns Office Manager Candie Liston explains that the church alone cannot pay for
trips, such as community work in Jamaica and helping the poor at Bethlehem Farms located in southern West Virginia, and now the Ireland trip, so they must have fundraisers. Liston was satisfied with the success of the event and said that is was, “very fun and everyone had a great time with it.”
The local community including local business and church members stepped in to help by providing refreshments, raffle prizes, and other items.
In addition to the actual conference, the group will take a three-day bicycle trip across the country and explore Ireland. It is, “a pilgrimage. It’s a holy journey. We are not going as tourist we are going for a wholly sacred reason,” said Fr. Fred Byrnes. “In the travel we will meet god along the way and the people we encounter and our lives will be changed because a pilgrimage is a journey of prayer.”