Since the early 17th century, St. Patrick’s Day has been an official feast day. The day commemorates St. Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, along with the heritage and culture of the Irish. While the celebrations have no doubt changed over the centuries, the fact that celebrations have undoubtedly occurred since the inception of this feast day cannot be denied. With this in mind, one can realistically look back and think 100 years ago a celebration for St. Patrick took place. Time passes, but traditions remain. While looking through the Maryknoll Distaff, a compiled history of the Maryknoll Sisters, I came across an entry about St. Patrick’s Day in 1917 and couldn’t help but smile as they revealed the specifics of how they celebrated this day 102 years ago.


It was “All Hail!” for there was rain and hail in abundance outdoors as well as in. On the 17th of March there was recreation, of course. After Mass no one was allowed in the refectory except a favored few, so that at breakfast a half grapefruit with a dainty green flag stuck in it decorated each place. At Sister Mary Patrick’s place was a bowl of greenery, green decorated ‘china’ and a green glass, a very good picture of St. Patrick, Mary Anthony’s cherished ribbon harp that came from Ireland, the usual mementos and pictures and book for her FA work, bound in green.

At dinner a funny letter from Father Patrick Byrne was read. He thanked the Teresians for the rosary which Mary Joseph had had Mary Gemma make for him. A picture of St. Patrick and a St. Patrick medal had accompanied the rosary. There was candy at dinner, the first since Lent began. Afterwards a package came from Charlotte Doelger containing two green plants, a shamrock-shaped pot of shamrock, and a clay pipe with shamrock growing from it, earmarked for Sister Mary Anthony.

Father Byrne brought Collie into the office to show off his holiday sash. It was a green ribbon with a skull and cross bones and the words ‘Every dog has his day’ artistically executed on it in white paint.

In the evening at recreation Sister Mary Anthony played her concertina and sang. Then ‘All praise to St. Patrick’ ended the day.”

Maryknoll Distaff 1917, p. 12