Mother of Good Counsel students listen intently as Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan and principal Regina Shaw, read “The Story of St. Patrick” to them recently. Archbishop Dolan wrote the book’s foreward and encourages people to get to know more about the fifth century saint and also encourages closer ties between Wisconsin and the Saint Patrick Centre in Northern Ireland. (Submitted photo)
Full color illustrations share the life of St. Patrick in “The Story of St. Patrick,” a book for children published with the support of the Milwaukee Irish Fest Foundation, the Hibernian Foundation of Milwaukee, William Ryan Drew and Callen Construction. (Submitted illustration courtesy the Friends of Saint Patrick,Inc. – Milwaukee Chapter)
Book teaches life of St. Patrick
Special to Parenting
MILWAUKEE - For children with Irish blood, or who wish they had some, the recently published book, "The Story of St. Patrick," brings to light one of the most misunderstood saints among Catholics. While he is one of the most celebrated, he is also one of the least appreciated.
Written by members of the Saint Patrick Centre in Northern Ireland, the original storybook is used in their cross border education program and teaches children the true story of St. Patrick. Revered as the apostle of Ireland, St. Patrick was born in Britain sometime during the fifth century. At 16, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and brought to Ireland where he lived as a slave.
Six years later, he escaped and returned to his family in Britain. He became a priest and after hearing God's call, returned to Ireland where he spent the rest of his life serving his former captors, preaching the Gospel and instituting many churches.
His story of faith, forgiveness and loyalty touched the heart of Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan on a trip to Ireland in 2006. In the book's foreward, he wrote that he made a special trip to visit St. Patrick's grave and the Saint Patrick Centre in Downpatrick, County Down.
"I was most impressed by the wonderful and unique way in which Patrick's story was told at the Centre and how the saint's message of reconciliation and Christian unity was having an impact on the peace process in Northern Ireland," he wrote. "Since that time, I have encouraged links between Wisconsin and the Centre, and am delighted that an associated Friends of Saint Patrick organization has now become established in Milwaukee, and material which has been so successfully used in Ireland can now benefit children from our own communities."
As a means to teach first through third grade students the meaning of the St. Patrick's Day celebration, the book was distributed to each of the 119 elementary schools in the 10 counties of the archdiocese. The Milwaukee Irish Fest Foundation, the Ancient Order of Hibernians Foundation, Callen Construction and William Ryan Drew sponsored the book's printing. The Friends of St. Patrick-Milwaukee is also contacting area public schools to see if they might be interested in receiving copies of the book.
When Jane Mullaney Anderson, executive director of Milwaukee Irish Fest, saw the book when visiting the Saint Patrick Centre in Downpatrick last March, she thought it would be a wonderful way to convey St. Patrick's message of reconciliation and unity in a simple form that children could understand.
"We celebrate St. Pat-rick's Day in the states, but how many really know the meaning of the day or why we celebrate?" she asked, adding, "We feel it is a positive message for us to send out on St. Patrick's Day."
Distributing the book reinforces the Friends of Saint Patrick Milwaukee Chapter's mission to build positive and ongoing relationships between Milwaukee and the northern part of Ireland and particularly St. Patrick's country in counties Armagh and Down. To learn about and experience the cultures of Northern Ireland and the reconciliation work going on there through the Saint Patrick Centre. Through education, action and celebration, Friends of Saint Patrick-Milwaukee will nurture Patrick's legacy in America and Ireland.
According to Anderson, Archbishop Dolan encouraged the Friends of Saint Patrick-Milwaukee's adaptation of the book, which includes a page describing the American celebration of St. Patrick Day.
"He told me about his experience in Downpatrick and suggested that this was a story that we might want to bring to Milwaukee Irish Fest," she said. "He has remained very supportive of the Friends Chapter and also the storybook."
"The Story of St. Patrick"is available online(under shop) or at the Irish Fest Centre, 1532 Wauwatosa Ave., Milwaukee, or by calling (414) 476-3378. Cost is $10 (plus shipping, if ordered online.)