By Patricia Mathson
FEAST DAY: MARCH 17
As a teen Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland by slave traders. He was put to work as a shepherd. He missed his family, friends, and life back home. As he sat alone night after night watching over his master’s sheep, he opened his heart to God and prayed. At last he escaped and returned home to England. But that wasn’t the end of the story.
Shared the good news
Sometime later Patrick had a dream that he should return to Ireland and share the good news of Jesus Christ with the Irish people. He became a priest and later a bishop. It couldn’t have been easy for him to go back to Ireland, but he trusted in God. He went all over Ireland teaching about God, baptizing people, and building churches.
Taught with a shamrock
The legend is that Patrick taught the people of Ireland about the Trinity by using a shamrock he picked from the ground. He explained to the people that there are three persons in one God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — just as there are three leaves on one shamrock. He taught the people in ways they could understand.
Patron saint of Ireland
Patrick was a person of courage and compassion who truly cared about the people of Ireland. He persevered even when life was difficult or he faced challenges. Patrick treated the Irish people with dignity and respect, and he became the beloved patron saint of Ireland. The life of St. Patrick reminds us that we too are called to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others.
What can we do?
✱ Talk about the life of St. Patrick. What happened to Patrick as a teen? How did he get through the lonely nights? Did he get to go home again? Then what did he decide to do? What work did he do in Ireland? How did he teach people about the Trinity? How can we share the good news of Jesus with others as he did?
✱ Make shamrock crosses. This craft will help children remember the story of St. Patrick. Have them cut individual crosses from half sheets of green construction paper. Provide green shamrock stickers so the children can decorate their crosses. They can take their crosses home to share with their families.
✱ Look up and read Matthew 28:18-20 together. In this Gospel account Jesus Christ calls us to make disciples of all nations. Discuss how St. Patrick answered this call in his life. Encourage the children to think of ways they can share the good news of Jesus Christ, such as inviting another child to go to Mass with them.
God of all people, we thank you for the example of St. Patrick’s faith. May we be like St. Patrick and let others know the good news of Jesus Christ. Help us to witness to all that Jesus Christ taught us. We know you are the God of all people and all nations. Help us to share your love with other people by our words and our actions each day. Amen.
Patricia Mathson, MRE, is the Children’s Ministry Coordinator for a shelter. She has authored many books from Twenty-Third Publications, including 70 Prayer Starters for Children.
PHOTO: RENATA SEDMAKOVA
This article originally published in Catechist, March 2017.