Editorial: The Saint’s Day puts the Irish & friends in a festive mood

The month of March – Saint Patrick’s Month –is underway, with Irish-themed events all over town. Boston’s Irish stay connected with many events throughout the year, at the Irish Cultural Centre, the Irish Pastoral Centre, the Rian Center for Immigrants, and gatherings at pubs and parishes, where their heritage is celebrated and sustained.

Over these days in mid-March, there are many more places where celebrations of Irish culture are on the agenda.

Locally, celebratory events continue this weekend in our neighborhoods, among them: The Dorchester-based Irish Pastoral Centre will host a Saint Patrick’s celebration with an annual Mass and a blessing of shamrocks at Florian Hall on Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Ireland’s current Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin will visit the JFK Library Saturday afternoon for a forum with Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen; and the St Patrick’s/Evacuation Day parade – a city-sponsored observance of the day British troops were forced to flee Boston Harbor – March 17, 1776 – will step off this Sunday at 1 p.m. on the streets of South Boston. (You can see a full listing of events at our companion website, BostonIrish.com.)

Mary Ann Brett Food Pantry fetes Supt. Baston, Sen. Collins

A recent traditional event planned around the Saint’s holiday will resume again this Saturday. The 14th annual St Patrick’s Brunch to benefit the Mary Ann Brett Food Pantry will be held this Saturday (March 18) from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Saint Margaret Church of Saint Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Dorchester. The event will honor Boston Police Department Supt. Nora Baston and state Sen. Nick Collins, with all proceeds to support the free program.

The Pantry provides nutritious groceries to individuals and families living in the Dorchester neighborhood who are facing economic hardship. In cases of emergency, groceries are provided to individuals and families as needed. In addition, if a person or family in need is unable to come to the Pantry because of health-related issues, the food will be delivered to them.

The pantry was conceived and supported by members of the Brett family to honor the memory of their mother. “The Mary Ann Brett Food Pantry is a ministry of faith and love staffed by volunteers,” the Bretts say, “and it serves any and all residents of Dorchester in need. The annual brunch always attracts several prominent business and political leaders.”

In 2018, then-Boston Mayor Marty Walsh emphasized the lasting impact of the annual event on the community. “The money that’s raised here today helps the food pantry all year long,” he said. “This breakfast can help someone in need in July.”

Also that year, Gov. Charlie Baker, who regularly attended the event, lauded Dorchester as “a community of dreams,”saying, “I come here because I feel really good when I leave,” he said, speaking of the brunch. “Every year it’s a wonderful gathering that breathes hope, faith, and love.”

In 2019, pantry volunteers served some 1,300 families and helped almost 5,000 individuals facing food insecurity. 

Jim Brett sums up the family’s commitment to honor the memory of his mother and the mission of the food bank: “We cannot forget our neighbors,” he said. “That’s what this is all about.”

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