It would be easy to interpret the church's celebration of Saint Patrick as just about Irish/ Celtic ethnicity. But the real reason is far closer to the heart of this church's ministry!
Saint Patrick was not Irish; he was born in England. However at the age of 16, he was kidnapped and enslaved by Celtic raiders from Ireland. The Irish natives were a violent, clan-based people, with no Christian influence or heritage, rather a Druid / Celtic polytheistic religion that even utilized human sacrifice. Patrick later described that the time he spent as a slave was when his faith turned to Jesus and solidified, on the fields shepherding as a captive, and he converted to and devoted himself to Christ. In his early 20's he fled captivity and found passage on a ship back to Britain to study Christianity.
However, after becoming a clergyman in England, he felt led to return to Ireland to evangelize to the very people who had enslaved him. He used his early life challenge as God's tools. Fluent and familiar with their wild culture, he baptized many across Ireland, shared Jesus with the native peoples. He was highly creative in engaging the Celtic traditions and Druid habits into incorporation with Christian symbols and theology. Though little formal history survives, the common stories about his work are extraordinary in their scope and creative reach to share the Gospel.
In the entire history of Christianity, there are few missionaries with the impact of Saint Patrick. That is why we celebrate and enjoy the holiday in remembrance of one of the true evangelists for Jesus.
Saint Patrick's Prayer
As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.