The Archbishop of Birmingham [said]: “Birmingham’s Irish festival and today’s parade take place at this time because next Thursday (17 March) is the Feast of St Patrick. So it is important that we recall the Patron Saint of Ireland and the significance of his faith in Jesus Christ both for his own mission and for the legacy that he left to the Irish people. This is particularly important during theses difficult days for the Irish nation and for the Church in Ireland. It is helpful to recall that so often from adversity good things can grow.
"As we begin the holy season of Lent we have a chance to reflect on what lies at the very heart of our Lord’s work and the mission that he has shared with us. We must first repent and believe the Good News so that we are able to share that Good News with others. This was also the first lesson that St Patrick learnt and it enabled him to preach the Gospel with such confidence.”
Archbishop Longley concluded: “Our own Catholic community in Birmingham has its roots in the witness and vision of Irish Catholics who made Birmingham their home in the nineteenth century and in the years that followed.
“Thank you for the friendships and partnerships that you have developed with other faith communities here in the city. May this St Patrick’s Day bring many blessings to you and through your prayers to all the citizens of Birmingham.”
Blessed John Henry Newman founded the first English Oratory of St Philip Neri at Maryvale, near Birmingham, in 1848. Fr Newman moved to Alcester Street, near the town centre, in February 1849, where he converted a disused gin distillery into a chapel and began his mission among the sick and poor of Birmingham.