NUTLEY, NJ - Bagpipers marched into Nutley’s St Mary’s Parish filling the church with music on Saturday, March 2 opening the 41st annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade Investiture Mass.  The Rory O’Moore School of Pipes and Drums played their bagpipes and drums loudly celebrating the start of the Irish celebration held by the Nutley Irish American Alliance.

Friends and family gathered for the annual mass led by the Rev. Richard J. Berbary.  Although the snow kept celebrant the Rev. Patrick W. Donohue of St. Mary’s Church in Dumont away, many gathered for the annual service. Friends and family filled about half the church to celebrate the day and the honorees. The mass also acknowledged deceased members Msgr. John Gilchrist, James Freitag and Kevin Ryan.

Berbary performed the full ceremonial mass with the Rev. Tom Nicastro. Berbary commented on the early morning snow storm. “[…] Buck up, the Irish didn’t make it great by taking the easy way out.”

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Grand Marshal Ed Saegers gave the first reading, Parade Queen Kellie Cole presented the rose and NIAA member Alicia Bennett Frannicola read the prayer of the faithful. The harpist Merynda Adams played Danny Boy during the communion meditation.

Berbary spoke about the life of St. Patrick and how he believed God chose him to convert a nation. He said the first ancient records of Irish history come from the letters St. Patrick wrote to the bishop. “The Nutley Irish American Association are [sic] doing God’s work bringing a community to a parade,” he said.

Nicastro blessed the honoree sashes before Francis J. Costenbader, NIAA legal counsel presented them to the honorees.

The honorees Saegars, Deputy Grand Marshal Noreen E. Haveron, Member of the Year Allen Magill, and Fire Fighter of the Year Rich Cavanagh and Cole presented gifts of their heritage during the service which NIAA member Judy McIntyre explained the meaning of each and the symbols importance to the dignitaries.

Saegers presented St. Bridgid’s Cross. The tale of St. Bridgid was described.  St. Bridgid’s feast day is the first day of February which is also the first day of spring in Ireland, a time when new life on Earth is celebrated. On the eve of St. Bridgid’s Feast Day, crosses are placed in the fields to bring good luck for the harvest.

Haveron shared a photograph of her grandfather Owen Lavan’s house in Kiltimagh in County Mayo, Ireland. According to Haveron, it still stands on the family land that operates as a farm.  She said the photo represents what her grandfather stood for in life. He left the land he loved, never to return; to dream of a new life in America which he found with his wife Mary and nine children. 

Magill presented the Celtic Cross which he said also represents his family crest from North West Donegal.  The shape of the Celtic Cross represents the four directions of the compass and the four seasons. An Irish legend tells how St. Patrick created the first Celtic Cross by drawing a circle over a Latin cross.

He said the Celtic Cross is a reminder of his Irish heritage. His great-grandfather came to America to start a new life in the mid-1800s.  His family always remained close. His mother Jean Magill raised six children on her after his father Arthur died at a young age.  Since his mother died the family still gathers for Thanksgiving and Easter weekends.

Cole brought a pocket watch from her great-great-uncle, Michael. Her maternal ancestors emigrated from County Cavan, Ireland.  The watch was one of the first things he purchased as soon as he arrived into the United States. Cole said the pocket watch has been passed down from generation to generation symbolizing opportunity and family value.

Cavanagh showed a picture of his paternal grandfather, John Joseph Cavanagh born in Tipperary, Ireland.  According to Cavanagh, in 1918, in order for him to become an American citizen faster, he enlisted in the United States Army and served during World War I.

At the end of the mass The Rory O’Moore School of Pipes and Drums performed marching into the church and around the aisles, proceeding outside lining up on the stairs while the priests, dignitaries, NIAA and family friends came out in order.

A bus provided by the Nutley Parks and Recreation took the dignitaries to the start of the parade route at Holy Family Church on Brookline Avenue in Nutley.


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