Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club celebrates faith and friendship at Mass

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Grand Marshal Frank Denny walks up the center aisle to applause during the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club’s Mass Saturday (March 14) at St. Mary’s Assumption Church. (Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger)

Members of the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club gathered Saturday (March 14) for their annual Mass at St. Mary’s Assumption Church that traditionally precedes their Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day parade. This year, the parade hosted by the group founded in 1947 was canceled by the city due to the spread of the coronavirus.

According to the club’s website, despite the years of membership decline, the organization has survived, and this year planned to parade with the largest membership ever, more than 1,400.

Emotions were bittersweet as the crowd of around 200 – club members and their families and friends – celebrated their faith, their Irish roots and their ties to the Irish Channel.

“I’ve been crying since Tuesday,” said Dee-Dee Denny Dunn, daughter of Grand Marshal Frank Denny. “We thought this was going to be his big day. But we’re not going to let it rain on his parade.”

The crowd stood and clapped as Denny was introduce and he walked down the center isle of the church. And as Mass was said, old friends sat shoulder to shoulder, fathers embraced daughters, mothers held their sons in their arms.

Social distancing was observed by those not affiliated with the club. Some couples sat in pews alone. A few pulled out hand sanitizers after taking communion. No wine was offered during communion, and no holy water was in the fonts. But the prayers were heartfelt, the faith strong.

Ed McGinnis hugs his daughter Carolyn, this year’s queen, during the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club’s Mass Saturday (March 14) at St. Mary’s Assumption Church. (Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger)

Around 200 club members and supporters gather at St. Mary’s Assumption Church on Saturday. (Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger)

Kirsten Jennings hugs her son Aidan, 14, during the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club’s Mass. (Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger)

Father Allen Weinert, church pastor, offers wafers during communion at St. Mary’s Assumption Church. (Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger)

Wafers are offered during communion, but wine was omitted. For some, communion was followed by hand sanitizer. (Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger)

A member of the Emerald Society of New Orleans prays during the Mass Saturday at St. Mary’s Assumption Church. (Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger)

Grand Marshal Frank Denny, left, shakes hands with his friend and Man of the Year Johnny Gallagher during the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club’s Mass. (Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger)

Grand Marshal Frank Denny’s family members take their seats. (Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger)

Surrounded by her court, Queen Carolyn McGinnis, in white, holds hands with her father, Ed McGinnis. (Dinah Rogers, Uptown Messenger)

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