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Bishop Koenig offers dispensation from Lenten abstinence from meat for St. Patrick’s Day


Statement from Bishop William E. Koenig regarding the dispensation from abstinence from meat for the Feast of St. Patrick, March 17, 2023

From the very beginnings of Christianity, the faithful have observed Fridays as a day for particular remembrance of the Passion of Christ, by which we are saved and delivered. Over the centuries, penitential practices have developed to mark this weekly observance. In a special way, the discipline of the church in the United States on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent preserves the memory of the Cross and encourages a spirit of penance by requiring the faithful who have completed their fourteenth year to abstain from meat. Notwithstanding the privileged place of this penitential practice in the spiritual life, requests for dispensation have not been infrequent when Fridays in Lent have corresponded with traditional days of Christian celebration.

Owing much to Saint Patrick and to those devoted to him, the faithful of the Diocese of Wilmington have long marked each March 17th as the feast of the saintly first bishop of Armagh. Given the extent to which the life of this Diocese has been shaped by Irish immigrants indebted to Saint Patrick for the gift of their Catholic faith, his feast day has traditionally been an occasion for joy-filled celebrations in this diocese.


Considering that the Memorial of Saint Patrick on March 17 coincides in 2023 with Friday of the Third Week of Lent; and

In thanksgiving for the example of Saint Patrick as a missionary disciple called and sent forth to preach the Gospel; and

Recognizing the rich spiritual patrimony handed on to the faithful of this community by the spiritual sons and daughters of Saint Patrick throughout the history of this Diocese; and

Having determined that the prominence of the Memorial in the sensibilities and practice of faithful Catholics of this local Church warrants the relaxation of the penitential spirit normally to be observed on any Friday, most especially a Friday in Lent; with this decree, I hereby


those faithful domiciled or physically present in the territory of the Diocese who would ordinarily be bound to observe abstinence from meat on the Fridays of the season of Lent. All, however, who choose to enjoy the favor of the dispensation by partaking in the eating of meat on the Memorial of Saint Patrick this year, are exhorted to undertake a work of charity, an exercise of piety, or an act of comparable penance on some other occasion during the Third Week of Lent.

Through the intercession of Saint Patrick, may Christ be in the heart of everyone who thinks of us, in the mouth of everyone who speaks of us, in every eye that sees us, and in every ear that hears us.

Given at Wilmington, on this 22nd day of February, in the Year of Our Lord 2023.

Most Rev. William E. Koenig, DD

Bishop of Wilmington