We’re all (PND) Irish

Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, and one doesn’t have to be Irish to celebrate the popular saint of Ireland. In the Diocese of Peoria, St. Patrick is patron of 22 of our parishes.

Similarly, as the last few weeks have proven, one doesn’t have to be affiliated with Peoria Notre Dame High School to feel a connection with and pride for the PND Irish community. The sudden death of beloved principal Randy Simmons on Feb. 19 united Catholics and non-Catholics of the region in prayer, sympathy, support and love.

From the funeral on Feb. 26 to last weekend’s successful school gala to hundreds of postings on social media, the phrase “PNDtogether” was more than a hashtag.

That unity will be evident again this Sunday during St. Patrick’s Day observances in the city. The school worked with the Simmons family to create a unique t-shirt in his memory, and word is that many attending the 10:30 a.m. Mass with Bishop Jenky and the 2 p.m. parade through downtown Peoria will be wearing them.

The shirts, green of course, say “IRISH” and “PNDtogether” on the front and feature a quote from former University of Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz on the back: “Do the right thing, do the best that you can, and always show people you care.”

Whether you are a member of the Peoria Notre Dame community, or even live in the Peoria area, consider yourself not only Irish this Sunday but PND Irish. Say a prayer at Mass for Sister Sara Kowal, SCTJM, as she begins her service as principal. (See related story.) Add one for the Simmons family and all who continue to grieve.

And, after the tears of the last weeks, allow your Irish eyes to smile. — Thomas J. Dermody

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