The Grand Marshal of the 2020 St. Augustine St. Patrick Parade, March 14, will be Sr. Bernard Joseph, curator of the Sisters of St. Joseph O’Reilly House Museum. The Sisters of St. Joseph will also be represented in the Parade by Sister Kathleen Carr, General Superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph Congregation, Sister Catherine Bitzer, archivist, and Sister Carol Stovall, a member of the Congregation’s leadership team.
Father Miguel O’ Reilly House Museum: The O’Reilly House is the oldest house on the oldest street in the oldest part of the oldest city in the United States. Irish Priest Miguel (Michael) O'Reilly supervised the construction of St. Augustine’s beautiful Cathedral from 1793 to its completion and consecration in 1797. He and fellow Irishmen were the Spanish colony’s principal vicars in the Second Spanish Period. O’Reilly was born in Ireland where the English were suppressing the Catholic faith. He was trained for the priesthood in Spain and sent to St. Augustine in 1777 to minister to the Menorcans. He became the chaplain of the Hibernian Regiment and “vicario” of the entire Colony. Here he was the teacher of Felix Varela, the Cuban writer and hero who is now up for Sainthood.
The house was built around 1691 and was given to the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1866. Father Miguel O’Reilly wanted his house used for education. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Le Puy, France arrived in St. Augustine at the request of Bishop Verot to bring education to newly emancipated slaves. November 1866 witnessed the opening of the O’Reilly House as the first school for African American boys in St. Augustine.
The O’Reilly House has been under the care and ownership of the Sisters of St. Joseph since 1866. The unique history of the house and its usage is such an important part of the history of St. Augustine that the Sisters opened it for a museum in 2002. The house is operated and maintained by the Sisters. They have a wonderful group of volunteers that assist the Sisters in sharing the faith and the good works of the Congregation.
The St. Patrick Parade begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday March 14 in downtown St. Augustine, the site of the world’s original St. Patrick parade, begun in 1601! The Parade follows a 3-mile route throughout downtown from Francis Field to Orange Street to Castillo Drive, Avenida Menendez to Cathedral, Cordova Street to Orange Street, and returns as the Celtic Music & Heritage Festival is beginning on Francis Field. This is one of the three largest Parades in St. Augustine, with over 1,000 participants including numerous bands, floats, marching units, dancers, horses, cars, carriages, tour trains and more that fill the route from end to end.
The Parade Reviewing Stand is hosted by Ann O’Malley’s Irish Pub at 23 Orange Street. This year’s Parade Judges will be Jessica Clark, First Coast News; Sheldon Gardner, St. Augustine Record reporter; Amy Hendrickson, local musician; Shelton Hull, Folio Weekly columnist; and Jeff Valin, First Coast News. The Parade announcer will again be Mike Sullivan, a winter resident of St. Augustine, who is a retired police officer from Michigan, and a pub singer in Port Huron in his spare time. The Parade will also feature Coastal Florida Police & Fire Pipes and Drums, Jacksonville Pipes & Drums, and Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Dept. Pipes and Drums.
For more information about the Parade or to register to be in the Parade, please visit HERE.
St. Augustine’s St. Patrick Parade is produced by non-profit Romanza – St. Augustine, Inc. and is funded in part by the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council, and by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural, Florida Council on Arts and Culture.