The Archbishop of New York has told a congregation in Mullingar, Co Westmeath that faith got Ireland through the collapse of the Celtic Tiger.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan told mass-goers at Mullingar Cathedral of his pride in Ireland’s faith.

Addressing a jubilee Mass the Cathedral of Christ the King on Sunday, Cardinal Dolan praised the Irish people’s dedication to their church.

It was this dedication, he said, which offered them real hope in times of ‘cynical’ despair.

He also told the Irish Times of his debt to four Sisters of Mercy who left the convent of St Mary in Drogheda to take over Holy Infant parish school in Ballwin, Missouri, where he was a pupil.

The paper reports that before the Mass Cardinal Dolan was joined for a tree planting ceremony by one of the nuns, Sr Mary Bosco Daly, and couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries.

The Archbishop said: “How appropriate that a cathedral in the heartland of Ireland would be the first to bear that hopeful title, Christ our King.

“This is an island, this is a people, this is a church that has had a litany of earthly reasons to let hope flag.

“Just look at the hope evident in the gutsy confidence of those who gathered here three-quarters of a century ago to consecrate this church, only three days after Hitler had invaded Poland, the very day England declared war on Germany.

“Historians conclude that Ireland’s ‘harsh and dreadful’ history and even its weather result in either a cynical despair or a buoyant hope and, even if grudgingly at times, they credit the faith of Ireland, fostered by the church, with guaranteeing that a buoyant hope usually trumps a cynical despair.”

The Cardinal was in Mullingar on Sunday to attend the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Cathedral of Christ the King in the town.

He arrived in Ireland just days after confirmation that he will be the grand marshal of the 254th St Patrick’s Day parade in New York.

Next year’s parade will see the historic end of a ban on openly gay groups participating in the parade under their own banner.

The Irish Times reports that Cardinal Dolan has described the decision as a wise one’.