Cardinal Timothy Dolan unofficially kicked off next year’s St. Patrick’s Day season in New York by hosting a party last Wednesday evening in his residence for the St. Patrick’s Day Foundation, which announced three scholarships in Dolan’s name on the night.

“The parade itself is a cultural event, a social event, a historical event, and a religious event. It brings our city and truly brings our nation together,” Dolan told the guests assembled in his reception room, among them the parade’s 2019 grand marshal, Brian O’Dwyer, and his wife Marianna.

“My appreciation for the parade has been enhanced because of your new tradition of supporting scholars. We could fill every one of our Catholic schools if we had enough scholarships,” the cardinal added.

The new recipients of the Cardinal Dolan Scholarships are Catholic high school students Michael Costello, Conor Morris, and Emily Gordon.  The foundation also announced the addition of a new scholarship in the name of Rosemary Lombard, a long-time member of the parade’s board of directors who passed away last year.

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Sean Lane, the new chairman of the St. Patrick’s Day parade board and a co-founder of the foundation with Hilary Beirne, announced that the theme of next year’s march up Fifth Avenue would be immigration.  Siobhan Dennehy, the executive director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in Queens and the Bronx, was named the 2019 parade aide at large, and Lane praised the work that she and O’Dwyer, a founder of the Emerald Isle, perform on behalf of the immigrant community.

O’Dwyer addressed the guests and spoke of his family’s long-standing relationship with the parade.  His father Paul, the noted civil rights activist and attorney, was the grand marshal in 1954, while his uncle William, a former mayor of New York, was similarly honored in 1938.

O’Dwyer first marched up Fifth Avenue with his father when he was five years old, “and for those young people here, that was a long time ago,” he laughed.

Carrying up the gifts during the St. Patrick’s Day morning Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral – the parade will take place on Saturday, March 16 – will be especially meaningful, O’Dwyer said, because of Cardinal Dolan’s potent advocacy for immigrants.

“The cardinal has been an advocate for the poor and disadvantaged who come to this country, and has shown strength and courage in doing so,” O’Dwyer said.

He also made note of his grandmother, an immigrant from Co. Galway who was forced to come to New York to provide funds for her family back home.

“When she was 16 she was literally driven out of her house by hunger. She was asked to leave because they needed someone to go and get a job…she landed in New York and worked as a ladies maid on Fifth Avenue,” O’Dwyer said.

“Now, 100 years later, her grandson … has the honor of being the grand marshal of this parade.”

The aides to the grand marshal will be announced after a meeting of the parade later this week.

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