Meat on St. Patrick’s Day for Catholics in New England?

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Roman Catholics everywhere in New England are allowed to meat on St. Patrick’s Day, even though this year it’s a Friday during Lent.

Catholic bishops have the authority to offer a dispensation from the ordinary rule, and all of the bishops in New England have.

Ordinarily, Catholics ages 14 and older are supposed to abstain from meat as a form of penance on Ash Wednesday, every Friday during Lent, and Good Friday (which technically occurs shortly after Lent ends).

Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional dish on St. Patrick’s Day for Irish-Americans, who make up the largest ethnic group in New England.

St. Patrick’s Day, which is Friday, March 17, falls on a Friday about once every seven years. Bishops of diocese with large Irish populations usually offer a dispensation from the no-meat rule when that happens, often with a request that Catholics perform other acts of penance and charity in its place.

For statements by particular bishops, see the following links:




Archdiocese of Boston

(includes Suffolk County, Middlesex County, Norfolk County, Essex County, and almost all of Plymouth County)

Diocese of Fall River

(includes South Coast, Cape Cod, and one town in Plymouth County)

Diocese of Worcester

(includes central Massachusetts)

Diocese of Springfield

(includes western Massachusetts)


Rhode Island

Diocese of Providence

(includes entire state of Rhode Island)


New Hampshire

Diocese of Manchester

(includes entire state of New Hampshire)



Diocese of Portland

(includes entire state of Maine)



Diocese of Burlington

(includes entire state of Vermont)



Archdiocese of Hartford

(includes parts of northern, central, and south central Connecticut)


Diocese of Bridgeport

(includes southwestern Connecticut)


Diocese of Norwich

(includes eastern Connecticut)

New Boston Post couldn’t find a statement online, but a spokesman for the bishop of Norwich emailed the following statement upon request:

“His Excellency, Bishop Michael R. Cote, has formally dispensed the Faithful of the Diocese of Norwich from the obligation to abstain from meat on the Memorial of Saint Patrick, which will be observed this year on Friday, March 17th .  The faithful who partake of meat on March 17, 2017, are encouraged to observe the Lenten abstinence on Thursday, March 16th, or Saturday, March 18th.”