Connor Heaney is having a busy St. Patrick’s Day. His day starts early, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, where he will be one of the altar servers to Cardinal Timothy Dolan and other assembled prelates as they celebrate the 8:30 a.m. invitation-only High Mass. Three hours later, at 11 a.m., Connor joins the West Side Formation Team on Fifth Avenue and learn what it takes to run the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world.
“I’m a senior alter server at St. Thomas the Apostle in Bloomfield, N.J.,” said Connor, an honors student at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, who celebrated his 17th birthday with his family on March 16th. “It’s a huge honor to serve on the altar with Cardinal Dolan and so many others who have committed their lives to God.”
Many of the Parade workers are from families that have volunteered for generations. Connor’s father, Tom Heaney, is a dedicated Parade volunteer, who currently runs the Parade’s website. “I like to help out with the coordination of the Parade, and do any odd jobs I’m asked to fill,” Connor said. “It’s fun to see both the Cathedral and the Parade from the inside.”
Connor’s first Formation job last year was as a time-keeper, responsible for writing down the time that each of the more than 200 marching groups steps onto Fifth Avenue, to make sure the Parade runs on schedule.
Any favorite memories to share from 2016, his first year as an altar server at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and as a Parade volunteer? Connor shook his head no. “I was really nervous,” he said. “I was concentrating on not making a mistake.”