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Though a native Englishman, the newest grand marshal for the York St. Patrick's Day Parade can't deny his Irish heritage — and with a name like Patrick Joseph John Rooney, who could?

Rooney was selected by the parade committee to serve as its 37th grand marshal, a role that is chosen based on the person's charity work and involvement within the York community.

"It's a recognition in many ways, and I realized that when I was in Ireland for the last two years, just what it means to me to be Irish," Rooney said. "To share that heritage and to be part of that culture."

The 37th annual York St. Patrick's Day Parade will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 14, and will go east on Market Street from Penn Street to Queen Street.

Rooney was a member of a Roman Catholic religious order for 10 years before converting to Lutheran and serving as a senior pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in York.

He also worked in the human services field for the Department of Welfare and was the president and CEO of a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.

Victoria Connor, a committee member for the York St. Patrick's Day Parade, said the committee chooses from a wide variety of candidates that are submitted  each year.

"We really look for someone who has devoted themselves to serving the community," Connor said. "We were delighted to surprise Paddy with the opportunity."

Rooney was officially announced as grand marshal Thursday, Jan. 15, at Central Market in York City. 

A short ceremony drew a small crowd to witness Rooney's inauguration. Following the ceremony, committee members gathered to sing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."

"It's still one of those things that one doesn't expect, so I'm really pleased," Rooney said. 

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.

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