When the St. Patrick Society of the Quad Cities’ Grand Parade steps off at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 12, for the first time in its 36-year history, a woman will serve as its Grand Marshal.
Sister Joan Lescinski, the recently retired president of St. Ambrose University, was chosen to lead the bi-state parade when the society began looking for someone to honor and celebrate the life of the St. Patrick and the American-Irish heritage of the Quad-Cities, the organization said.
“The selection of a Grand Marshal is a reflection of that same Irish Spirit and to honor that individual’s life-work and contribution to our community and beyond. Sister Joan Lescinski’s dedication in the service of higher education and spiritual fulfillment has impacted the lives of countless individuals,” the society said in a news release.
Sister Lescinski retired as president of St. Ambrose University, Davenport, in August 2021. Upon her retirement, she concluded nearly a half-century of service to Catholic higher education, including 14 years as president of St. Ambrose.
“It is that dedication and accomplishment” that the St. Patrick Society Board of Directors said it is saluting in choosing her to serve as Grand Marshal.
While not Irish by birth, Sister Lescinski told the Catholic Messenger “she had been ‘blessed to share in the gracious and hospitable Irish culture’ throughout her life. Her mother’s best friend, who was 100% Irish, helped the Polish/Italian Lescinski family get in the spirit of each St. Patrick’s Day by posting a sign on the family’s door: ‘Welcome to the O’Lescinski’s Home.”
Joining Sister Lescinski in being honored by the Society this year is retiring fellow educator Jeanne O’Brien Von Feldt. The principal of Davenport’s All Saints Catholic School was named the St. Patrick Society’s Irish Mother of the Year.
The pair will be introduced at the Gathering of the Clan Luncheon at The Great Hall, RiverCenter, on Friday, March 11.
The parade – the only St. Patrick’s Day parade in America that spans two states – steps off promptly at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 12, at 4th Avenue and 23rd Street, Rock Island, and will march through downtown Rock Island. Then, it will cross the Talbot/Centennial Bridge to Davenport’s West Third Street and travel east to the RiverCenter.