Virginia News

William Halpin - St. Columcille Lifetime Achievement Award

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY! Greetings to everyone from the Commonwealth of Virginia on this St. Patrick’s Day. On this day we set aside our problems and remember the joy in Life that comes from good company and the celebration of a great culture. St. Patrick’s Day is a time for fun and laughter, for showcasing the Best of the Irish and for demonstrating our pride in homeland and heritage. St. Patrick’s our life story is worth remembering during tough times for he himself faced and overcame great personal hardship that tested him to the limits. The family of the Gael gathers in his name all over the world, especially Ireland. We are a very lucky to have a large global Family.

Our Divisions are very busy with all their activities. We have one more New Division ready to be chartered in Alexandria by Past National Director Pat Troy (The Living Legend). We continue to have more and more St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Alexandria, Manassas, Virginia Beach/Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke, Sperryville and Fredericksburg. After having a few Parades we have grown and continue to add more Parades in our Communities promoting our Irish Heritage and Culture. On March 14th we had our 32nd Annual Gaelic Mass in Honor of St. Patrick sponsored by Col. John Fitzgerald Division #1 Arlington at St. Charles Catholic Church. The Gaelic Mass Chairman was Past State President Jim Carmody. The Celebrant for the Mass was Reverend Gerald Creedon from County Cork, Ireland.

Pictured (L – R) State President Rich Aleksy, Terry Riley - 2010 Hibernian of the Year, State VP Chuck Curran

On December 12, 2010, a cold, rainy day not unlike December 12, 1862, the Thomas F. Meagher Division participated in the Annual wreath laying ceremony at the Kirkland Memorial on the Sunken Road in Frericksburg, VA. It was here that General Thomas Meagher’s Irish Brigade repeatedly assaulted across the plain below Marye Heights, losing approximately 550 Officers and Men. Ironically, Confederate defenders included Cobb’s Brigade commanded by Antrim-born Colonel Robert McMillan and the Lochrane Guards, an Irish infantry company from Macon, Georgia. As McMillan and his men viewed the 28th Massachusetts’ green flag advancing “Oh, God…here comes Meagher’s fellows” was heard along the confederate line. It was at Fredericksburg that General Robert E. Lee allegedly referred to the “Fighting 69th”, a moniker that has endured into that New York National Guard unit’s deployments to Iraq. Through that cold December night in 1862, Confederate Sgt. Richard Kirkland heard the moans and cries of the Union wounded. This American soldier of sublime compassion climbed over the stone wall and brought water to his wounded foes. Fighting men on both sides of the line called him “The Angel of Marye Heights”. The memorial commemorates this act of compassion during the heat of the Battle. The ceremony was highlighted by an informative talk by keynote speaker Frank O’Reilly the National Park Service Ranger/Historian and author of The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock. The ceremony concluded with laying wreaths and the playing of Taps.

On February 12th during our Quarterly State Meeting hosted by Father Edwin Kelley Division we honored two of our Outstanding Brother Hibernians. Virginia State Board honored Brother Terry Riley, recipient of the 2010 Hibernian of the Year, from Lt Col. Dowd Division and Brother William Halpin, recipient of the St. Columcille Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations to both. Attached are the pictures of the presentations by our State VP Chuck Curran and myself.

On January 22nd the Major Dooley Division held their Annual wreath laying ceremony of their namesake Major Dooley. Major James Henry Dooley was the son of Irish immigrants John and Sarah Dooley. He was born in Richmond, VA, one of nine children. His Father, John Dooley, Sr. was a successful hat manufacturer. The Dooley Family was prominent in the community and the Parish of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. After the wreath laying ceremony Dr. Lynn Baylis took the group on a walking tour of the Italian Garden. The Dooley’s brought back a Gazebo on a ship from a vacation in Italy.

 

Virginia News

Another year, another Advent and soon another Christmas. Christmas time seems to come much faster now that we are adults doesn’t it. It was a long time between Christmases when we were kids. The birthday of our Savior is but a few more days away. The Virginia State Board has continued make a strong attempt to “Keep Christ in Christmas” again this year.  I encourage all Division presidents to contact radio stations in your local areas with a thirty second radio spot to keep Christ in Christmas. I encourage you to make a Nativity Scene as part of your Christmas decorations in your home and your meeting locations.

I encourage you to make sure that your Parish or perhaps an underprivileged Parish in your community is suitably dressed for Christmas. Offer to assist with decorations, flowers, cleanup or whatever is needed. Encourage our children to give gifts that they made themselves or a thoughtful act to those less fortunate this year.

As we approach the New Year it is also a time to reflect on our accomplishments or the things we did not accomplish in 2010 as a leader of the AOH. This is a time to set new goals, repair omissions and correct errors from last year and plan for a worthy future. It is always more meaningful and binding if we put our goals and commitments on paper, even if we do not show anyone else.

I hope that your schedule and plans enable you to spend a lot of time with your families this Christmas. I hope you will have the most wonderful and happiest Christmas of your life and that our Savior bestows his blessings on you and your family.  Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Holy New Year.

Picture (R – L) Back row: Joe Sabella; Aldo Direnzo; Marty Crimmins, Div 4. Front row: Dr. Craig Campbell, Div 1; Donald McAndrews, Div 4; Tom P Monahan, Div 4

Virginia News

On behalf of the AOH Virginia State Board I would like to congratulate our new National Officers and National Directors. We are looking at another two prosperous years.

Presentation to Virginia’s First Lady Maureen McDonnell at the Governor’s Mansion, Richmond, Virginia. There were over twenty AOH Dooley Division Brothers in attendance on March 17, 2010, St. Patrick’s Day. They presented the First Lady with a Galway Crystal Pillar Hurricane and with an offer of a complimentary portrait from Mary Ellen McFadden, wife of Brother Paul McFadden. They also presented her with a Celtic Cross Pin and an AOH Application for her husband, Gov. Bob McDonnell (Irish Catholic). The First Lady was very gracious. It was a Great event for the Division. It is a tradition for the Division to present the First Lady with a gift during her first year in office.

Members of the Virginia AOH with Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell and the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond.

Catholic Schools Check Presentations. Major James H. Dooley Division of AOH donated $3,200.00 to Catholic Schools and Parish Christian Formation Programs. Donations were made from the proceeds of their 8th Annual Trip for Two to Ireland Raffle. Since 2007, the AOH has donated $12,200.00 to Catholic Schools and Education. For the past 8 years the AOH has donated $26,500.00 from the Raffle to Local Charities.

With Mr. Dan Caffrey from left, are All Saints students Loreal Williams and Akiah Moore; Ken Soistman, the school’s principal, and Francine Conway, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools.

Dooley Division Members with Virginia Governor McDonnell and Irish Ambassador Michael Collins. Dooley Division members were invited for a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion as the First Family of Virginia were planning their trip to Ireland this summer. Jack Cassells, founding member of Dooley Division gave them some great travel tips gleaned from his many trips to Ireland.

Pictured (L to R) Pat Naughton, JP Carroll, Irish Ambassador Michael Collins, Governor Bob McDonnell and Hugh Naughton.

Virginia News

The Commonwealth of Virginia continues to be very busy.  After many years our State Organizer Brother Paul McFadden organized a new division in Powhatan, Virginia named for Msgr. Charles A. Kelly, Jr.  Congratulations to the Charter Division President Michael McGee and his newly elected officers.  On April 24, 2010 as part of our State Meeting we conducted a Shamrock Degree by the Major Dooley Degree Team and the Major Degree by the Brian Boru Degree Team.  There were 35 Brothers who received their Degrees.  We are all looking forward to the upcoming National Convention.

Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day – The Virginia AOH initiated action to formally recognize past, current, and future contributions of Vietnam and Vietnam-era military veterans resident in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They suggested a bill that would annually proclaim 30 March as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” and encourage observance of that day with ceremonies and activities that promote recognition of the contributions of those involved in the Vietnam conflict. It was on 30 March 1973, that the United States Armed Forces completed the withdrawal of combat troops from Vietnam.  District 30 Delegate Ed Scott agreed to champion this legislation.  As a result, House Joint Resolution Number 136 now designates March 30 as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day in Virginia to celebrate the service and numerous contributions of the Commonwealth’s Vietnam-era veterans.”  The resolution notes that more than 58,000 members of the United States Armed Forces, including 1,304 Virginians, lost their lives in Vietnam and more than 300,000 members of the Armed Forces were wounded.  Further, the resolution notes that more than 262,000 Vietnam veterans currently reside in the Commonwealth.  Delegate Ed Scott presented a framed copy of the joint resolution at the VA AOH state meeting in Richmond on 24 April.

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The Commonwealth of Virginia has continued to be very busy. After many years we have organized a new division in Powhatan, Virginia named for Msgr. Charles A. Kelly, Jr.  Congratulations to charter Division President Michael McGee and his newly elected officers.  We continue to have more and more St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Alexandria, Manassas, Virginia Beach/Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke and Fredericksburg.

On March 15th we had our 31st annual Gaelic Mass in honor of Saint Patrick sponsored by Col. John Fitzgerald Division #1 Arlington at St. Charles Catholic Church. The Gaelic Mass chairman was past State President Jim Carmody. The Celebrant for the Gaelic Mass was Reverend Gerald Creedon from County Cork, Ireland.

On January 23rd during our quarterly state meeting hosted by the Col. Thomas J. Cunninham Division, it’s founding Brother, Edwin (Ned) Woisard was honored by the Virginia State Board as the recipient of the 2009 Virginia Hibernian of the Year. Ned has served in numerous capacities at both the Division and State Levels and has been a stalwart supporter of all the AOH programs and initiatives throughout his 24 year membership.

On January 23rd Major Dooley Division had their annual wreath laying ceremony of their namesake Major Dooley.  Major James Henry Dooley was the son of Irish immigrants John and Sarah Dooley. He was born in Richmond, Virginia, one of nine children. His Father, John Dooley, Sr. was a successful hat manufacturer. The Dooley family was prominent in the community and the Parish of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. After the wreath laying ceremony Dr. Lynn Baylis took the group on a walking tour of the Italian garden. The Dooley’s brought back a gazebo on a ship from a vacation in Italy.

Ned Woisard is Virginia Hibernian of the Year

On January 23, during the recent quarterly State business meeting, hosted by the COL Thomas J. Cunningham Division, its founding member, Brother Edwin (Ned) Woisard was honored by the State Board as the recipient of the 2009 Virginia Hibernian of the Year.  Ned has served in numerous capacities at both the Division and State levels and has been a stalwart supporter of all AOH programs and initiatives throughout his 24 year membership. Ned was a Charter member of the Cardinal Cushing Division and throughout his 12 years with that Division he served in various leadership and committee chairmanship positions.  Brother Ned parlayed his experience and vision into the founding of the Colonel Thomas J. Cunningham Division of the AOH in 1998, thus expanding the Order to Loudoun County, one of the fastest growing counties in the Commonwealth, as well as the United States.  While others assisted, it was his personal determination that made the Cunningham Division a reality.  In Ned’s spirit, the Division has become a successful and vibrant organization that has significantly contributed to the local community and our membership parishes.  Ned is always there to assist all of the Division’s officers, Committee Chairmen, and general membership in all of their functions and responsibilities. This should not be a surprise to any, as Ned is a World War II veteran and a member of the exclusive club that Tom Brokaw refers to as the “Greatest Generation.”  Ned has not slowed down a bit; if anything he has accelerated his enthusiasm for not just the AOH, but our Holy Catholic Church and country.  Congratulations Ned!

(L to R) Gene Bransfield (State Treasurer), Chuck Curran (State Vice President), John O’Hara (Div. President), Ned Woisard, Rich Aleksy (State President), Bruce Denault (State Rec. Secretary), J.J. Kelly (National Veterans Committee Chairman)