National Secretary Jere Cole

National Secretary Jere Cole

 

Brothers,

The Christmas Season is upon us and we will soon begin the New Year. With all the celebrations it is often difficult to focus on everything the New Year brings including filing taxes and of course sending in your 2014 National per capita.

I have sent each division a printout of your division membership as of October 24, 2014. This was sent to the Financial Secretary of record during the end of October or early November. At the time we directed each division to verify and update all information is correct including spelling, address, etc. This was to assure your information was up to date before we print your 2015 membership cards and to assure every member receives the Hibernian Digest, etc.

At the same time, we are transitioning into a new computer system. Unfortunately many divisions received the list alphabetized by first name rather than by membership number. This issue has been corrected any of your updated cards will be sent in membership number order. Financial secretaries may contact me to receive this list in a PDF or an Excel format. In Excel you can sort the information various way. What is critical is that all updates are noted in a different color so we can make the adjustments in the national office.

Your division 2015 membership cards are on the way if we receive your updates or a written statement from you that states your membership information is up to date. If we did not get a response from your division, your 2015 cards have not been printed. Your divisions 2014 per capita is based on your membership as of December 31, 2014 and the number of members reported must be the numbers our records indicate on that same date.

Remember, all changes should be sent to me at P.O. Box 539, West Caldwell, NJ 07007. My email address is jcole4838@gmail.com.

We know that several divisions are changing officers as the year comes to an end. Please remember that an updated form 9 must be sent immediately to the National Office. We are requesting email address from all officers as well as telephone numbers. This is critical as we strive to improve our communications between the National Board and the local Divisions.

Remember, if you haven’t received your 2015 membership cards, they will only be printed and sent after we receive your updates. Our computer upgrades have been very positive, and we now need your valuable assistance to make this complete success. Please work with us as we experience some bumps in the road as we improve our system.

 

Yours in Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity,

Jere E. Cole, Jr

National Secretary

Director Jere Cole

It’s that time of year again! September is officially here. For some of you, that might not mean too much if you have been working and living life somewhat “normally” over the last few months. But for many of you, September brings with it a sense of newness, of renewal, of fresh beginnings. As the summer comes to a close, you may have children or grandchildren who have headed back to a new school year. You, yourself, may be a teacher or the teachers in your family have been prepping and preparing for the beginning of the school year. New programs may be starting in your town or at your church. Outside, even the environment has a sense of freshness to it. The air has already been getting cooler and we already have experienced a few mornings that have boasted crisp, autumn air!

This sense of renewal and beginning is refreshing! And it is one that we should attempt to harness in our own lives. As we continue our journey into the meaning of pro-life, this time of the year is an appropriate one to think about what pro-life means for our own lives. How does pro-life intersect with your life? By this question, I do not mean what activities are you involved in that support pro-life. If pro-life means that “every human life is sacred from conception to natural death” and “life and dignity of every person must be respected and protected at every stage and in every condition” (www.usccb.org), how are we respecting and protecting our very own lives at every stage and condition? The mandate for pro-life is not just a mandate for how we treat others, but it is a mandate for how we treat ourselves as well.

This mandate for pro-life in our own lives is reminiscent of Jesus’ statement in the Gospel of John: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10) Jesus tells us not that he has come just to give us life; he has come to give us life to the full.  I don’t know about you, but if I can have “life to the full,” then I want it! So how do we start to live a life to the full?

One of the practices that is beneficial in living life to the full is St. Ignatius of Loyola’s “Discernment of the Spirits.” While he was convalescing from battle injuries, St. Ignatius noticed different “interior movements” as he imagined his future. He believed that these interior movements were caused by both good and evil spirits. Being able to discern them was a way to understand God’s will or desire for us in our lives. He named these movements “consolation and desolation.” There were times that St. Ignatius felt very on fire with God’s love that he was impelled to praise, love and serve God and others. He called this a movement of “spiritual consolation.” In contrast, “spiritual desolation was a time that his soul felt in heavy darkness or turmoil. It was a time when he felt assaulted by doubts, temptations or preoccupations. During these times, he often felt cut off from others and from God.

We all have times of consolation and desolation in our lives. Part of living life to the full is to recognize these times. Where are these movements coming from and where are they leading you? The more we can discern these movements and the more we can recognize where they are coming from, the better we will understand how they all fit together and the better we will understand how to live life to the full. Take some time over the next month and try it. Where do you feel consolation and desolation in your life? Where is it coming from and where is it leading you? How can you use this knowledge to live life to the full? Blessings to you as your seek life to the full!

Director Jere Cole

“THE SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE”

 

One of the most controversial issues in the conversation about life is the use of the death penalty.  Is the death penalty a violation of the sanctity of life?  Or is it a necessity to the governance of our modern day society?  How do we go about building a framework to think about and to discuss the issue of the death penalty?

Let’s look at some statistics regarding the death penalty in the United States.

  • There are currently 33 states that have a death penalty and 17 states that do not.
  • There have been 1320 executions in the United States since 1976.
  • In 96% of states where there have been reviews of race and the death penalty, there was a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination, or both.
  • A report by the National Research Council, titled Deterrence and the Death Penalty, stated that studies claiming that the death penalty has a deterrent effect on murder rates are “fundamentally flawed “and should not be used when making policy decisions (2012).
  • A new study in California revealed that the cost of the death penalty in the state has been over $4 billion since 1978. (Alarcon & Mitchell, 2011).
  • In Maryland, an average death penalty case resulting in a death sentence costs approximately $3 million.

Taken from http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/FactSheet.pdf

So the death penalty ends lives, has racial undertones attached to it, is expensive, and is not proven to deter violence and murder in the states where it is in force.

These statistics are important to remember when building a framework for discussing the death penalty.  But, as Christians and as Catholics, our framework must also look to the basics of the biblical story: the sanctity of human life and the Kingdom of God’s emphasis on justice.  In the beginning of the Bible, humans are made in the image of God.  Therefore, all human life is sacred.  The Kingdom of God is present to protect the sanctity of human life and provide justice for all human beings.

What does this mean for the people of God?  If we are Jesus’ hands and feet, if our purpose is to build the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, then it is our responsibility to protect the sanctity of human life and to provide justice for all human beings.  The question then becomes, is retribution the way to protect human life and to provide justice?  Or does justice, according to the biblical story, have more of an entity of grace attached to it?  If we are a community that truly desires to promote human dignity at all stages of life, these are questions that are important to think and to pray about.

 

Catholic Action

There is a time for everything.  If you have ever thought about the church’s liturgical calendar, you can see just how true that statement is.  Just recently, we celebrated the wonderful mystery of Easter.  Christ is Risen!  Hallelujah!  Easter is a time of thanksgiving and blessing.  It is a time to celebrate the Risen Lord with family and friends.  But Easter comes after a very different season in our lives…the forty days of Lent.  Lent is a time of fasting, prayer and reflection.  It is often a time of turning inward, a time of personal sacrifice in remembrance of the ultimate sacrifice – Christ’s death on the cross for us.

As we reflect and remember Christ’s sacrifice, we prepare ourselves for the culmination of His story during Holy Week. Friday brings Jesus’ death.  But even as Friday comes with mourning, we have hope and expectancy, because there is a season for everything.  We hope and are expectant because we know that Sunday is coming and Jesus will rise from the dead!  And Sunday did come, bringing with it a new season – Eastertide.  Eastertide is the 50 days after Easter lasting from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.  It is a season of joy and of celebration!

What would happen if, in this season of celebration, we continued to remember the sacrifice of Jesus for all of us?  During Lent, we spent time looking inward in reflection of our own lives.  What if now we spent the 50 days of Eastertide turning outward to our neighbors, to our churches and to our communities?  In these Eastertide days, how can we recommit ourselves fully to the Ancient Order of Hibernians’ pledge to Catholic Action?  How can we reinvigorate our AOH programs?  What are some new initiatives that we may want to begin thinking about? This is a new season!  A time to celebrate!  A time to look outward!  Let’s make this our time, our season, to be bold and proactive in our AOH commitment to Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity!

Catholic Action

Although our official New Year begins in January, September always seems to be the “unofficial” beginning of a new season. Fresh from a summer hiatus, activities begin again. School starts up for the kids. Clubs and organizations begin to meet. The cool autumn air is crisp and clean. September even feels like the best time of year for a fresh start.

Although there is a sense of freshness in the air, the importance of history still remains. As we look forward to a new season in the Ancient Order of Hibernians, let’s take time to remember back to our roots and the cornerstones on which our Order is founded: Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity. This is the motto of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. These three characteristics are more than just words. They have profound meaning attached to them. This is the core, the essence, of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

 

The motto Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity has a strong and proud history as the foundation of our organization. The Ancient Order of Hibernians was founded in New York City on May 4, 1836, but it can trace its roots back to a parent organization of the same name, which has existed in Ireland for over 300 years. The Order evolved in the early 1600’s to protect the lives of priests as well as to aid and comfort the Irish people by whatever means available. Similarly, the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America was founded to protect the clergy and to help Irish Immigrants fleeing famine issues in Ireland in the late 1840’s.

Today, the Order of Ancient Hibernians continues to be committed to its motto of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity. We do this through a variety of ways. We provide aid to the newly arrived Irish. We foster and preserve Irish culture — art, dance, music and sports. We advocate for issues concerning the Irish.

 

Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity. In all of our actions, in all of our pursuits, these are the three elements that we ultimately want to encourage and inspire. As we look forward to a new season, let’s remember our heritage. As we remember back, let’s take stock of our current role in promoting our motto. As a community, think about the following questions:

ü  What is your division currently doing to encourage friendship, unity and Christian charity among your members and within your communities?

ü  What are ways that your division can strengthen its commitment to friendship, unity and Christian charity this coming year?

ü  Does your personal commitment to friendship, unity and Christian charity extend outside your division into your daily life?

As Hibernians, our tradition is to build friendship, to promote unity and to practice Christian charity in all aspects of our lives. As we start this new season, let’s keep this tradition strong and growing!

Catholic Action

Have you ever been in a situation where you just did not know what to do? Where, no matter how long and hard you thought about it, you could not seem to come up with a solution, with a direction, with an answer? And then, while talking about it with someone, that person was able to give you some words of wisdom that seemed to break through the fog and give you a clearer picture of the next step?

All of us have been in situations where someone has given us words of wisdom. We also have been bearers of words of wisdom to others. Words of wisdom are invaluable tools on the journey of life. Taking time out to listen to someone and then to speak into his or her life from your own experience is an act of compassion and of intimacy. Discerning words allow us to come alongside one another and walk through life’s ups and downs together.

This month, look for ways that you might be able to share a wise word with someone.  First, make sure to listen actively. Actively listening means taking the time to truly listen to what someone is telling you. Let them talk freely. Ask good questions to help that person clarify the situation for you and for him or herself as well. Do not be afraid to share your own thoughts and experiences. Just as someone once helped you by sharing their wisdom and experience, your own words will also lift up someone else. So give someone the gift of a wise word this month!

Catholic Action

Radical Reconciliation

Director Jere Cole with Cardinal Wuerl in Washington, DC

There are certain themes in life that continuously challenge us.  Reconciliation is one of those themes. Reconciliation.  It is a simple word, but the emotions it evokes are anything but simple.  For some, it may induce a sense of peace, with thoughts of the last time you were able to reconcile successfully with someone.  But for many, it stirs up the opposite.  Images of those with whom we have yet to be reconciled.  Anguish thinking of those with whom we believe we will never be reconciled.  Why is reconciliation such an emotional concept?

Reconciliation is so emotional because it goes completely against our innate human nature.  As human beings, we want to protect what is ours.  We want to be right.  We want to be apologized to, not apologize to someone else.  If we are completely honest with ourselves, it is against our nature to be humble enough to initiate a process of reconciliation.  And that makes reconciliation very difficult.

Reconciliation that is truly authentic is radical.  It requires humbling ourselves before another.  Admitting we are wrong.  Giving up our own pride.  Being the one to take the first step.  Connecting with someone from whom we are alienated.  But here is the most significant part of radical reconciliation: it was what Jesus modeled through his own life and death on the cross.  Jesus’ mission was based on radical reconciliation.  He went to the cross for it.  Jesus’ death and resurrection reconciled us to God.  His life taught us how to reconcile ourselves to one another.

Brothers, as Christians, we are called to be disciples of Jesus.  Therefore, radical reconciliation must be a part of our lives.  What emotions does reconciliation evoke for you?  Does reconciliation challenge you?  It is time to step up to that challenge.  Who is one person in your life that you need to be reconciled with?  Can you humble yourself to take the first step?  This month, challenge yourself to figure out what that first step of reconciliation is for you….and then be radical enough to walk out in it!

Catholic Action

What comes to your mind when you think of Lent?  Perhaps you think of giving up eating meat on Fridays.  Or the usual candy, sweets or ice cream that you give up every year.  Maybe you are reminded of getting ashes on Ash Wednesday or even look forward to the Easter celebration with family at the end of the Lenten season.

For most people, these are normal things that they think of when preparing to enter the Lenten season.  But why do we do these things during Lent?  Are they just part of our yearly ritual?  Or do they really make a difference?

Well, it depends.  During Lent, we give up things in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross.  Whether we give up something that truly makes us remember his sacrifice is really only something that we ourselves can determine.  Maybe giving up candy or sweets reminds you daily about what it means to sacrifice.  But, would it be more sacrificial for you to give up other things in your life – things closer to your heart?  What if you decided to change the manner in which you talk to a loved one?  Or if you decided to reconcile with a person from whom you are estranged?  What about working on that attitude of frustration, impatience or anger?

Or what if you gave up some of your time?  The season of Lent is based on the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert right after he was baptized.  We know that Jesus was tempted by the devil during this time.  But it also seems likely that in the desert – a place of solitude and quiet – Jesus was communing with God in an intimate way as he prepared for his ministry.  Lent is based on this time of solitude.  Just as Christ went to the desert to prepare, the Lenten season is a period of preparation for us.  Wouldn’t it seem appropriate then that we would take time out to be in solitude with God?

Changing attitudes or carving out time with God may not be the things we naturally think of when we begin to get close to Lent.  But Lent gives us an opportunity to go beyond our normal rituals and to experience God in an even deeper way.  In the desert, like Jesus, we come face to face with Him and with ourselves.  It is often a difficult place to be.  Jesus, after all, was tempted by the devil during His time in the desert.  But God prepared him during that time of solitude to face and to deny those temptations.  You see, when you seek God with all your heart, you will find him.

As we begin to prepare for this Lenten season, will you challenge yourself to go deeper with God?  If you do, I can promise that you will be blessed.

 

 

Writing Your Story in the New Year

The holidays are over and a new year is upon us.  This time of year always presents an interesting opportunity to take stock of our lives.  Whether you believe in the proverbial “New Year’s Resolutions” or not, there is something refreshing about being able to look back at the previous year and also to dream about the new year upon us.  It is like rereading the previous chapter in the book of your life, and then looking at the blank page of the upcoming chapter that is ready to be filled.  What exciting possibilities lie ahead!

As we enter 2011, why not give yourself one more Christmas gift this year?  The gift of time.  First, take some time to think about this past year.  What have you done to fulfill the Hibernian motto of “Friendship, Unity and True Christian Charity?”  What actions did you commit to and fulfill during the course of 2010?  This is not a time to criticize yourself about things that you may have failed to accomplish, but a time to remember the things you were able to do.  How did you help to promote friendship and unity, as well as to show true Christian charity to others?

After taking stock of 2010, think about the upcoming year.  What are some of those actions from this past year that you would like to continue into 2011?  What are some resolutions that you wanted to fulfill this past year, but were not able to accomplish?  Can you commit to them in the upcoming year?  It is also a time to think about new actions you would like to commit to during the upcoming year.  What is a new commitment that you would like to make this year as a Hibernian?

The page is fresh to begin writing your story for 2011.  How can “Friendship, Unity and True Christian Charity” continue to be a part of your life theme for this year?  Give yourself the gift of time to really think about it.  Let God use you this year in new and exciting ways.  And may He richly bless you in 2011!

Catholic Action

A Time of Harvest

The air is crisp.  The leaves are turning bright colors of red, orange and yellow.  Fall is in full bloom.  For many of us, this colorful season is a time of gathering, a time of harvest.  We pick the apples off the trees in the orchard.  We gather the fallen leaves on the ground.  We commune around the table for festive family celebrations.  It is a natural time to reap the blessings of seeds we have sown.  It is a time to store up and prepare for the winter to come.

But is this time of harvest just meant for ourselves and our loved ones?  Or does it have a deeper, communal meaning?  The theme of the harvest is found throughout the Bible.  In the first five books of the Bible, God creates the world and the creatures that dwell in it.  As humans begin to settle on the land, God gives them a guidebook on how to live together in a way that is pleasing to Him.  Throughout this guidebook, it is more than evident that God desires His creation to treat each other with loving kindness.  In fact, it is clear in the laws of the Old Testament that God expects His people to act with justice and mercy towards one another.

Within these laws promoting justice and mercy, the harvest is specifically mentioned.  During the time of harvest, God tells His people, “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 9:9-10)  Why does God include this?  He is making sure that all people are provided for, especially those that are not able to provide for themselves.  When reaping the harvest, God tells his children not to think only of themselves, but of their neighbors in need.  Living in loving-kindness within a community means taking care of one another.

In this season when we celebrate the harvest, when we gather together with our families around the table, let us remember that God tells us not to reap to the very edge of our fields without concern for others.  He tells us to look out into our communities and to provide for the poor, for the stranger.  Perhaps there is a family in your neighborhood that could use a nice, hot meal.  Do you know of a food bank or soup kitchen that would benefit greatly from your donation of food or time?  Maybe there is room at your Thanksgiving table to invite someone that would love the company of a family.  As you begin to harvest your blessings this fall, think about how you can share them with someone else.