March 15 was truly a great day in Austin, Texas, as Ireland and Texas strengthened centuries old ties during the opening of the Consulate General of Ireland. The rugged frontier of Texas contrasts the rolling green hills of Ireland yet the history of the Lonestar State is intimately entwined with the Irish from the battles fought at the Alamo and San Jacinto to communities established by the Irish such as the “Irish Flat” in what is now downtown San Antonio. The Consulate General of Ireland provides a broad range of consular services for Irish citizens in the area and is something of a beacon of faithful support of the historic ties between these two cultures. On the Irish community in Austin and the United States the website of the Consulate states: “Ireland is lucky to have a diaspora who makes a meaningful contribution to our country, whether they’re building economic development, raising awareness of our culture or creating a positive image of Ireland here in the United States of America.”
That state of Texas is known for its rebellious and confident nature, and is steadily becoming a breeding ground for the Gaelic Games. The spirit of the games, including Gaelic football, hurling, camogie and handball, is that of saoirse, emblazoned and empowered by an invincible Irish mentality. This mentality sits well in the rugged landscape of Texas, and the formation of four Gaelic clubs in the state over the last couple of years is testament to the fact. San Antonio has become one of those breeding grounds.
The San Antonio Gaelic Athletics Club (SAGAC) found one of its first sponsors in the AOH of San Antonio, continuing a tradition of Catholic support that began with the formation of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The GAA was founded on All Saints Day in 1884 in County Tipperary. It grew out of the need for Irish culture not to be “forgotten altogether” (Orejan 47) during a time when British occupation was the norm, and Irish sports were frowned upon or banned completely. The original two founding members, Michael Cuzak and Maurice Davin, recognized a need to “establish the support of some prestigious patrons” (Orejan 47) and turned to the Catholic Church. They found their patron in the archbishop of Cashel, Dr. Thomas Croke, who provided much needed momentum. The AOH has provided much of the SAGAC’s momentum, and many of the SAGAC players are also brothers in the AOH Columkille Division in San Antonio.
Currently, the SAGAC consists of a male Gaelic football team, but plans to start a women’s team and develop a program for children to learn the game in the near future. This season the club, known as the Defenders, finds itself locked in battle with teams from Austin, Dallas and Houston, in the newly formed Texas Cup tournament. This September they will also be travelling to Philadelphia in support of the North American GAA Football championships.
Dr. Jaime Orejan writes in “The History of Gaelic Football and the Gaelic Athletic Association” that “the love affair between the Irish and the game they have nurtured through the ages shows no sign of fading” and the growing popularity of football in San Antonio testifies to this. There is a very bright future for the Gaelic games in Ireland and abroad because the Irish people, from all over the world, refuse to let them die. For more information on the SAGAC, visit www.sanantoniogac.org.
Orejan, Jaime. “The History of Gaelic Football and the Gaelic Athletic Association.” The Sport Management and Related Topics Journal Spring 2006: 45-51. Web.
The brothers of the Columcille Division, San Antonio, Texas, are honored to announce the ordination to the permanent diaconate of Daniel T. McShane.
Dan was born in Chicago and grew up in St. Louis. He graduated from the University of Missouri–Columbia in 1975 and married Sherri Chandler later that year. He began a career in the railroad industry that brought him to a variety of assignments around the country. McShane came to San Antonio in1991 when he was named a vice president of RailTex, Inc., the world’s largest regional railroad holding company. Dan and Sherri have two children, Sara Coons and Patrick McShane.
Dan has been permanently assigned to St. Pius X Church in San Antonio. He works full-time as its pastoral associate, managing the business office and operations of the parish. Prior to his ordination, Dan served as an acolyte at Mass, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, a lector, trains and schedules lectors for the parish and presides at a weekly Word and Communion service at a nursing home in the parish boundaries.
He regularly presides at funeral vigils and graveside committals. He is the spiritual director for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Conference, assists with RCIA and taught confirmation preparation and spiritual formation to the seventh-grade students in the parish school. Dan is also a member of the Fourth Degree in the Knights of Columbus.
The Columcille brothers gave Deacon Dan a Celtic cross stole at the reception.
May Dan’s service to Christ and his fellow man be filled with love and compassion and may he live a long, holy life bound by the Breastplate of St. Patrick, our glorious apostle.
The Brothers of the Columcille Division, San Antonio, Texas are honored to announce the ordination to Holy Priesthood of Patrick Gabriel Higgins, on Saturday, June 26th, 2010. The ordination took place at Corpus Christi Cathedral, Corpus Christi, Texas by The Most Reverend William Michael Mulvey, Bishop of the Diocese of Corpus Christi. Patrick is the son of Gabriel and Bernadette Higgins of Castlegar, a suburb on the east side of Galway City. In addition to his parents, and brothers, Donal and Declan, and approximately fifty relatives from Ireland, the pastor of St. Columba’s, Patrick’s home parish in Castlegar, Father Michael Reilly, also attended the ordination. Father Reilly presented Patrick his first chalice. Patrick’s sister Orla, who lives in Australia, was unable to attend. The Columcille Division presented Patrick his first chasuble. Patrick celebrated his first Mass on Sunday, June 27th, at Most Precious Blood, a church in Corpus Christi where he had assisted while a deacon. His first assignment will be as associate pastor at St. Patrick’s in Corpus Christi, a church which had an earlier pastor named Father Patrick Gabriel Higgins, also a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, but unrelated to Patrick. Some of our older brothers may recall that Bishop Thomas Drury, a former AOH National Chaplain and the celebrant of the opening Mass of the 1982 AOH national convention in San Antonio, Texas, was the Bishop of the Diocese of Corpus Christi. Father Patrick has promised that he will revive the long dormant AOH division in Corpus Christi during his first year at St. Patrick’s. May your service to Christ and your fellow man be filled with love and compassion and may you live a long, holy life bound by the Breastplate of St. Patrick our glorious apostle.