Minnesota News

As part of their spring Catholic Action project, the Hennepin County Ladies collected items for the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery. This program assists parents who find themselves in the midst of a crisis and offers counseling and a safe environment for their children.  For their fall project, the ladies collect donations for uniforms for students at Ascension Catholic Grade School.

(Pictured left to right: Kitty Calhoun, Nancy Thue, Kathy Dudon, Susan Harvieux, Patty Johanning, Eileen Kjorstad)

 

MINNESOTA NEWS

 

Director’s Report

It is hard to believe that December is here and that this year is almost over. With the year’s end, we all have lots to do in our Divisions. By now your elections are over and your new officers are ready to begin their duties. Thanks to all retiring Division officers for your hard work during your terms of office. Remember to get in your election and per capita reports to your County, State and National secretaries. These forms will facilitate our efforts in providing the proper information to the right people in all jurisdictions.

Keep sending in your Charities and Missions reports to me. Our Order needs to show our works on a national level. Please go to our website at www.aoh.com and print out our forms for your charitable events. The reports are self-explanatory. Fill in all requested information and send to me.

Remember to be sure that the donation you are reporting is, in fact, a charitable cause and not simply a donation. List the charity benefited in your report. Man-hours should only be reported when they are worked supporting a recognized charitable organization or event. Donations to the AOH National Board and Hibernian Charity managed funds such as FFAI, Project St. Patrick, National History Day, Hibernian Hunger, etc., are encouraged. Donations to scholarship funds are also acceptable. Don’t forget to inform your local newspaper and your church bulletins of your good works. Have information on our Order readily available at your functions. Use these as an organizing tool to bring in new members.

Please remember that in working to help those in need in your community, that no effort is too small. If you organize a function or make a donation in accordance with our guidelines, we want to hear from you.

Any questions, call or email me at  norrisaoh@aol.com or (570) 323-7789. I want to wish all Beannachtai na Nollag daoibh.

2011 Christmas Appeal

I appeal to those who historically support our appeal to continue your support. But I want to target the 75 percent of divisions that do not give and ask that you consider giving this year.

In April, I received a request from the Connecticut AOH /LAOH convention to make a presentation regarding Freedom For All Ireland and specifically the yearly Christmas appeal. This request afforded me the opportunity to prepare a detailed look into the history and performance of our yearly appeal. The result was that I developed a presentation that I have been honored to present at several conventions this summer. It gives a brief history of the AOH and our support of a United Ireland, it traced our involvement and support of the struggle for Irish freedom from the end of the 19th century to today, it reviewed the groups we support, where the funds go, and why those funds are still so important.

In the last 10 years the Christmas Appeal has raised over $570,000. This is a number that we can all be proud of. An analysis of the donations show that we have a dedicated core group of donors who fund a great portion of the appeal and a participation rate from AOH divisions that is surprising low. Last year’s appeal served as a perfect case in point. The 2010 appeal generated just under $61,000 and, of that, almost two thirds — or about $40,000 — was the result of 25 donations from boards, divisions and one individual. All of these 25 donations were all over $1,000. The final $21,000 was the result of 157 donations of less than $1,000 and raffle returns of almost $2,000.  Whether the donation was $5 to $6,500 all donations are greatly appreciated and the sacrifice noted. The alarming result of this analysis is that nationally, out of 370 AOH divisions, only 96 contributed or a disappointing 25 percent.

So this year, 2011, I want to once again appeal to those who historically support our appeal to continue your support. But I want to target the 75 percent of divisions that do not give and ask that you consider giving this year.

Consider giving because: The third principle of our national constitution’s preamble states one of the purposes of our organization is: To aid and advance by all legitimate means the aspirations and endeavors of the Irish people for complete and absolute independence, promoting peace (with justice) and unity for all Ireland. Our Christmas appeal helps work toward “One Island, One Ireland with Justice for All.” Be a part of it. The groups we support are helping to build confidence and trust in cross-community and reconciliation efforts.

Consider giving because: Our job is not finished in the North until there is a United Ireland inclusive of all people’s rights. The groups we support are fighting for these rights and justice for those who have been deprived of rights and truth in the past.

Consider giving because: there are ex-republican prisoners who spent large portions of their lives unjustly jailed. They never once complained about their situation, rather these men and women have returned to the communities they were fighting for and defending, to make their communities better. These ex- prisoner groups we support continue to need our help to overcome decades of injustice and prejudice.

Consider giving because: there are ex Irish republican prisoners in this country who have never received a peace dividend for supporting the Good Friday Agreement and helping promote peace in the North. These men — even after living in this country for over two decades as model citizens, without a mark on their records, having paid taxes and raised children who are American citizens — still live with the uncertainty of never knowing when and if they could be denied continued residence. They need our continued support.

Consider giving because: there are more children in the North of Ireland today speaking the Irish language than there has been in generations. Despite the best efforts by those who continue to use subtle forms of discrimination, the Irish language is experiencing a revival in the North. The groups we support are helping continue this renaissance.

Consider giving because: a society that is evolving from over three decades of war needs support to overcome some of the collateral damage of those times. We have supported community groups who have tried to reduce suicides, fund after-school programs for the most economically deprived and provide counseling for those who still deal with the grief and the loss of many years ago.

Finally, consider giving because: if we don’t, no one else will. The sad fact of the matter is that the great majority of the groups we help do not have many other avenues for funding.  This makes the dollars they receive so critical. I do not want to take one penny away from any of the charities we support with our divisions and boards; I only ask that you make it a point this year to give something to the Christmas Appeal. Thank you for your consideration.

 

Notes: Christmas Appeal packets should be in divisions and boards by the time this edition is published, the packet will also be available online in a PDF at www.aoh.com , then from the left hand side of page choose national programs, then choose Freedom for All Ireland… Included in the packet and online will be information on the 2012 Trip to the North (formerly Bloody Sunday Tour)…. Thanks to all those divisions that donated over $1,000 to last year’s appeal for your patience in receiving your recognition award. The company that had provided the customized hurling sticks went out of business unexpectedly. All $1,000 donors have received a beautiful framed print entitled Vindicated, Bloody Sunday. A very limited amount of prints ($25) and framed prints ($75) will be available for purchase the weekend of the National President’s dinner. To reserve your copy email paddyspeed@yahoo.com ….Many thanks to the Brothers and Sisters in Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland who invited me to their conventions to give the FFAI/Christmas appeal presentation ….Congratulations to Clara Reilly, the Sean MacBride award winner.

President’s Message

Brothers, as I sit here writing this column there is about 2 feet of snow outside of my window, Christmas has passed and I am looking forward to the New Year. Since I last wrote my column I have received many Christmas greetings from you the members and I thank you so much, also numerous communications about the Medal of Honor Grove which was the big story in the last edition. We have been receiving some donations to fix up the grove and have begun to have some repairs done.  I have received inquiries from many states who want to get dates when they can come and fix up their plots and install flag poles etc. We have nothing definite set up yet but hopefully we will get some dates put aside when we meet with the Freedom’s Foundation early in the new year. As soon as we get information we will notify all the officers on the National Board and all the State presidents so you will be informed as soon as possible.

I met with two representatives, Joe Cavanagh and Bob Hausmann, from Harris Connect who work with non profit organizations throughout the country. One of their functions is to compile information supplied by members, put it in book form and sell the book to anyone who wants to purchase it. The idea of a member, division, county board or state board writing articles or having pictures of functions throughout the years published in a book along with history of that division or state or anything else a member would like to share with the world is worth looking into and it is free for us to supply this information.  They make their money when the book is sold and we will get a percent of the profits. I will meet with them again when I get input from the rest of the board.

I attended many functions over the past two months including my own Division 39’s annual Communion Breakfast and on Veterans Day we held our annual mass for the veterans. Many more divisions are having these types of masses over the past few years and as we all know our troops need all the masses and prayers they can get. I also had the privilege of attending and participating in the presentations to the recipients of the Four Chaplain’s awards at the Chapel of the Four Chaplains at the old Navy Yard in Philadelphia. I also attended the exemplification of the major degrees by the Isle of Erin major degree team where over 60 members came into the ranks of the degreed and over 50 observers who we want to thank especially those who traveled from NJ and Delaware and other parts of the tri state area. The Philadelphia Firefighters John Redmond Division 22 was the host for the degrees and everyone had a great time.

I also attended a meeting with the new Consul General of Ireland, Noel Kilkenny, at the consulate in New York, accompanied by State president’s Jere Cole – NJ, Denny Donnelly – PA, Chip McLean – NY, past National President Ned McGinley and National Vice President Brendan Moore. It was the first chance that the AOH, as a group, had a chance to sit down with the new Consul General and go over our issues and how we, as an organization, could help the Government of Ireland help the Irish immigrants living in this country. It was a very open and productive meeting and we agreed to continue to meet on a regular basis in the future.

I also held a conference call with the Officers, Directors and all State Presidents. It was an informative meeting and many issues were discussed and we will continue to have these meetings on a quarterly basis. I attended an annual Mass in New Jersey for all Hibernians who died on 9/11. This Mass was well attended by the AOH and LAOH of NJ and others from around the area. It was celebrated in the chapel at Seton Hall University which is a beautiful chapel and a great job was done by the New Jersey state board. I attended the New York State board President’s dinner in Staten Island honoring President Chip McLean and past state president Matt Nelligan also received an award . It was a chance for me to meet with many of the brothers I had not seen for some time and again a great job done by the committee and the NY State Board. I attended the PA State Board meeting in Harrisburg PA and again had the chance to meet many of my brothers who I do not get to see as often as I would like. I thanked them for their help in cleaning up the Medal of Honor Grove at Valley Forge and for their very generous donation toward the upkeep of the Grove.

As has been our custom here in Philadelphia for the past 18 years, a group of volunteers from Division 39 assembled at 5 a.m., 2 weeks before Christmas and erected the Christmas Crèche in front of City Hall. This crèche was the brainchild of our past division and County Chaplain, Fr Thomas Doyle S.J, and was built and maintained by the members of Division 39, and the figurines and storage is done by the K of C. Much of this is due to the efforts of Tony Nahill AOH and John Stanton K of C. Both of these men deserve our gratitude and thanks as well as all the men who help erect and dismantle it each year. For anyone who happens to be in Philadelphia, the crèche is located across the street from city hall in Love Park and is viewed by thousands of people annually. Our logo and the Kof C logo appear on the front panel so we do get our name exposed so people know who we are and what we do.

Brothers many of you are well aware of a gruesome find just outside Philadelphia a few years ago which became known as “Duffy’s Cut”. The story goes that a group of 57 Irish Immigrants from Donegal, Tyrone and Derry arrived in Philadelphia in June of 1832 aboard the ship “John Stamp”. They were hired right off the dock by a fellow Irishman named Phillip Duffy to work on the Philadelphia Columbia railroad. He brought them there to complete the most expensive and dangerous mile on the entire stretch of railroad line. Duffy’s Cut is about 30 miles west of Philadelphia in a place called Malvern and today digging continues to unearth the bodies of those men who were buried there in a mass grave over 175 years ago. The local claim was that these men developed Cholera and died within eight weeks of their arrival here and were buried in a mass grave at the turn at Duffy’s Cut. Legend and folklore in the area has it that for years after their death, on more than one occasion, ghosts were seen dancing on top of the grave of these Irishmen.

On December 3rd 2010, just a few weeks ago, 2 members of my Division, Kevin Kilkenny, Tom Quinn and myself, met with William Watson, the head of the History Department at Immaculata University, who has been researching and doing an archaeological dig at the site for the past 6 or 7 years, showed us some of the artifacts and other materials they have recovered. Bill Watson and his twin Brother, Rev. Frank Watson, heard stories from their grandfather who worked for the railroad, about these Irishmen who were buried and the folklore around the Mainline about their deaths. After the death of their grandfather they went through a box of files owned by him and came across documents pertaining to the site. By 2004 the twins had assembled enough documented evidence of the deaths to have a historical marker placed on the site. They unearthed over 1000 artifacts from the camp which included clay pipes with Irish Logo’s, a bowl with the words “Flag of Ireland” and many other Irish items but no bodies or remains. In 2007, Geophysicist Timothy Bechtel, brought in a sophisticated ground penetrating radar machine which x-rayed the area and in 2009 the first set of human remains were found. Since then they have found six more remains and as we left the site on Friday afternoon December 3rd Mr. Watson informed us that the x-ray machine would be back on the site the following Sunday for another scope of work. He also showed us a huge tree under which they know that another body is buried but they can not remove the remains until they get permission to cut down the tree so they can remove all the remains.           Many of the remains already recovered show that they did not all die from Cholera but were in fact murdered probably by vigilantes who did not want any of the 57 men leaving the valley in case they did have cholera. At least one scull has a bullet hole and many of the others have similar holes and also other markings of blunt force trauma to the face and head.

Bill Watson told us it is his life long project now to find the remains of all of these immigrants, collect their remains, identify them if possible and give them a proper burial. At least one person has been identified and his relatives in Ireland want to take his remains home to be buried in Donegal. West Mount Laurel cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, just outside Philadelphia, has agreed to take the rest of these remains and make sure they have a proper burial. In the meantime the Watson’s and their volunteers will continue to look for more remains and try to identify them. They are doing this on their own with no grant money from anywhere, all the work is voluntary and some of us who have an interest in the outcome will certainly try to raise funds as some money is needed for outside work and other things needed to complete the project  For more information you can Google on Duffy’s cut.

I, as well as many of you, plan on attending the March for Life in Washington DC on January 24th and I know I will again see many of you there. The paper will probably be out prior to the march but we will have a story in the following edition. I also intend traveling to Derry for the Bloody Sunday march and the FFAI presentations to the various groups who still need our support. This also will be reported on in the next edition of the Digest.

Our church and our priests are under attack by a group of sick people who have reared their ugly head here in Philadelphia. Last week we were informed that a group of protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) in Topeka Kansas were going to protest in front of two of our Catholic High Schools, Father Judge and Archbishop Ryan high schools, and a Jewish center, at different times on December 20th. What we did discover, after some investigation, was they picked our schools apparently because they are high schools taught by priests, and they wanted to attack our priests. Father Judge High School, my alma mater, also has erected a monument, many years ago, recognizing the 27 graduates who lost their lives in Viet Nam, the most of any high school in the country.

They are a hate group who protest all over the country at veterans funerals coming home from Iraq & Afghanistan. They hate Jews, Catholics, gays, Blacks and basically everyone except themselves. They did show up with their filthy hateful signs, such as, Priests rape boys, only good soldiers are dead soldiers, God is your enemy, Thank God for dead soldiers and many more signs more disgusting than these. The police department was warned in advance that if they did not protect them, (the protesters about 10 of them) that they would be sued. Apparently this is how these people make their money to travel all over the country demonstrating, by suing people. At this demonstration there were about 200 police protecting them and about 500 of us counter protesters including vets, Kof C and of course the AOH was there in strength also. Everything went quietly but the protesters were shocked that we came out in such force to protect our priests and our faith. We counter protesters admire our police force who had to be there because they have a job to do.

Below is a snippet of the WBC protesters. Beware of these crazies in your communities. The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is an independent Baptist church known for its extreme stance against homosexuality and its protest activities, which include picketing funerals and desecrating the American flag. The church is widely described as a hate group and is monitored as such by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. It is headed by Fred Phelps and consists mostly of members of his large family; in 2007, it had 71 members. Located in a residential neighborhood on the west side of Topeka about three miles west of the Kansas State Capitol at 3701 West 12th Street, Topeka, Kansas, United States, its first public service was held on the afternoon of Sunday, November 27, 1955. The church has been actively involved in the anti gay movement since at least 1991 when it sought a crackdown on homosexual activity at Gage Park about a mile northwest of the church. In addition to anti gay protests at military funerals, the organization pickets other celebrity funerals that are likely to get it media attention. The WBC is not affiliated with any known Baptist conventions or associations. The church describes itself as following Primitive Baptist and Calvinist principles, though mainstream Primitive Baptists reject the WBC and Phelps.

Brothers this will be the last edition before St. Patrick’s Day and I wish you all a very happy St Patrick’s Day. Remember that this is the month that we see all the shirts, hats mugs etc that portray us as drunks and worse, so if you see any of these please ask the store owner or manager to remove it as it is offensive to you and the Irish people as a whole. Please let Mike O’Connor, chairman of Anti Defamation, know all the information on such materials so he can contact their corporate offices and try to get this garbage removed from the stores. Greeting cards are also part of the problem so check these out also; remember this is our heritage they are negatively depicting.

I am asking that this year you once again contact your politicians and get as many of our city and state officials to declare March as Irish American Heritage Month.

Last year we had numerous cities and states make and celebrate this month as well as our President declaring March as Irish American Heritage Month on a National level. Let’s do more this year by helping our IAHM Committee of JJ Kelly, Neil Cosgrove and Jack Schell, who have been working feverishly over the past three years to have March declared Irish American Heritage Month on a permanent basis. Hopefully this will be the year that we get it declared permanently.

Finally brothers on a very sad note we have lost two of our past LAOH National Presidents, Rita Murphy and Sally Murphy, whose wake I did attend in Baltimore and I have just found out that a past LAOH Chaplain, Fr. Francis Hanley, will be buried this week. Please keep them and their families in your prayers.

Director’s Report

The Holiday Season is over and our Big season will soon begin.  We as Hibernians know how to celebrate our Patron Saint’s Day.  We will have Masses, parades, parties and the like.  That is all great but let’s not forget our alms for the poor.  As we move into this season let’s not forget our charitable works.  As I stated in our last Digest issue, please go to our website at www.aoh.com and print out our forms for your charitable works.  The reports are self explanatory.  Fill in all the requested information and send them to me.

Remember to be sure that the donation you are reporting is in fact a charitable cause and not simply a donation.  List the charity benefited in your report.   Man-hours should only be reported when they are worked supporting a recognized charitable organization or event.  Donations to AOH National Board and Hibernian Charity managed funds such as FFAI, Project St. Patrick, Hibernian Hunger, etc. are encouraged.  Donations to scholarship funds are also acceptable.  Don’t forget to inform your local newspaper and church bulletins of your good works.  Have information on our Order with you at your functions.  Use these as an organizing tool to bring in new members.

Please remember that in working to help those in need in your community, no effort is too small.  If you organize a function or make a donation in accordance with our guidelines we want to hear from you.

Any questions, call or email me at;  norrisaoh@aol.com or 570-323-7789.

Adh mor oraibh agus Beannachtai na Phadraig daoibh.

Charities and Missions

It is hard to believe that December is here and that this year is just about over.  With the year’s end, we all have lots to do in our Divisions.  By now your elections are over and your new officers are ready to begin their duties.   Thanks to all retiring Division officers for your hard work during your terms in office.  Remember to get your election and per capita reports in to your county, state and national secretaries.  These forms will facilitate our efforts in providing the proper information to the right people in all jurisdictions.

Your Charities and Missions reports are starting to come in now.  I understand a lot of you don’t submit reports because you don’t want the recognition.  Please do not let that stop you.  I know that we were all raised not to flaunt our good works.  However, this is not just for you.  Our Order needs to show our works on a national level.  Please go to our website at www.aoh.com and print out our forms for your charitable works.  The reports are self explanatory.  Fill in all the requested information and send them to me.

Remember to be sure that the donation you are reporting is in fact a charitable cause and not simply a donation.  List the charity benefited in your report.   Man-hours should only be reported when they are worked supporting a recognized charitable organization or event.  Donations to AOH National Board and Hibernian Charity managed funds such as FFAI, Project St. Patrick, National History Day, Hibernian Hunger, etc are encouraged.  Donations to scholarship funds are also acceptable.  Don’t forget to inform your local newspaper and church bulletins of your good works.  Have information on our Order with you at your functions.  Use these as an organizing tool to bring in new members.

Please remember that in working to help those in need in your community, no effort is too small.  If you organize a function or make a donation in accordance with our guidelines we want to hear from you.

Any questions, call or email me at;  norrisaoh@aol.com or 570-323-7789.  I want to wish all a Merry Christmas and Beannachtai na Nollag daoibh.