“To be Irish is a Blessing, to be a Hibernian is an Honor.”

This quote is displayed with pride by many Hibernians on clothing, letterhead, newsletters, vehicles and much more, and rightfully so. Today, I stand before you as a Hibernian, blessed and honored.

Early Sunday morning, August 21, I was involved in a one-car accident that the state highway patrol claim I was lucky to survive. When my car slammed into a tree backwards off the interstate at over 60 miles per hour, I wasn’t lucky, I was blessed.

By the grace of God, I survived without even a broken bone. Many have commented that my hard Irish head saved me; I know it was God who placed an angel on my shoulder that day.

In my vehicle with me was my trusted laptop, including my Hibernian Digest article due to be sent later that morning to our new editor, John O’Connell. As I cleared the trauma team I asked my sister to call Seamus and let him know of the delay. When I learned she left a message I then insisted she call Sean Pender to be sure Brother O’Connell knew I would be delayed.

The result of these calls was prayers from my brothers, which without question led to a quick recovery. Special thanks to our new editor who allowed me some extra time to recreate my article.

I am sure we all have felt the blessing of the Irish over the years and understand what an Honor it is to stand with our Hibernian brothers. This is the basic fabric of recruiting new Hibernians from the ranks of the Irish Catholic men from around the country who have not yet received the honor of being a part of the Largest Irish Catholic Organization in the United States of America. In each article since I have become the National Organizer I have asked you to assist in growing our Order by recruiting one new member each and every year. The sales pitch is easy and the discussion should be centered on why the potential member is not a member. We need you to grow our Order and recruit at least one member each and every year.

I enjoyed the honor of attending many state conventions and presenting a recruiting PowerPoint addressing the recruiting process. At each stop I had the opportunity to share ideas, and with each stop we updated the presentation to reflect these new ideas.

I am currently working to place this updated presentation on a video that can then be used at the division level as well. I understand that many of us are unable to attend the convention, however also understand the important role that each and every Hibernian plays in the success of our Order. Once completed, we will place the video online and we will make efforts to get the DVD to each division.

In addition to the recruiting presentation, I am working with Sean Pender to get his FFAI presentation online as well. We recorded both presentations during the Maryland Convention as the first step in the process. I am hoping to find a few students from Youngstown State or a few Hibernian brothers to assist me in this project, since this is a bit beyond my talents. If you have any thoughts on the project or are able to assist, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Again, thank you for the prayers as I know your prayers have expedited my recovery. Remember, recruit a new member today and, as always, contact me if I can be of any assistance to you. God Bless, Danny O  cell 330-518-4450


Chaplain’s Report

At times, the month of March has an identity crisis. March does not know whether to be lamb-like or lion-like, whether it is still winter or starting to blossom into spring.  In the northern part of our country a day could be in the seventies or there could be three feet of snow as there was fifteen years ago when the Irish in Pittsburgh marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade despite the blizzard. There are many historical figures who would like to forget the month of March entirely. You can be sure that Julius Caesar would like to forget the Ides of March when he met with an unfortunate accident – “Et Tu Brute!”

However, the month of March has to be my favorite month. On March 30, 1934 the first son and second child of six to Bartley O’Donnell and Nellie Synan was born.  Although my five siblings, including my older sister Mary, were all born in the hospital, Thomas Martin O’Donnell was born at home at 5179 Brown’s Way in the Garfield section of Pittsburgh, Pa.  March 30, 1934 was a day of great significance because it happened to be Good Friday.  The fact that I was born on Good Friday, was that perhaps a sign that someday I would be called to be a Priest?   The significance of that date, coupled with the grace of God and the loving example of love, devotion and sacrifice of my mother and father played a significant role in my vocation to the Priesthood.

I love the month of March not only because I was born in the month but because of the many Irish traditions surrounding St. Patrick’s Day imbued in me by my Galway father and my Kerry mother.  My dad loved to sing Irish songs and I inherited his Irish voice. My love for singing was noticed by Sister Mary Edwin, a Dominican Sister, who was the music teacher at St. Lawrence O’Toole School.  Sister Mary Edwin was also given the name, Sister Mary “Bruised Knuckles” by some of the hooligans who suffered from the wrath of her wooden ruler.  Every St. Patrick’s Day, Sister would drag me from classroom to classroom singing Irish tunes.  Sister Mary Edwin helped to improve my voice. Singing in front of the other children helped so much with my self confidence that I was prepared to sing on the Davey Tyson’s Amateur Hour at the Enright’s Theatre.  However, the night before my performance, God had other plans for me and I was struck with double pneumonia. Although I recovered, I never got another chance to sing on the amateur hour.  Instead of being guided on the course of a singing career, I ended up going to the seminary.  As a seminarian I was always in the various choirs and musicals during the twelve years of my seminary training.  As a priest, in addition to singing at the liturgies, I also sang in parish talent shows, and directed choirs and plays for the youth groups.  I can thank God that he gave me a good voice and that I was able to use this gift in the service of His Church and His people.

When I was pastor of St. Wendelin Church,   I frequently brought the Eucharist to a ninety-six year old woman, Loretta Donahue.  Since Mrs. Donahue was born in March, close to St. Patrick’s Day, her family decided to have a party for her and invited me.  During the party, the family asked me to sing an Irish song to their mother.  As I was singing Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra, Loretta kept staring at my Claddagh ring.  After the song she said: “Father, it is a shame that that ring does not have any diamonds in it.”  The next day Loretta called me on the phone and told me that she had three little diamond chips and asked if I would like to have them put into my ring. I told her that I world be honored.  After a few days her daughters brought me the ring back from the Jewels. I called Mrs. Donahue to thank her and said to her: “Loretta since you gave me the diamonds, does that mean that we are now engaged?’  Her reply to me was: “Father. I can’t marry you because I am old enough to be your grandmother and beside that you are a priest and not allowed to get married.”   As a Christian, the three diamond chips in my Claddagh ring remind me of the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity and as a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Hibernians Virtues of Unity, Fraternity and Christian Charity.

With every blessing and best wish for a happy St. Patrick’s Day.