Director Charles ‘Chip’ McLean

The three “H’s” of the summer: hazy, hot and humid have wrapped their arms around most of us throughout the country.  This combined with our State Boards’ convening  their biennial State Conventions along with our families trying to fit in some quality vacation time makes for a very busy time for Hibernianism.

Best wishes to all of our State Boards as they gather to conduct the business of our Order with members of their individual States. Owing to the fact that I will not be able to attend as many State Conventions as I would like to as your Hibernian Hunger  Chairman I would ask that each of our State leaders include in their dialogue at State Conventions the topic of a feeding ministry in their local communities. Those jurisdictions that already have an active program underway can share the details of the program and even the challenges that faced them when initiating these programs. Each local jurisdiction then is asked to develop a feeding ministry. These ministries can range from arranging for work crews comprised of members of our Order staffing soup kitchens that are already established by various food pantries or physically soliciting food stuffs from businesses or private donors to be given to either soup kitchens or food pantries run by anyone of our local parishes, to even holding dedicated annual fundraisers where the profits are dedicated as a yearly donation to support any specific food pantries.

During these summer months donations to these pantries dip to a desperate low. It is challenging for these pantries to continue to provide services to those in need. Those folks who are in need will be in the communities throughout those ‘hazy, hot and humid’ days since it is likely they will not be able to get away to the shore as they are in desperate need to feed their families. Those of us who are fortunate to vacation and leave our local communities for periods of time should make some consideration to providing for these needy ministries. The times of the year when we least think about the hungry in our community are usually the times when the supplies at the pantries need to be supplemented by our contributions.

I would once again ask all of those jurisdictions that do have some sort of activity in place that directly provides for the hungry to make me aware of them. Please e-mail me (charles.mclean@aoh.com) with as much information that you can regarding the details of how you came to develop what you do and how you keep the members interested in continuing to support the program.

It is my intent to share as much of this with our members in this article and in the space provided to my committee on the electronic/on-line Hibernian Digest. In showcasing your particular Division or County Bd’s activity it will encourage and educate other jurisdictions toward either starting a program or advancing any program that may already be in place. Please do not be concerned about how basic or simple your program is, if it is effective it can be helpful to our Brothers in the work that they will be doing in the name of feeding the hungry.

National Director’s Work

As National Director I am very pleased to report that I attended all of the County Board Conventions and conducted or participated in all of the Installations of County Officers within the geographic area that our National President assigned me to. At two of the Counties I was very pleased to be assisted by the recently elected New York State President Jim Burke. The installed Presidents are as follows: John Hurley (Suffolk), Sean O’Rourke (Nassau), John Manning (Queens), John O’Farrell (Kings), Marty Crimmins (Richmond), Tom Beirne (New York), Bob Nolan (Bronx). Best wishes to all of the officers who were elected to the various County Boards throughout our Order.

Congratulations and all the best to the newly elected State Board officers who have been and are being elected to state-wide office. I would ask all of the newly elected State Presidents to e-mail me your contact info at your earliest convenience. I am at your disposal for any assistance you may need in the performance of your duties as well as working with you all to continue to educate our membership on An Gorta Mor and developing or advancing feeding ministries at your local levels.

Chairman, Charities and Missions

This is my final report after four years on the National Board.  I would like to thank Worthy President Boyle for appointing me to what I consider two of the most important jobs on the National Board.  That is, the Organizational Committee and the Charities and Missions Committee.

I would like to thank the State Presidents, the State Organizers and the members at large for their help bringing in 22 new Divisions, 2 new County Boards and 1 new State Board while I was National Organizer.  I could not have done that without your help.  As for the Charities and Missions, we all know that the third pillar of our motto is “ … True Christian Charity”.  And that is what we practice every time we raise money or donate our time to help others.  I am proud and thankful to all of our jurisdictions for their efforts.

These past four years under the guidance of President Boyle this National Board accomplished many milestones.  All of your National Officers performed their duties superbly.  I am honored to be associated with and to have work with these men.

I am looking forward to seeing and meeting you at the National Convention this July.  It is going to be a great time – don’t miss it.

Finally, I would like to again thank all of you for your efforts in making our Order the most outstanding Organization in the country.  And as we say in the Donegal Irish (Gaeilge Thir Chonaill),  Mo chairde, go raibh maith agaibh agus tchifidh me thu, le cuidiu De.  Slan go foill.

Historical Happenings

The National Presidents Testimonial Dinner in Philadelphia on Oct 8 was a memorable event. Meeting Clara Reilly, first woman recipient of the MacBride Award, was memorable – especially to this historian who has followed the time and troubles through which she has lived.

Special thanks to all for the compliments on 175 Years of Fidelity, the illustrated history of the AOH prepared by this office for the 175th Anniversary of the Order. It was a year in the research and writing and revealed some remarkable facts about our origins as well as containing some rare photos, but I never expected the book to be as well received as it was. I apologize to all who wanted another copy for a local library or archive when we ran out. However, the National Board has agreed to a limited reprint and is making another 50 available, at $20. each, on a first-come basis with delivery promised before Christmas. See the ad in this issue.

As far back as March, May and July 2010, we invited all jurisdictions to sponsor a page on the history of the AOH in their area to complement the overall History of the Order. Thanks to those who did for your stories are inspiring and show the extent to which the AOH has seeded this nation. However, some ignored the appeal and some of those were ones who whine the loudest when their submissions don’t appear in the Hibernian Digest. My position on this issue is that while today’s events are significant today, those Irish immigrants who came before us, many of whom walked across this land with little more than the clothes on their backs and a handful of tools, brought the Catholic Church and the AOH from coast to coast as they built this great nation and they deserve to be remembered. More importantly, they deserve to be introduced to our grandchildren by us recording their deeds.

Therefore, after consulting with the National Board, the Office of National Historian is officially directing all jurisdictions (State, County and Division) to appoint, at the next election of officers, a Historian who will commit to compile as much of the history of that jurisdiction as is known and forward it to the National Historian’s Office by the end of one year. We can accept the information in any form, but would prefer digital files. If there are any questions, call (631) 732-1390 and let’s make 2012 the Year of the Historian.

If by January 2013, no information is received, the name of the delinquent jurisdiction will be published and an appeal made to any member of that jurisdiction to provide the information. The providing member will then be publicly credited with having provided the information and given a byline in the archives.

Many have said that they didn’t realize the request was for all jurisdictions while some said they assumed we already had the information. This offer is being made one final time so that everyone can have the opportunity to show future researchers that the AOH, with its benevolence and organizational ability, was truly one of the building blocks on which America was established. It’s your heritage – promote it!

Mercier Press is publishing a new book by author Pearse Lawlor, “The Outrages, 1920-1922,” which gives an account of the major incidents, now slipping from local memory, in Ireland’s War of Independence along the border counties. The many lives lost in each border county are chronicled with factual accounts of attacks and reprisals, the impact these events had in Westminster and how Churchill, Craig and Collins reacted. Included are the events leading to the creation of the Ulster Special Constabulary’s ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ Specials and an in-depth account of the shooting of ‘B’ Specials at Clones railway station, the killing of eight unionists in a single night in south Armagh, the cover-up after ‘A’ Specials left three innocent nationalists dead and two wounded in Cushendall, and the litany of reprisal killings from Camlough to Desertmartin. It includes details of attacks on the Great Northern Railway and other networks, not previously published, that provide a unique insight into the problems faced by railwaymen and by the government during the period.

It is clear that the worst of all groups, including the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries, were the Ulster Special Constabulary ‘B’ specials, who left all others in the dust when it came to murder and mayhem. Lawlor covers the pogroms against Catholics in at least three major towns led by off-duty ‘B’ Specials. Kudos to Lawlor for documenting an important part of our history before it is lost to memory. We know there are no choir boys in war; this book makes that fact even clearer.

— Mike McCormack, aohbard@optonline.net

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.

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.

Irish American Heritage Month

As I write this, we are still in the dog days of summer, hot and humid in the wonderful Commonwealth of Virginia. But, brothers, now is the time to get active – to take those steps we all need to take to get March officially designated as Irish American Heritage Month. Our National President has made getting March designated permanently as IAHM a priority. That’s good enough for me – and I hope it’s good enough for all of us.

As you all know, at the recent National Convention in Cincinnati, we held our biennial elections which resulted in some new National Directors and new assignments. I am very honored and happy to say that the IAHM Committee consisting of myself, John Schell and Neil Cosgrove remain intact. John and Neil will be using all available resources to communicate the goals, objectives and ideas to all of you, going through National Directors and State Presidents. Additionally, we will be setting up meeting with key congressional leaders of the Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs to enlist their support.

So what is it that we are asking you to do? It may look like a lot – but there is so much that can be done with the talent we have in the Order.

I am asking each State President to appoint a state IAHM Chairman to work with and coordinate the activities of County Boards and Divisions. Each County Board and Division should also appoint an IAHM Chairman. State Presidents, please take responsibility for making contact with the office of the Governor of your state asking the governors to declare March as IAHM. This needs to be done early on. Waiting until February to start the process just won’t work. I know – we had elections in Virginia in 2010 and I waited until the new Governor and his staff were in place – too late! So we are starting early this year.

Presidents down the line should be coordinating with local jurisdictions for them to declare March as IAHM. Talk to your mayors and other elected officials to make this happen. In doing this, be prepared to propose language for the resolution, focusing on the contributions of the Irish and those of us of Irish descent to the State, County or local jurisdiction. We need to stress positive contributions, avoiding the “wear your green, everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day” trivial prose.

We call on all – State, County, Division – to plan and execute positive activities for March that will stress and build upon our Irish Heritage. Do you need some ideas? Contact Dr. Tim O’Donnell, President of Christendom College in Virginia. He has a great series of talks on Catholic Ireland and the Nine Years War. The lectures are based on his book “Swords Around the Cross – The Nine Years War – Ireland’s Defense of Faith and Fatherland 1594-1603.” It is a fantastic book. Or, just get the book and present it to your local library. How about a series of talks either in schools or libraries by a local seanchai or storyteller. We have so many wonderful stories in our heritage. Have you considered having a Gaelic Mass around St. Patrick’s Day? Publicize it in your parish bulletin, and invite all your parish. Oh, by the way, these activities are also a wonderful way to find Irish Catholic men in your community who would make great members of the AOH.

The key to all this is that we must start now for activities to highlight our Irish American Heritage in March. The more we can take forward to our national elected leadership in Congress and the White House, the better chance we have in getting IAHM permanently designated for March – make it grow – so that the military, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress and others can expend funds and manpower to recognize the contributions of Irish and Irish Americans to this great country.

We continue to ask you, our membership, to let the IAHM Committee know what you are doing in support of IAHM to help us strengthen our case with the appropriate legislative bodies at the National level.

President’s Message

Brothers, the convention in Cincinnati is over and what a great convention it was. Everyone there seemed to enjoy it and I received more compliments on how it was run and what a great job the committee did in setting it up and running the events. All the officers had their reports and that is one of the reasons it ran so smoothly.

The business sessions went extremely well and we got a lot accomplished in our three days. It seems that Martin McGuinness and Father O’Donnell were the highlights of the convention.

Some of the main things which we accomplished are that the LAOH situation was settled by a huge majority vote of the ladies and a unanimous vote of the men. We are back in the Notre Dame fund although a lot of discussion took place on this subject but when the vote was taken it was a clear decision to return to the previous way the fund was prior to our decision to temporarily suspend our participation.

I will be appointing a committee to examine ways to better serve our membership throughout the country which was a recommendation from the National Board, the constitution committee and the resolutions committee.

The state presidents met and we will be having a conference call later on in the fall and the per capita raise was well received and very little opposition to that. Beginning in February when the per capita is due the new per capita will be $12 per member. I imagine people realize that no increase since 1992 was a real reason to raise it as almost everything has gone up over the past 18 years especially printing and postage.

All the changes to the constitution are being made as we speak but it will still take some time as everything which has a reference to Canada, province or provincial must be removed as we have severed all legal ties to the AOH in Canada. As soon as the constitution is complete we will have it out to the jurisdictions and on the website. I want to thank all the committee chairs and their members for all the hard work and time they spent on these committees especially the credentials, constitution and resolutions committee.

Brothers I want to thank all of you for your tremendous support at the convention and I welcome the three new directors on board and I have been assured by them that they will work hard with the existing board for the betterment of our order. I would be remiss if I did not thank our outgoing directors, Joe Brady, Frank Kearney and Martin Kelly for their hard work over the past four years.  Please remember in your prayers our new director, Brother Bob Mott whose daughter was murdered a few days prior to the convention. I just got off the phone with Bob and he says it will be a few more days before they are done with the autopsy and he can finally lay her to rest.

Brothers over the past few years emails have been circulated throughout the order which were less than what our motto should stand for. I am asking that every member, especially National Board members, to cease this practice immediately. E-mails were for information to be passed on to our officers and members not to be used as tool to try to tear our organization apart. I am asking that in the future if the National Board continues to receive emails like we have been receiving in the past few years please just use your delete key and say a prayer for the people sending those types of emails. CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is always welcome but not DESTRUCTIVE.

Organizer

Brothers, this is my final report for this term as your National Director/Organizer.  It has been my pleasure to serve you in this office.  I hope I have done my job to your satisfaction and have helped to grow our Order.  I will have my final report at the National Convention in Cincinnati.  There will be totals on the State boards, County Boards, Divisions along with membership totals in that report.  I hope to see you all there in July.

I would like to thank our National President, Seamus Boyle, for appointing me the post of Organizer.   My thanks also go out to the National Board, in general, for all their help, along with my Deputy National Organizers, State Presidents and State Organizers all deserve a hearty thanks for a job well done.   Last, but certainly not least, thanks to all members of the rank and file that have helped in the organizing of new divisions and bringing in new members.

At this convention, I will have a power point presentation on organizing.  At this program we will discuss ideas and ways of organizing new divisions in your state and/or area.  All State Presidents and State Organizers along with any interested members should plan on attending.

During these past two years, numerous e-mails and phone calls have poured into the Organizer’s office.  This was one of the busiest offices on the National Board.  All inquiries were answered in a timely fashion, usually within 2 to 3 days.  We had calls/e-mails from all 50 states including Hawaii and Alaska, and other countries such as Ireland, Australia, Canada, Germany, England, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  As the calls and emails came in, I would either handle them myself or forward them to the appropriate State, County or Division Presidents for their direction to the new candidates.  I would also utilize National Directors and State Presidents in their jurisdictions, to install new Divisions.  Believe it or not, we also had an Episcopalian Priest in Cleveland call and ask if he could join.  Of course, he

could not, but it is nice to know that our name is out there and a lot of people have heard of us.

Over the past two years, my articles in this paper have been trying to give you effective ways of drawing more Irish-Americans into our fold.  The most important way is to show our good works in the communities that we live in.  Articles in your local newspaper are often good avenues to take.  Another way is to use your Church bulletins.  We are looking for good Catholic men of Irish descent and where better to find them than in the pews.  Our parades, parties and music fests can be attractive to future members.  Set up stands or work tables and provide information and applications, and always have it manned by 3 or 4 Hibernians so there is a no wait policy.  As always, for AOH materials contact me by email or phone.

At this National Convention in July, a lot of good men are running for offices.  Delegates, get there and have your vote heard.  This is a great opportunity to meet your brothers from around the country, your National Officers and men from your own state.  Get involved, ask questions, offer opinions, and most importantly be part of the projects, committees and delegations that will guide our great Order into the future.

Again, thank you for your confidence in me for the past two years.  I am running for re-election for this National Director post and I would appreciate your vote.  I am always available to you for any questions you have, or information that you need.  If you need organizational materials, email me at norrisaoh@aol.com or call me at 570-323-7789.

Have a happy and safe summer and Beannacht De an obair.

Letter from United States Senator Ben Nelson

The article ‘Politics Trumps Principle’ which was carried on the front page of our last edition was submitted by Pro-Life Chairman Matt Nelligan. Senator Nelson, who was mentioned therein was kind enough to provide an addendum to the article for the record. In response to the article, Senator Nelson wrote:

“I was both surprised and disappointed to read the article “Politics Trumps Principle” on the cover of the National Hibernian Digest for the months of January and February 2010.  I am writing to clarify what is a misunderstanding regarding my efforts to support life in the Senate health care bill.

The article correctly points out that I offered the Nelson, Hatch, Casey, et al amendment, which was tabled by a vote of 54-45.  During discussions with leadership, I then offered an alternative to protect against using federal funds to pay for elective abortions.  The writer is mistaken in criticizing this language as not protecting life.

A legal opinion from one of Nebraska’s most respected law firms concluded that my language prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, provides that plans are not required to offer abortion coverage, permits all states to prohibit abortion coverage in their respective jurisdictions, and preserves existing federal law with respect to conscience protection.

Any disagreement about the intent or effect of this language seems to me to be about preferred wording, rather than substantive effect.  Thus, the question as to whether this language bars federal funds from paying for elective abortions has been conclusively answered by this legal opinion.  It does.  Principle trumps politics.

To question my pro-life commitment is inexcusable.  I was a pro-life adoptive parent twenty years before I entered politics.  As Nebraska’s governor in 1991, I helped the legislature pass pro-life legislation for waiting periods and parental consent.  My pro-life voting record for two terms in the United States Senate is unquestioned.  Armchair quarterbacking aside, I have never sacrificed this or any of these principles for political purposes.

The suggestion that I extracted an unfair Medicaid promise for my state is equally untrue.  I pointed out an unfunded mandate to be borne by all the states in 2017 and suggested that it be fixed.  Whatever my state is to get should be extended to all states as well.  Incidentally, I was asked by the Nebraska Governor to pursue this unfunded mandate since it would result in an undue hardship on our state’s fiscal capacity.  It was my decision to seek relief not only for Nebraska but for all states as well.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to this mistaken attack on my character.

Erin go bragh, United States Senator Ben Nelson”