On Sunday, April 8, 2018, Staten Island’s AOH St. Columcille Division 4 and LAOH St. Brigid Division 4, joined by their family and friends, held their annual memorial Mass for deceased Brother and Sister Hibernians at the Church of St. Joachim and St. Anne on the grounds of the historic Mount Loretto. About 70 Brother and Sister Hibernians attended the Mass, celebrated by Rev. Jeffrey Mickler, SSP, assisted by Pauline Bro. Peter F. Lyne, SSP. The Mass was organized the past two years thanks to the dedicated efforts of Brother Thomas Gray, Sr., St. Columcille Division 4’s President.
Mount Loretto was the site of the orphanage established by Rev. Father John Christopher Drumgoole. Father Drumgoole, born in Granard, County Longford on August 15, 1816, was ordained a priest in 1869, and established the orphanage Mission of the Immaculate Conception at Mount Loretto by purchasing three farms on Staten Island in 1882. The orphanage was a model institution and ensured that its children received both an education and safe and sanitary housing for its thousands of orphaned children. As well as providing for their spiritual guidance and teaching them a trade, the orphanage had the largest dairy farm in lower New York State, producing thousands of gallons of fresh milk daily for their children, as well as making their own butter and cream.
The AOH and LAOH think it fitting that we have our annual memorial Mass on this sacred ground established by a loyal son of Ireland who served his Church and his community with great devotion, until his death on March 28, 1888 from contracting pneumonia from the Blizzard of 1888 while out ministering to the faithful.
Brother Martin Crimmins, AOH District 5 Director and Past President of St. Columcille Division 4, served as the first reader of the Scriptures during the Mass, Pauline Bro. Augustine Condon, SSP, read the responsorial, psalm, and Sister Margaret F. Walsh-Delbagno, LAOH Richmond County Board President and President of St. Brigid Division 4, read the second reading of the Scriptures.
Sister Walsh-Del Bagno, and Brother Denis P. McGowan, Richmond County Board Recording Secretary, read the names of all deceased Sister and Brother Hibernians who have passed on to the eternal rest since the establishment of these Divisions on Staten Island in 1970. Sister Cathy Postler, Catholic Action Officer of St. Brigid Division 4, presented the gifts during the Preparation of the Gifts during Mass.
Father Mickler gave a very uplifting and inspiring homily about the importance of the Irish saving Western civilization during the Dark Ages, their spreading the Christian faith throughout the world, and their tremendous role of the Irish in the establishment of the Catholic Church in America, with the construction of thousands of churches, schools, hospitals, and orphanages throughout the United States of America. Father Mickler also highlighted the reason for the establishment of the Ancient Order of Hibernians to protect the Catholic clergy in Ireland from persecution during the Penal Law era, and for the defense of the church against the anti-Catholic Nativist Know-Nothings in the 1830s and 1840s in America.
Brother Kevin F. Mannion, Recording Secretary of St. Columcille Division 4, provided the musical selection for the Mass. The entrance hymn was “On Eagle’s Wings,” the Communion hymn was “Here I Am, Lord,”, the Communion meditation were the hymns “Lady of Knock” and “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate,” and the recessional hymn was “May the Road Rise to Meet You.”
After the Mass, all of the Brother and Sister Hibernians and their loved ones adjourned to Mount Loretto sports complex, where they enjoyed a communion breakfast. We were honored to have Brother Gerald Mulvaney, Richmond County Board President, in attendance at the Mass and breakfast, as well as an AOH National Life Member, Brother Timothy O’Sullivan of St. Oliver Plunkett Division 16, Freehold, NJ, to join us for Mass and breakfast. Brother O’Sullivan is the proud father of Brother Neil O’Sullivan of Staten Island’s John F. Kennedy Division No. 1, and the father-in-law of Sister Cathy O’Sullivan of St. Brigid Division No. 4.
Photos by Brother Denis P. McGowan