Staten Island Hibernians Gather For Annual Memorial Mass

AOH New York State District 5 Director Marty Crimmins doing the first reading at the Memorial Mass in Staten Island

On Sunday, April 7, 2019, 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. Over 75 Brother and Sister Hibernians attended the Mass, celebrated by Rev. Father Steve Ryan, SDB, assisted by Brother Anthony Carratozzollo, Eucharistic Minister. The Mass was organized these past three years thanks to the dedicated efforts of Brother Thomas Gray, Sr., St. Columcille Division 4’s immediate Past President and the Richmond County Board Vice 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.

Sister Margaret F. Walsh-Delbagno, LAOH Richmond County Board President, doing the second reading.

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, and Sister Margaret F. Walsh-Delbagno, LAOH Richmond County Board President and Past President of St. Brigid Division 4, read the second reading of the Scriptures. 

Father Steve Ryan, SDB, gave a very warm and inspiring homily, talking about the life of Rev. Father John Drumgoole and his life of dedication, sacrifice and devotion to the poor orphans of New York, and the service rendered by the nuns and priests over the many years that the orphanage was in existence. Father Ryan also stressed the importance of prayer, confession, repentance and Holy Eucharist in our lives, and to focus on Christ in our daily living, and not on the materialism of this life.

Father Steve Ryan, SDB and a longtime member of St. Columcille Division 4, was the celebrant of the Mass.

Brother Kevin F. Mannion, Vice President of St. Columcille Division 4, provided the musical selection for the Mass. The entrance hymn was “On Eagle’s Wings,” the offertory hymn was “Here I Am, Lord,”, the Communion hymn was “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate,” the Communion reflection hymn was the hymn “Lady of Knock.”

Following Holy Communion, the names of all deceased Sister and Brother Hibernians who have passed on to their eternal rest, since the establishment of these Divisions on Staten Island in 1970, were read aloud, accompanied by the tolling of a bell for each departed Brother or Sister Hibernian. The family of Brother Philip McCusker, a charter member and first officer of the St. Columcille Division 4, also attended the Mass. The charters of both AOH St. Columcille Division 4 and LAOH St. Brigid Division 4 were displayed beside the altar and draped in mourning bunting, and were flanked by the Irish Tricolor and the American Stars and Stripes, as well as by two Irish pikes.

“The Soldier’s Song” and the “Star-Spangled Banner” were sung at the conclusion of the Mass, and the recessional hymn was “May the Road Rise to Meet You.”

Brother and Sister Hibernians enjoying breakfast with their families and friends.

After the Mass, all of the Brother and Sister Hibernians and their loved ones adjourned to Mount Loretto sports complex, where they enjoyed a delicious communion breakfast provided by renown Chef Eddie Canlon (As winner on TV’s “Chopped”). We were honored to have in attendance Brother Jack King, the Grand Marshal of the 2019 55th Annual Staten Island Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, as well as an AOH National Life Member, Brother Timothy O’Sullivan of St. Oliver Plunkett Division 16, Freehold, NJ, join us for the Mass and breakfast. Brother O’Sullivan is the proud father of Brother Neil O’Sullivan of Staten Island’s John F. Kennedy Division 1, and the father-in-law of Sister Cathy O’Sullivan of St. Brigid Division No. 4.

Story and photos by Brother Denis P. McGowan