Summer 2013 is just a memory and our divisions are now well into the whirl of activities that constitute the normal tempo for most. Your National Board has been in communication on a periodic basis through convenient and inexpensive conference calls. We have not only been able to touch base with each other in terms of issues, concerns, and the “business” of the Order, but have successfully used our many calls to present reports from various committee chairmen. Such updates have kept our elected and appointed officers apprised of current projects such as the Commodore Barry Memorial Dedication, the upcoming St. Louis National Convention, the progress of legislation on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and many more significant topics. Such essential communication promotes the flow of ideas among us and further serves as a means of keeping in touch with what is happening throughout the AOH.
Likewise, our conference calls promote listening beyond the National Board. This was clearly demonstrated on the August 28th call with State Presidents, some of whom are “brand new,” having just come into office at recent state conventions. This proved to be an effective means of conveying the latest on some significant issues, including states’ use of the Digest to communicate their own news. But most importantly, participating presidents were able to address items they needed answers for. Similarly, on the evening of August 29th a conference call involved the top four AOH National Officers, the members of the Finance Oversight Committee, and the full Board of Trustees of The Hibernian Charity. The purpose of that meeting was to provide an opportunity for dialogue so as to insure that we continue on the same page in terms of the The Charity’s progress, function, and direction as an important and valuable subsidiary of the AOH.
As a community-based, national organization the AOH continues to be a mainstay of the broad Irish-American network. Our views on the Boston College Tapes Case were solicited during a radio show on that topic following the U.S. Attorney General’s decision. We have been counted on to participate in Consulate round-table discussions on Ireland’s plan to revise its National Constitution, particularly in terms of Diaspora issues and extending voting rights to non-resident Irish citizens. Under the auspices of our own District of Columbia State Board, a splendid event was organized to welcome Anne Armstrong, the new Irish Ambassador to the United States. In short, I am confident in reporting to you that there is little of significance taking place in Irish America that the Ancient Order of Hibernians is not at the forefront of, or at least involved in to a significant extent.
On a more “in-house” note, I was compelled to pause and reflect when I received an email from Chris Boyle of AOH Division #1 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Chris wanted to inform me of the sudden passing of the Division Chaplain, Father Brian Shaw. Chris added: “We are struck dumb by this news.” All of their shock, hurt, and loss were conveyed in that single, short sentence. Our AOH chaplains at every level–division, county, state, national–continue to play a most important role in this organization. We need to be mindful of that, just as my own awareness was heightened when I responded to Chris and the members of Division #1: “”We are blessed with AOH chaplains who are both Brothers and Models of Faith, Service, and Caring.”