Gifts to Catholic Churches

In our efforts to reclaim and restore the history of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America we discovered many references to gifts given by the Order to Catholic churches throughout the country. Of particular importance to us were the references to the gifts of stained glass windows. We recognized that the record of these gifts could open up a chapter of our history that was previously unknown to us. However, we were faced with a ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances if we were to explore this chapter. The peak period of AOH membership and growth occurred during the latter part of the 19th century making any gifts given during that time more than 100-125 years old. Combine that fact…the age of these gifts particularly the stained glass windows – with the present day trend of closing and consolidating older churches. We are faced with a race against time. The production of the Master List, therefore, is primarily aimed at recording and photographing the vulnerable windows (a formidable task on its own) and other gifts found incidental to that search. Thus you will see references to altars, statues, Stations of the Cross, tower bells and chalices which were recorded only as part of the search for these windows. We are certain that there are many more gifts to churches than are recorded to date in this List. During this process we also discovered many references to gifts – primarily money – to Catholic schools throughout the nation. The recording and documenting of those gifts will also require a separate undertaking.

The List is in an EXCEL spreadsheet format. That is to say when it is opened in EXCEL you can click on the bottom tabs either for a nationwide Summary or view state by state. The notes on each page are self-explanatory and other data obtained about the gift is often footnoted. It is important to remember this is a document in progress. Indeed we will never really finish it because so many of these gifts have been lost with the passage of time.

If you believe you have information that we can add to this list i. e. an AOH gift of any kind to a church whether it is still there or not, please share it with us by contacting the AOH National Archivist .