Hibernians from Coast to Coast will be traveling to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to attend the National Convention held at the Wyndham Grand Hotel from July 12-17th. This will be the first large gathering since 2018 National Convention that was held in Louisville.
At that time no one expected that the next AOH/LAOH National Convention would not be held in person due to a worldwide pandemic. The leadership looked back in history to see how the organizations dealt with the 1918 Flu Pandemic.
In 1918, the Convention was cancelled, and the leadership stayed in office until the next Convention was held in 1919. We all were concerned about the status of the National Convention to be held in Orlando.
The AOH and LAOH of the State of Florida continued their plans for the Convention. Our Convention Chairs and the National leadership were following the situation closely. Both National Boards were working on plans in case the Convention could not be held in Orlando.
AOH President Jim McKay and LAOH President Carol Sheyer had to make a difficult decision and had the unfortunate responsibility to notify all members of the AOH and LAOH that the 2020 national convention would move to a virtual convention due to COVID-19. The health and safety of our membership is the reason for this change.
In the announcement, stated, “The challenge presented to us today includes opportunities for continued success of both the AOH and LAOH. We anticipate participation from delegates virtually who would otherwise not be able to participate in the 2020 AOH/ LAOH National Convention. We look forward to a successful and historic convention as we go virtual for the first time.” History was made with the first Virtual Convention and the election of new leadership; AOH President Danny O’Connell and LAOH President Karen Keane.
Under the leadership of President Keane, the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians embraced the virtual world. Bimonthly meetings of the State Presidents were held on ZOOM. Each of the Officers held meetings on ZOOM with their counterparts. These virtual meetings brought our membership closer together.
Our Order were able to gather virtually to celebrate the Feasts of St. Patrick and St. Brigid. The Hibernians embraced the virtual world and adapted to help our Order during the challenges during the past two years.
During 2021, State Conventions were held in person and some still virtual. President Keane attended the following Conventions: Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Montana, Florida and Maryland. The Delegates at the State Conventions were honored to have the National President in attendance and get a chance to know her better. We have a great Sisterhood with a very dedicated Sister as our leader.
Our membership has increased over the past two years. New York, North Carolina and Ohio welcomed three new Divisions. We look forward to meeting our new Sisters at this Convention.
The Convention in Pittsburgh will be busy with the Business of the Order. Over the past two years, all of the Officers and Appointees have worked very hard for the Order.
The membership has been very generous with donations to our projects: Columban Fathers and Sisters, Appeals for Aid, Project St. Patrick, Support Our Aging Religious, and Freedom for All Ireland. Our membership has also been very generous with our Appeal to help the Ukrainians.
Since 2008, the Spirit of St, Brigid Charity Project, a hands-on charity project, has been held to help the local community of the Convention site. This year our Hibernian Sisters will help two local charities in Pittsburgh: The Center for Domestic Violence and the Red Door Kitchen at Divine Mercy Parish.
The members of the LAOH are women of action. The Political Action Committee has held webinars on Catholic Social Justice. We have educated our membership with an Immigration Webinar. Our Veteran’s Chair has educated our membership on Woman Veterans issues.
At this Convention, I will have the honor of being nominated for the Office of National President. I have been proud to be a member of the best Irish Catholic American Women’s organization for over forty years.
When I attended my first Convention in Buffalo in 1986, I never expected to attend every National Convention from that point on. I met many members at that first Convention and have been friends since.
I have a wonderful group of Sisters in my Division, the Our Lady of the Rosary Division, in Cleveland. My division recently welcomed a new division in the Cleveland area; Deirfiúr of Charity and look forward to a close relationship working together in Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity. I have been honored to serve on the Ohio State Board and the National Board.
The Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians have been a strong presence in Irish America for the past 128 years, starting as an Auxiliary to where we are today. In the National Hibernian, a National President of the AOH stated: “bears testimony to the excellence of the Ladies Auxiliary and gives them full credit to for the noble work they have performed.
“We believe the Irish American woman of this country are realizing the great advantages of membership in an organization of this character and that the Ladies Auxiliary is destined to become the greatest fraternal society of Catholic woman on this continent.”
“The LAOH is that legacy. The future is bright for the LAOH and we all have a role to play. Continue to invite others to join and become a member of the best Sisterhood in America. Please visit our website www.ladiesaoh.com and find a division in your area or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be honored to be selected to lead this wonderful organization.
*Marilyn Madigan is the National Vice President of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians and a Deputy Director of the United Irish Societies of Cleveland. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from St. John College and retired from Nursing at University Hospitals of Cleveland.