Local members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians gathered recently to celebrate their organization's 40th anniversary.
The anniversary dinner of the AOH Monsignor William Farrell Division #2 was held in the St. Rose Family Center on Saturday evening, Feb. 24.
Frank Burnett, the organization's vice president, served as master of ceremonies, and the gala affair was attended by representatives from the local, state and federal governments.
Among those seated on the dais were U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, State Sen. John Blake, State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich, Lackawanna County Commissioner Patrick O'Malley, and Jermyn Mayor Bruce Smallacombe. Burnett also read a letter of support and appreciation from Gov. Tom Corbett recognizing the organization on its 40th anniversary.
Congressman Cartwright used his remarks to unveil a proclamation that he read two days later on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., which was then entered into the Congressional Record.
The proclamation honored the AOH Farrell Division for its many contributions to the community and the group's founders "for their foresight...and their continued support of the work of the Ancient Order of Hibernians."
Kavulich is well known to residents throughout the region for his more than 25 years as a sports broadcaster with WBRE-TV and WYOU-TV. He even dipped into his sports background to salute the organization by noting that it was founded on Super Bowl Sunday in January 1973, the same day that the Miami Dolphins completed the only perfect season in NFL history.
"So we had two very historic events take place that day," Rep. Kavulich commented.
In his speech, State Sen. Blake underscored the historic nature of that night's 40th anniversary dinner.
"It's important that we celebrate these kind of milestones and recognize the shoulders we stand upon," he stated.
The ceremony concluded with the presentation of the group's two annual awards. Joseph Hosie was honored as Hibernian of the Year, and he was saluted by Burnett as "someone who is always willing to go above and beyond for our division."
"He brings so much to our organization," Burnett noted.
Gary Duncan, who is now in his second term as president of the Lackawanna County AOH, was honored with the Harry Cook Trinity Award. Burnett described Duncan as "one of the most devoted Hibernians I know."
"He bleeds green," Burnett added.
In addition, gifts of appreciation were presented to four surviving founding members — William Pryle, the group's current president, along with Robert Munley, James Munley, and Jerome Brennan. Three of the founders were in attendance, while Marion Munley Cartwright (Congressman Cartwright's wife) accepted the gifts on behalf of her father, Robert Munley.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians is the oldest and largest Irish Catholic organization in the United States, and its work includes raising money for a number of Irish and Catholic causes in America as well as in Ireland.
Page 2 of 2 - In accepting his award as Hibernian of the Year, Hosie recited a statement long associated with AOH membership: "To be born Irish, a blessing; to be a Hibernian, an honor."