|The motto of the Ancient Order of Hibernians is “Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity.”
|St. Patrick’s Day is Sunday, March 17, 2013
The Ancient Order of Hibernians or, in Irish, Sean Ordú na nÉireannach, is an Irish Catholic fraternal organization. Its members must be Catholic and Irish born, or of Irish descent.
Founded in New York City, on May 4, 1836, at St. James Church, the name was adopted by groups of Irish immigrants; its purpose was to act as guards to protect Catholic churches from anti-Catholic forces in the mid-19th century and to assist Irish Catholic immigrants, especially those who faced discrimination or harsh coal mining working conditions.
Its existence and activities were concealed for years.
Today, it survives in part to ensure the richness of Irish culture and preserve its glorious history for the children of the Irish immigrants, and, in part, to observe some of the deeper meaning of religion of the Irish Catholics.
A Ladies Auxiliary was formed in 1894 in Omaha, Neb., as the Daughters of Erin, and it served to protect young Irish women and girls coming to America, and help them to secure employment, housing and meet other Irish immigrants. Their patron Saint is Saint Brigit of Ireland.
Niagara Falls, N. Y., was incorporated on St. Patrick's Day in 1892 and just six months later the first AOH Division was chartered in the Cataract City on Sept. 16, 1892.
The present Division was chartered May 16, 1970, with 73 members. It was later named after the Rev. James J. Browne, pastor of Sacred Heart Church, following his death in 1985 in honor of the generosity he bestowed upon the group in allowing them access to classroom space to use as their permanent clubhouse.
In 1975, a group of Irish Catholic women established the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians in Niagara Falls.
The organizations are involved in local charitable endeavors and have donated their time and energy to groups such as Love, Heart, and Soul, Niagara Catholic's Fundraiser, Retired Religious Groups, the Magdalena Project, Summit Life Outreach Center, and other charitable organizations.
In 2011 the organization bought a building at 9020 South Military Rd. which is used for various events including the summer picnic, Mass for the "Blessing of the Sash" for the Grand Marshal for their parade and the Buffalo parade, and the Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas Party.
Notably, in 1983, the Niagara Falls Division began the Celebration of St. Patrick's Day Party.
Its purpose was to celebrate joyfully and piously in the Irish Catholic tradition of the Feast of Saint Patrick (Lá Fhéile Pádraig).
St. Patrick's Day is, for Irish Catholics, a Holy Day of Obligation, a commemoration of their Saint, and through his works, the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. According to legend, St. Patrick used the 3-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people.
The Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day.
Combined with this is a secular celebration of Irish culture.
The party the Hibernians offer provides a glimpse into the meaning of the day, an Irish festival that ranks amongst the greatest party celebrations in the world, and provides the motivation for people of Irish descent (and, admittedly, for those who wish they were Irish) to join in the imaginative and expressive celebrations.
It's a time to bring piety and fun together.
The Hibernians' first St Patrick's Day party was held at the New York National Guard Armory on Main St. in 1983. The Party is now held at the Conference Center on Old Falls Blvd. and, of course, is always held on March 17, regardless of the day of the week.
Billed as Western New York's Largest St. Patrick's Day Party, more than 2,500 guests are expected to attend their 31st Annual St. Patrick's Day Celebration hosted by Niagara Falls Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
The party starts on Sunday, March 17 at 5 p.m. and tickets are $8 at the door. Proceeds benefit the AOH's Niagara County Chapter. Presale tickets are available for $7 at B&B Cigar Store, Always a Party (on Military Rd.), MacLeod's Pharmacy, and Cheri Amour in Lewiston.
Prior to the party, guests can experience the "World's Shortest Parade," at 4:45 p.m. The parade route begins about 75 steps away, from Old Falls Street at First Street into the entrance of The Conference & Events Center.
The party will feature traditional Irish food and beverages, music by The Blarney Bunch, and Irish dance performances by the McCarthy School of Dance. Attendees are asked to bring in non-perishable food items to be donated to Heart & Soul Food Pantry in memory of "An Gorta Mor, the Great Hunger in Ireland."