It was officially “Gaelic Mass Day” on Saturday, September 8th,as Hibernians led by New York State President Vic Vogel, and joined by local Irish community groups and parishioners, gathered for an Irish language Mass at St. Barnabas Parish. The day began with County Legislator David Tubiolo, announcing Westchester’s proclamation and presenting copies to New York State AOH, host Bronx AOH Division 5 and St. Barnabas Parish. The Gaelic Mass which was said by St. Barnabas Pastor Fr. Brendan Fitzgerald, and brought together fluent Irish speakers with many who never before heard the Mass said in the language of their ancestors, may now become an annual event.
Among the AOH officers leading the march into the Church were State President Vogel, National Director Dan Dennehy, District Director Aiden O’Kelly Lynch, Bronx County President Bob Nolan and Division 5 President Martin Galvin. They followed Piper Dermot Moore, a son of the late Mary Holt Moore, who had been a key figure in the Bronx Gaelic League.AOH and Ladies AOH sashes and medallions made a colorful display.Fr. Brendan Fitzgerald welcomed everyone in English to the Mass offered in Irish for “all those persecuted for their Catholic faith and Gaelic language”. Woodlawn residents and Irish speakers, Division 5 Vice-President Ray Leyden, Aoife Farrell of Aisling and Mairead Greenan of Emerald Isle Immigration did the readings. Musician and Irish singer Dawn Doherty played and sang beautifully, while Daithi McLaughlin of the Brooklyn Gaelic Club assisted with the Irish hymns.
In his sermon Fr. Fitzgerald said “the Catholic faith in Ireland, like the Irish language had survived centuries of persecution and penal laws intended to wipe it out. Our ancestors had defied everything, attending outlawed Masses said by outlawed priests to keep their language and faith alive. We will survive the problems of today and come through stronger than ever.”
Following the Gaelic Mass, Martin Galvin President of host Division 5 said:
“We were overwhelmed by the help and encouragement we immediately got for “Gaelic Mass Day”. The parish, AOH statewide, local Irish community groups, Irish language clubs, and musicians contacted us offering help. We have already been asked to have an Irish language Mass said annually and other AOH Divisions, want to follow through on the idea originally suggested BY Vic Vogel.
“The Irish language is an important and indestructible part of our Irish heritage. We did not anticipate the deep appreciation which even those like me who regrettably do not understand Irish would feel.