Once again I feel compelled to start a write up with a disclaimer. I neither agree nor disagree with the values espoused by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Some of their stances on issues such as right to life and the gay community are controversial to say the least. This is here as a matter of record. With that being said…
The Ancient Order of Hibernians (in America) is an Irish – Catholic organization that was founded in New York City in 1836. Supposedly, the roots of the organization were formed in Ireland over 400 years ago.
It seems that in the early 1600’s in occupied Ireland, there was a law that forbade the celebration of mass and any priest caught trying to keep the Catholic faith alive faced the death penalty. The same law offered five English pounds for the head of any priest caught celebrating mass. (This was also the same amount that was being offered for the head of a wolf.) The Hibernians, as they called themselves, served as guards and protected the priests when mass was being said in the Irish countryside.
Here in the States, the AOH was formed in response to threats from something called the Know-Nothing Party, an anti immigrant. anti-Catholic organization, that were conducting violent attacks on Catholic Churchs and its members. Recognizing that there was strength to be had in numbers, Irish immigrants banded together and the Ancient Order of Hibernians was formed. They served to protect the Churches and members from these attacks.
As the threat from the Know Nothings faded, the focus of the AOH shifted to that of supporting charitable causes embraced by the Catholic Church, assisting new Irish immigrants in finding employment and the preservation of Irish language, history and traditions in the States.
Today, the Hibernians are still active in preserving Irish language, culture and tradition but have expanded their scope to include the promotion of the Right To Life movement across the country as well as the expulsion of gays from the Catholic Church. As a matter of fact, as many as 1,000 Hibernians stood guard over St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1992 when it was threatened by gay “activists”.
When Irish Americans contacted their homeland in 1836 and described the conditions that they were experiencing , a letter was received in reply. The following is the text of that letter.
”Brothers, Greeting: Be it known that to you and to all whom it may concern that we send to our few brothers in New York full instructions with our authority to establish branches of our society in America. The qualifications for membership must be as follows: All the members must be good Catholics, and Irish or of Irish descent, and of good and moral
character, and none of your members shall join any secret societies contrary to the laws of the Catholic Church, and all times and at all places your motto shall be: ‘Friendship
, and True Christian Charity
In 1908, at a national convention of Hibernians, the following preamble to their constitution was adopted.
The members of The Ancient Order of Hibernians in America declare that the intent and purpose of the Order is to promote Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity among its members by raising or supporting a fund of money for maintaining the aged, sick, blind and infirm members, for the payment of funeral benefits, for the advancement of the principles of Irish nationality, for the legitimate expenses of the Order, and for no other purpose whatsoever.
The motto of this Order is Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity. Friendship shall consist of helping one another and in assisting each other to the best of our power. Unity, in combining together for mutual support in sickness and distress. Christian Charity, in loving one another and doing to all men as we would wish that they should do unto us.
(1) This Order is to be formed exclusively of practical Catholics. Therefore, each member is expected to comply with all his Christian duties.
(2) Should any of the members fail in the above, and instead of giving edification and encouragement, become a stumbling block and a disgrace to the Organization, such a one, after proper charitable admonition, unless there be an amendment in his conduct, shall be expelled from the Order.
(3) In order, however, that all may be done with justice, Christian charity and edification, there shall be in each county a Chaplain, appointed by the Ordinary of the Diocese, to be consulted by the Division before determining anything relating to morality or religion.
(4) The Chaplain in each county shall see that nothing is done or countenanced within his jurisdiction which is contrary to the laws of the Catholic Church, the decrees of the Plenary Councils of Baltimore, and the Synodical Constitutions of the Diocese. In any difficulty or doubt which he may not be able to solve, he shall consult the Ordinary of the Diocese.
(5) All Divisions of this Order shall adopt the foregoing preamble, and their special Constitution and By-Laws shall be in harmony with the Constitution and By-Laws of this Order.
Source – the Catholic Encycopledia