The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) will join with Gaelic societies, Irish community groups, and parishioners to host the now annual Irish language Mass on Saturday, September 17, at St. Barnabas Church, 409 East 241st Street in Woodlawn, the Bronx, just on the border of McLean Avenue in Yonkers, at 2:30 pm.
Father Brendan Fitzgerald will celebrate the Mass in Gaelic, again symbolized by the Irish Mass Rocks, and this year including prayers for those who “hunger and thirst for justice” remembering families of victims killed during The Troubles, still denied truth.
You can tune into the special Irish language Mass here on Saturday, September 17:
Under AOH National President Danny O’Connell, the Bronx AOH Irish language Mass became a national AOH event, viewed by Hibernians across the United States and in Ireland, via the St. Barnabas Facebook page and AOH YouTube channel. Thousands of people have viewed the Mass, many of them seeing a Gaelic Mass for the first time.
Irish-English translations of the liturgy will be made available so that anyone can read the prayers in English as they hear the Mass said in Irish. A musical program will be provided by the Dawn Doherty Academy of Irish Music and Sean Ruane.
Each year, the Mass has been dedicated to all those who have kept the Irish language and culture alive. To symbolize this theme, the AOH flyer depicts a Mass Rock where Gaelic speakers gathered in secret to hear outlawed Masses said by outlawed priests in defiance of English penal laws.
This year the Irish Mass will include a special theme of victims’ families “who hunger and thirst for justice,” remembering families who have been fighting for justice for loved ones murdered during The Troubles, and now face planned British amnesty laws opposed by all Irish political parties and the Catholic bishops.
Bronx County AOH President Martin Galvin noted, “The Gaelic Mass at St. Barnabas has become an important annual event on the AOH national calendar, watched nationally and in Ireland via YouTube.
“This year, we also remember those who ‘hunger and thirst for justice,’ as the British government pushes an amnesty bill opposed by all Irish political parties and Catholic bishops. The amnesty bill would close down legal channels for justice for hundreds of victims’ families seeking the truth about family members killed during The Troubles.
"The Irish language is an important and indestructible part of our Irish heritage. Measures to wipe out the Irish language began even before Penal Laws to wipe out the Catholic religion in Ireland. Ireland's cherished landmarks include Mass Rocks, where Gaelic speakers risked death or imprisonment simply to worship. Even today a simple Irish language act is still not implemented in the six counties.
“As an organization formed to promote Irish ideals, culture, history, and national freedom, we can think of no more fitting way for AOH members to honor Irish heritage than an Irish Mass embodying all of these themes.
"There has been a great response each year from AOH officers, the Ladies AOH, Gaelic clubs, community groups, and individuals who would just like to hear the Mass said in the language of our ancestors. St. Barnabas is fortunate enough to have a pastor like Father Fitzgerald who can say the Mass in Gaelic.”
*This column first appeared in the September 14 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.