Members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians (LAOH) will be gathering in St. Louis between July 30 and August 2 for their 97th Biennial National Convention.

The AOH and LAOH are Irish Catholic fraternal organizations founded in America in 1836 and 1894, respectively. Their purpose is to provide a society for Catholic Irish and Irish Americans with like-minded values to gather and discuss their beliefs. They’ve taken many political positions as well, and have aimed to assist Irish Catholic immigrants who may have faced discrimination in the US in the past. “Friendship, unity and Christian charity” is their motto.

The two fraternal organizations hold conventions every two years to elect leading officers and conduct necessary business. It has been over 50 years since their last convention in St. Louis; they met there in 1888 and again in 1904. Kevin O’Malley, the nominee to the position of 31st US Ambassador to Ireland, is from St. Louis.

The speakers and dignitaries who will be honored at the event are Anne Anderson, Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, the former Lord Mayor of Belfast, and Sister Ann Currier, Order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Anne Anderson was born in Tipperary and grew up in Kilkenny and Dublin. She was part of the Irish mission to the UN, has worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin serving with ambassadorial rank, she’s served as chair of the UN Commission on Civil Rights, and is currently Ireland’s ambassador to numerous countries. Since becoming ambassador to the US, she has done much work toward pushing for Irish immigration reform.

Sinn Féin politician Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, former Lord Mayor of Belfast, will receive the AOH John F. Kennedy Medal at the convention. He said that during his term in office his primary goals were to establish peace and bring the city’s divided people together and to create jobs and stop at nothing to get the economy back on track.

Sister Ann Currier will be receiving the 2014 LAOH St. Brigid of Ireland Humanitarian Award. In nominating her for the award, the LAOH said that Sister Ann works “tirelessly for the intentions of our faith and heritage,” and that she “continually goes above and beyond with regard to her own benefit.” She has spent upwards of 45 years making personal contact with those in need, no matter if they’re in need of a meal or a simple, kind word.

National AOH President Brendan Moore has been an AOH member for 38 years. He’s served as national chairman of the AOH’s Freedom for All Ireland Committee, helping to raise funds for Irish Republican prisoners held in British jails, and made numerous trips to Dublin, Belfast and Derry on behalf of prisoners in Northern Ireland. He also started the AOH’s Storm Relief Program, and, partnering with the LAOH, made Hibernian-to-Hibernian financial assistance possible in areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

Maureen Shelton, the LAOH National President, was honored in 2009 at the Michigan State Convention with the Hibernian Woman Award – an award given to someone who emulates what it means to be a Hibernian. She was born in the Corktown neighborhood in Detroit – named as such thanks to the huge numer of Irish immigrants who moved there following the Famine.

This year’s event in St. Louis will be made possible with help from the men’s and women’s Hibernian divisions from Missouri, Illinois and Kansas. The AOH and LAOH will be aided by members of the St. Louis Emerald Society, the Saint Patrick’s Day Downtown Committee and more St. Louis Irish organizations.

The event will take place in downtown St. Louis at The Renaissance St Louis Grand Hotel on Washington Avenue.