The Ancient Order of Hibernians, joined by Gaelic societies, Irish community groups, and parishioners in the strongly Irish Woodlawn-McLean area, will host its annual Irish language Mass on Saturday, September 12 at 2 p.m. at St. Barnabas, 409 East 241st Street in Woodlawn.
This year's Irish Mass, celebrated by Father Brendan Fitzgerald, will be available live across the country and Ireland on the St. Barnabas parish Facebook page. Dedicated to those who kept the Irish language and culture alive, the Irish Mass takes on added meaning this year for an Irish community overcoming COVID in the spirit our ancestors overcame being denied Catholic Church and Mass by British Penal Laws.
The Bronx AOH began hosting an Irish language Mass, as part of a New York State AOH initiative, proposed by past New York State President Vic Vogel. This year under AOH National President Danny O'Connell, Hibernians across the country are being encouraged to view the service on the St. Barnabas Facebook page, www.facebook.com/stbarnabascatholicchurch. Irish-English translations of the liturgy are being prepared so that anyone can follow the prayers in English as they hear the Mass said in Irish. A special Irish musical program will feature the Dawn Doherty School of Irish Music and include Sean Ruane.
The AOH flyer uses the symbol of a Mass Rock, celebrating the spirit of ancestors who overcame British Penal Laws to hear Mass said in Irish, as an example to those who are keeping Irish language and tradition alive today despite COVID.
Bronx County AOH President and National Freedom for all Ireland Chair Martin Galvin noted, “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. COVID has given these Mass Rocks an added symbolism, for those prevented from attending Church by the health crisis.
“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 from AOH leaders nationally, Gaelic clubs, Woodlawn Irish community groups, musicians and individuals who would just like to hear the Mass said in the language of our ancestors. We are grateful to St. Barnabas and Father Fitzgerald for hosting the Mass and making it available nationally."
Safe seating restrictions and face masks will be required from those attending in person.