Here are some people we should give thanks to this Thanksgiving.

Pope Francis: A breath of fresh air into a stultified and oppressive church which had badly lost its way.  His evident humility and common man demeanor has made the church accessible and accepting for millions again.

George Mitchell: The Irish peacemaker continues to amaze with his efforts to batten down the peace process he did so much to create. Still speaking out to Irish community groups and others about the need to be vigilant about the peace process.

Father Alec Reid: Recently passed away, but without him there would be no peace process in Ireland. Unlike so many who claim credit, he stood alone for many years and never asked for thanks.

ILIR: The Irish lobby group continues to fight the good fight on immigration reform despite tough odds and the naysayers.

Rockaway Irish: Their resilience and recovery from Hurricane Sandy has sent a message about strength and class under pressure.

Boston first responders: They responded so bravely and so compassionately to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year.

Loretta Brennan Glucksman: As she steps down as head of American Ireland Fund, it’s time to honor a classy woman who transformed that organization and donated so much to worthy Irish causes.

Stella O’Leary: The woman who has kept the Irish flag flying in Washington as head of Irish American Democrats for decades now. Lost her wonderful spouse Tom this year, but keeps on keeping on.

Jean Kennedy Smith: Last of the Kennedys, and her poignant appearance at JFK’s grave in Arlington on the anniversary of the assassination was a moment to remember and admire.
Don Keough: Former Coca-Cola head and extraordinary Irish activist recently donated $30 million to Notre Dame. One of a kind.

Charles Feeney: The greatest Irish or American philanthropist of his time will give away $7.5 billion to worthy causes by the time he is finished, including over $1 billion to Irish education.

Concern: The Irish charity that keeps on giving to the weakest of the weak and which has established a powerful beachhead in America.

Tom Brady: Sure, New Yorkers hate the New England Patriots quarterback because he always beats us, but what a talent as even Peyton Manning will tell you.

Dame Judi Dench: Just go see her portrayal of an Irish Magdalene survivor in Philomena. What an actress

Bill Clinton: The big dog just keeps looking better and better as the political gridlock continues. A frequent visitor to Ireland and always refers to his amazing work in Ireland during his speeches.

Colum McCann: National Book Prize winner and wonderful Irish novelist based in New York. His latest work TransAtlantic is a true gem.

Dr. Kevin Cahill: After 40 years he stepped down as head of the American Irish Historical Society having saved and restored its incredible headquarters on Fifth Avenue. A renaissance man, physician, writer, community leader.

Ray Kelly: Just a magnificent NYPD commissioner who made our beloved city so much safer. To hell with the begrudgers!

Happy Thanksgiving all!