Roanoke City Mayor David Bowers recently installed the 2015 officers of the Father Lynch Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH). The AOH (Irish Catholics) in America was born when the Hibernian Benevolent Society in Pennsylvania’s Schuykill County traveled to New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and, while there, met and merged with the St. Patrick Fraternal Society.
Soon other Irish societies like the Hibernian Friendship Society in Arlington, Virginia, joined the AOH. In America, the Division is the basic unit of the Order. Divisions are combined into County Boards which are in turn governed by State Boards, and overall National Board. Division and Hibernian Halls across the country have traditionally provided a welcome for new immigrants.
Our local Division, the Father Lynch Division, is named after Father John W. Lynch, the first priest and pastor of historic St. Andrew’s Catholic Church. Father Lynch said the first Mass on November 19, 1882, in a passenger coach located at the bottom of the hill of what is now St. Andrew’s hill. The AOH donated the St. Patrick stained glass window at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in 1902.
The local AOH sponsors a St. Patrick’s Day dinner to raise money for scholarships to Roanoke Catholic Schools. AOH members continue to assist priests in Catholic churches from Lexington to Blacksburg as ushers, lectors, and ministers of the Eucharist.
An important part of every monthly meeting is an Irish history presentation. Past President, the late Raymond Donnelly, originally started the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Roanoke, which has become one of the largest in the south.
Their motto is “Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity.”
For additional information on the local division of the AOH, contact:
Bill Howard, President
Email: [email protected]