One month ago I was preparing this message for the Dooley Dispatch looking ahead eagerly to a calendar full of activities and events in our busiest time of year. I gathered with the Officers on March 10th prior to our regular Business meeting and a comment was made, “I heard the Church Hill Irish Festival could be cancelled.” I was floored, to that point the thought of that happening had not even crossed my mind! By late the following evening, what had not even been part of my consciousness had indeed become reality. I was not unaware or naïve to the seriousness of the COVID-19 Virus, I had spent much of that week and the week prior arranging and rearranging several work-related events with numerous customers scheduled to attend. I simply had not prepared myself for the thought that the event which has been the highlight of the year most of the 10 years that I have been a member of the Dooley Division and which is the consistent platform for the expression of our Irish Catholic heritage would, out of necessity of the circumstances be cancelled in its entirety.
As we all experienced, what a difference a few days makes as our world collectively, personal, work and certainly AOH-related came to a screeching halt and the guidelines of social distancing and stay at-home orders became our existence. This of course, resulted in the cancelling or rescheduling of all our events in March including the St. Patrick’s Day Mass and Breakfast in addition to the Irish Festival. Nevertheless, with this new reality we have already taken steps to carry on as much as we can within the limits of of safe social gathering by planning to conduct our next Business meeting on April 14th virtually via the Zoom platform. Our media expert Pat Shea has sent the invitation for the meeting out to everyone on the email list so if it was not received or anyone has technical challenges please reach out to Pat (firstname.lastname@example.org) for assistance so that you can join the meeting on Tuesday evening at 7 pm. Conducting our meeting through a streaming service while we are all at home will be an interesting and likely a learning experience. I have participated in many Webex’s and in some cases run them for work but an interactive, engaging event such as our monthly Business meeting goes to an entirely new level. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to it and hope to have as many of you join as possible.
In Preparation for the virtual meeting, I do have a few requests. First if there are any prayer requests, particularly related to COVID-19 but any of importance to each of you, please forward them to Scott Nugent (email@example.com) prior to them meeting to be added to the prayer list.
Second, I explained in my email update of March 19th that the drawing date for our raffle was postponed indefinitely until when or if the Irish Festival could be rescheduled or another event planned that would be suitable for holding the drawing. While we are hopeful that the Irish Festival will be rescheduled, at the moment, that has not happened and there is still not great clarity as to when that will happen. As such, many members in past years have paid annual dues by turning in 10 sold or purchased tickets in lieu of annual dues at the Irish Festival. I ask that you not delay further in doing so if that is your intent but contact either Jim Woods (Jwoods0701@gmail.com) or John Costello (firstname.lastname@example.org) to make arrangements to do so through the mail or otherwise. With the uncertainty and outstanding questions regarding potential loss of revenue from reduced or no sales at all that we typically project from the Irish Festival, it is important to take steps that we can control such as paying annual dues and at least getting that money “on the books”. Having a solid understanding of where we are financially at any point in time over the next few months is necessary to making the best decisions for living our motto of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity as we move forward together in the these unprecedented times.
Third, be wise and vigilant in following the guidelines of social distancing despite our social natures and inclination, with the hope and intent that by collectively taking these steps we best serve each other and our larger community.
Finally, pray for the health, safety and well-being of all Hibernians, our immediate and distant families, all those around the world affected by the COVID-19 virus, particularly for the repose of the souls those who have lost their lives. Pray for all health care providers in our hospitals caring for COVID-19 patients and other patients who have fallen ill or to injury during this challenging period. Pray that a solution for slowing and preventing further spread of the COVID-19 virus be identified swiftly.
As the Irish always have we will persevere through these challenging times and come out stronger for it. God bless. See you virtually Tuesday evening.
In Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity,
President Major James Dooley Division
Ancient Order of Hibernians