Hibernians pledge to expand funds and education to promote life

QUINCY, Mass. (CNS) -- Jack Meehan, president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, has urged fellow members to "fight the scourge of abortion" by increasing their support of pro-life efforts.

Meehan, who resides in Quincy, sent a letter to members of the Irish-American lay Catholic group Dec. 28 asking them to "stand up and speak out as never before in defense of human life."

He suggested that the Hibernians expand their pro-life activism with "practical and material support" by continuing to help expectant mothers seeking aid from pregnancy crisis centers and Birthright, an international organization with local chapters that assists women experiencing crisis pregnancies.

Meehan also said group members should continue to support Priests for Life and purchase educational pro-life materials for schools and families. They were also advised to add the Sisters of Life to their Hibernian Charity program donations. Founded in 1991, the Sisters of Life are known nationally for their pro-life work and for giving pro-life retreats in their New York-area convents.

In urging fellow members to increase their support for pro-life efforts, Meehan urged them to remember the words of Pope John Paul II in his 1979 visit to Ireland. During that visit, the pope described abortion as "one of the abominable crimes" and said the "defense of unborn life is part of the defense of human rights and dignity."

Meehan applauded the pro-life efforts already demonstrated by Hibernians, including erecting memorial monuments to those who had been aborted and attending the annual March for Life in Washington protesting the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

"We must re-energize ourselves to fight the scourge of abortion in the same steadfast manner that we have used to fight the many injustices wreaked upon Catholics/nationalists in the North of Ireland," he said.

"We, like past generations, draw strength from prayers to St. Patrick and St. Brigid who inspired so many Irish to serve the poor, the defenseless and the powerless," Meehan said. "The legacy of compassion will now be given new luster by a highly focused Hibernian program in defense of the unborn."

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, founded in New York in 1836, describes itself as the oldest lay Catholic organization in the United States.