Comhghairdeas and maith thu AOH scholarship winners!

(l-r) Madison McCormick, Rosemary Cherian, Bishop Johnston, Katherine Kallas and Olivia Powell pose with Hibernian officers and judges after the essay readings Aug. 10 at Redemptorist Parish Hall.
(Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — Four young women received $500 scholarships to their high schools based on scholastic activities and leadership, community and faith-based leadership, service and a short essay, awarded by the Padraig Pearse Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Past years’ topics included Irish saints and historical figures; last year’s topic was the centennial of the Easter Rising. This year, the essay was to be about an Irish saint, not named Patrick.

The Hibernian judges received applications from students at eight area Catholic high schools: St. Pius X, St. Teresa’s Academy, Sion and Rockhurst, all in Kansas City, St. Michael the Archangel, Lee’s Summit, Bishop LeBlond, St. Joseph, St. James Academy, Shawnee, Kan., and St. Thomas Aquinas, Overland Park, Kan. Twelve freshmen, six sophomores, four juniors and six seniors applied for the scholarship.

The four awardees, two from St. Teresa’s Academy and two from St. Pius X, read their essays to Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., their families and a good-sized group of Hibernians the evening of Aug. 10 at Redemptorist Parish Hall.

St. Teresa’s freshman Olivia Powell wrote on St. Ailbe, disciple of St. Patrick, Bishop of Emily, Munster, patron saint of Munster and of wolves. His name derives from the Irish for ‘rock’ and ‘alive,’ a fitting name considering the legend — how and where a she-wolf found him after he was abandoned as an infant. The sixth century saint is still loved and honored in Ireland and in Irish communities like Chicago, where a church bears his name.

St. Pius X senior Madison McCormick wrote about St. Ita of Killeedy (Church of St. Ita). As a young girl, she predicted that her father, who was insisting on her marrying, would change his mind and allow her to become a nun, which he did. As a nun, she worked miracles and prophesied. Her miracles include reattaching the head of a soldier and bringing him back to life, restoring vision, voices, and life to others. She lived solely on “food from heaven,” dying in 570 at the age of 95. She is venerated in Ireland.

St. Teresa’s sophomore Katherine Kallas chose St. Grimonia, virgin and martyr. Daughter of a pagan Irish chief, she converted to Christianity at age 12 and vowed perpetual virginity. Forced to flee her father’s outrage as he wanted her to marry, she hid in a forest in France. Found by her father’s servants, she was given an ultimatum: marriage or death. Grimonia was beheaded. She faced her fear and refused marriage. “She wouldn’t break her promise to the Lord,” Katherine wrote.

St. Pius X senior Rosemary Cherian selected “courageously Catholic” St. Oliver Plunkett. Born into a titled Irish family, he wanted to be a priest during the time of Oliver Cromwell’s anti-Catholic persecution. “He was ordained in Italy, serving there until Cromwell’s death, when he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh and received the … title of … Primate of All Ireland. …Increasing anti-Catholic sentiment forced the archbishop into hiding, but he refused to abandon his archdiocese. He was finally captured and arrested in 1679. On July 11, 1681, he publicly forgave his persecutors before being hung, drawn, and quartered. … beheaded, his head is a relic at his shrine today. He was canonized in 1975.

“I believe that Catholics … can learn from St. Oliver about being relentless and bold in their faith. Perhaps by following the example of the patron saint of peace and reconciliation in Ireland, Catholics will … bring about peace and reconciliation in America.”

Bishop Johnston presented each awardee with a $500 check from the Hibernians and then posed with the winners and the judges for photos.
At the close of the essay readings, four young Hibernians who had recently become engaged to be married, were called forward to receive the bishop’ blessing on their futures.



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October 30, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph