Five students win Hibernian scholarships to high schools

The winners of the 2018 Hibernian scholarships, Anna Cernich, Olivia Ervie, Josh Frerker, Olivia Powell and Anna Frerker, stand for a photo with Bishop Johnston and two of the essay judges following the presentations Aug. 9. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — One by one, five high school students read 500-word (or less) essays they had written to Bishop James V. Johnston Jr., their families and members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians during a meeting at Redemptorist Parish. Each student was awarded a $500 scholarship to their high school.

For eight years, the Padraig Pearse chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians has awarded scholarships to local students attending Catholic high schools. To be considered for a scholarship, an applicant must meet certain criteria, including listing on the application Community Activities, Leadership and community recognitions; Religious activities, leadership and recognition, and scholastic and school activities, leadership and recognition. For these, the applicant is accorded points. The largest number of points accorded is based on an essay. The topic of the essay is always Irish or Ireland-related and Catholic, and in past years have included Irish saints, heroes. leaders and, of course, St. Patrick.

This year, 21 applicants wrote about quintessential examples of Irish-Catholic Americans —men and women who were inspirational, served and saved others or who built something that still resonates with the public years after their death. The points awarded for the essays added to points accorded for the community, religious and scholastic activities and leadership gave each of the five winners the points needed for the scholarship.

Bishop Johnston praised the scholarship winners, calling them “fine examples of our young people growing in wisdom.” Catholic schools, he said, provide excellent education and formation of faith and wisdom, as is shown in the lives and works of people of faith who have gone before us. “It’s a treat to be a part of this.”

Anna Cernich, a sophomore at St. Pius X high school, and a member of St. Therese-north parish, wrote an essay on “the quintessential representation of an Irish-American who embodies the jubilant traditions and legacies of Ireland yet works to make America one of great virtue and faith, the late Bishop Raymond J. Boland” of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
Olivia Ervie, a senior at St. Pius X High School and a member of St. James Parish in Liberty, wrote about Father Edward J. Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town, “the epitome of a selfless person and child of God whose good works touched the lives of many and still continue to do so.”

Josh Frerker, a sophomore at Rockhurst High School and a member of Cure of Ars Parish in Leawood, Kan., wrote about James Hoban, the 18th century Irish architect who designed the White House and contributed to the design of the U.S. Capitol Building and others in Washington, D.C., and in South Carolina. The student described Hoban as “…an example of passion and dedication towards his job and faith.”

Anna Frerker, a junior at Notre Dame de Sion High School and Cure of Ars parishioner, wrote about Mary Frances Clarke, and her friends Eliza Kelly, Margaret Mann, Rose O’Toole and Catherine Byrne, educators who emigrated to the U.S., in 1833 to work with children and two months later founded the religious order, The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Clarke “taught her students to grow into leaders through challenge confidence and maturity.”

Olivia Powell, a sophomore at St. Teresa’s Academy and a member of St. Peter’s Parish, wrote about Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, “a voice for the silenced, for child laborers and workers in unsafe conditions.” She organized rallies for child mill workers, and for miners’ safety, spent time in jail for her efforts and “kept the Irish battle for equality alive” until her death at the age of 100 in 1930.


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