You are viewing the electronic version of Emerald
the monthly publication of the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin
Attention All Chapters
Milwaukee President's Message
Shamrock Club of Rock County
Shamrock Club of Greater LaCrosse
Welcome New Members
Tom Sweeney Concert -- ICHC in November
Four Weeks of Irish Set Dance Classes
Carmel Quinn to Perform at ICHC
O'Deas from Around the World Gather in Ireland
Noted Irish Soprano at ICHC
Study in Ireland
Milwaukee Irish Arts Play Readings
Recipes of Irish Foods
by Barry Stapleton
Town of Erin, Wisconsin. This is home to many of the Shamrock Club members' ancestors. On a steep rolling hill which overlooks the valley below and gives a clear shot of Holy Hill to the east, lie five generations of my father's family. It is a place I cherish.
There are many descendants of the first settlers still living here. Many more have come and the farms are quickly becoming new subdivisions, but it's still Erin and no man will ever completely tame the hills, tamarack swamps or kettles. Its natural setting and beauty are its largest assets.
Michael Lynch is responsible for making it into one of Wisconsin's largest Irish settlements. He was a land agent who, they say, had a mouth big enough for two sets of teeth. He did his job and Erin's land was all sold in about a year. The farms were made on some of the worst land in the county, but yet they stayed. It was their home and they loved it. Rural, land with character, and far enough away from the rest of the world that you didn't hear all the nonsense happening in the big cities. They made their own news and built their own community.
Today people move to Erin for many of the same reasons. To raise their children in an environment where everyone matters. In a community where everyone helps out. In a town that, comparatively speaking, is still rural. The people that live in Erin today appreciate their community as much as the original settlers, however different they may be.
These new tenants are even willing to pay higher taxes than in other communities to live there. The lack of industry and the DNR ownership of land leave the majority of the tax burden to the homeowners.
Erin offers some of the best scenery in southeastern Wisconsin. Every October it is a destination point for thousands seeking the changing of colors on the foliage. Erin is also home to one of the most notable churches in Wisconsin, Holy Hill. Yet anyone who has been with me on a tour of Erin knows that another church must be visited as well, that church being St. Patrick.
St. Patrick's church stands on high ground in a little hamlet called Thompson. It is on the north side of the Town of Erin along Hwy. 83. The church is white with black trim and the simple words above the door say "St. Patrick 1855". One of the oldest existing churches in the State of Wisconsin. Across the street is the cemetery where so many stories are told. It's a hard place for an Irishman not to feel at home!
St. Patrick's church has been a central part of life in Erin for 144 years. On June 13 of this year St. Patrick's church celebrated its last mass. The Milwaukee Archdiocese merged St. Patrick Parish with St. Kilian's in Hartford. St. Patrick's church will only be used as a chapel for occasional ceremonies and the cemetery will be maintained.
The Archdiocese has been working on many mergers within the last decade. The main reason for this is a shortage of priests and "to effectively manage church resources."
Many people from St. Patrick Parish have tried to reverse this decision and after the church closed its doors they became the "Save St. Patrick" group that meets every Tuesday at Erin Town Hall.
The group has a growing number of backers and has made headlines in all of the local newspapers and also the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
While anyone with an eye to business can understand what the Catholic Church was trying to do, this particular case is perplexing.
St. Patrick Parish was experiencing one of its most successful periods in its history. Consider these three items.
Its membership had steadily increased to where their two Sunday masses were at 95% capacity. This was quoted from their parish priest, Father Vogel, in a letter to the Archdiocese. The number of households attending St. Patrick had jumped from 41 in 1971 to 186 in 1999.
Secondly, the parish had just finished renovating the church. The church was damaged by soot and a lot of work needed to be done. With insurance money and memorials from parishioners they updated the wiring, lighting and heating along with a recent paint job. St. Patrick's church was and is in the best physical condition it has known in decades, if not the whole of this century!
Thirdly, the parish was experiencing financial success. In the 1997-98 financial report the parish showed a total income over expenses of $23,731.81. Their 1998-99 financial report shows their checking, savings and certificates of deposit at a total cash value of $104,391.64. Truly remarkable considering the number of parishioners and the renovations they had just completed.
When Father Vogel wrote to the Archdiocese he asked that the parish not be merged at this time so that "the people can enjoy the fruits of their sacrifices, waiting and longing." He also asked to continue serving as parish administrator and priest to St. Mary's in Richfield and St. Patrick in Erin until his mandatory retirement in 2006. This was denied.
"Save St. Patrick" has come up with other alternatives for the priest shortage. They took a look at what the Madison Diocese did by employing priests from other countries, and they also have studied the success of Archdiocese of Omaha and the Lincoln, Nebraska Diocese.
Another issue which developed was regarding which parish St. Patrick would be merged with. Originally, they were to be merged with a group of five county parishes which would have made sense, but in the end they were merged with a city parish which was much too progressive for them.
The "Save St. Patrick" group has done their homework and also hired a lawyer. They have tried to meet with Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland in hopes of having some of their questions answered but no meeting has yet to be granted.
Even the Rev. Larry Westfield of St. Olaf's Lutheran Church in nearby Alderly wrote the Milwaukee Archdiocese stating that "St. Patrick's church has been a vital center for the entire Christian Community, not just the Catholic Community. We do many ecumenical services together, and this is going to leave a terrible void in the community."
For more information on the "Save St. Patrick" group, please call Maureen J. FitzsimmonsVanden Heuvel at (414) 670-0975. A web site has also been established at www.savestpatrick.com.
Attention All Chapters
We received two responses to our appeal for a State Meeting and one list of all officers' names and addresses. We would really like to hear from five (5) more chapters in regards to a time and agenda, also names, addresses, and phone numbers of officers. Then I can call you!
- Cate Harris
Milwaukee President's Message
The heat and humidity of summer are over and we settle into the fall season and its events.
This is a follow up on the Golf Outing. It was held on Sunday, August 29 and was a big success. It was attended by 90 diners and 60 golfers. It was a best ball game and certainly gave our once a year golfers a chance to come out and do their thing. There were many door prize winners as well as individual accomplishments. All winners were very happy. Richard Stover is to be congratulated on making this event a huge success as well as putting more than $600 into the Shamrock Club treasury.
The picnic was September 5 and attendance was up. Joe Hughes and some of his hurling team were there and put on a demonstration in the hot sun for the picnickers that walked down to the field. They promise more excitement next year.
The response to the Bradley Center request for volunteers has been good. We need more of you to come and help us.
Folk Fair will be at State Fair Park and as of now, all the exhibits, food booths and entertainment will be indoors and warm. Please sign up to work Food Booth by calling Pete and Fran Dundon (414) 242-8245; Noreen Barclay 695-8563 in Sales; and Mary McAndrews 276-8779. They thank you for your help. Don't forget to buy your entertainment book. It's really a savings if you use it only twice to treat yourself and spouse/guest to dinner.
- Cate Harris
OCTOBER CALENDAR OF EVENTS
In August our picnic was held inside at the Senior Center so the picnic beetles and mosquitoes were not a problem. Thirty six people came to our picnic, as always the food was great and everyone had a good time. Patrick and Gertrude Walsh from Wexford, Ireland were guests of Tom and Mary Kennedy at that time and came to the picnic. They had the opportunity to visit with some of the club members who had hosted the Walsh Irish Dancers when they were here in Rock County in 1985 and again in 1989. Mary McBride was at the picnic and shared a little of her wit and wisdom with our club.
On August 29 our club members worked in the "Brat Stand" at Wal-Mart in Beloit as a fund raising project for our club. Kay Mackey was the chairperson and the volunteers were Mary and Dave Bickle, Marjorie Reed, Mary E. Sergent, Mary Lowrie, Betty Ewers, Fred McCann, Rosie and Mike Hughes, Ken Flanagan, Mary and Tom Kennedy and Jim Mackey. For more information about the "Brat Stand" (we don't have a web site) come to the next meeting to hear what a very enjoyable and successful day we had.
Come to the meeting Oct. 19 and help us make plans for our Christmas Party. We are looking forward to your ideas and suggestions for that party and for club activities for the coming year.
- Tom Kennedy
We have recently been involved in traditional LaCrosse activities such as Opening the Golden Beer Can; Tapping the Golden Beer Keg; Floating in the Mapleleaf Parade; Selling Irish Stew at Heritage Night; and appearing in the Torchlight Parade. Yes people, it was Oktoberfest in LaCrosse!
We will now settle down for a few months with a Board Meeting on November 10, participation in the Festival of Lights after Thanksgiving; and our big, end of the year Christmas Party on December 10. Our Club has no contingency plan for Y2K.
-- Fred Smith
Welcome New Members
DANE COUNTY -- Don Casgrove.
MILWAUKEE -- Ms. Jane C. Podemski; James and Helen LeClaire; Barbara King and Timothy Wood; W. Brennan; Hal Butler; Bella Horn; Dave and Kathy Powers; Christopher P. Brody; Kathleen Jasinski; Maureen McGinley Donowski; Tom, Kathleen, Brian, Stephen Maeve Smith; Mark Laughran.
The Shamrock Club's first Irish Rose, Jeanne McCue, has made another trip to Bosnia to aid refugees and the following is her own account. Jeanne is a registered nurse. She can be reached at: (414) 962-2841.
Once again it is my pleasure to update you on my 17th mission to Bosnia and extend the gratitude of all who benefit from your generosity and caring.
A trip planned for May, was delayed until July due to the temporary closure of the Sarajevo Airport during the conflict in Kosovo. Our medical and refugee supplies arrived by air soon after it opened and I distributed them to refugees, orphans, hospitals and the NJEGA Home Hospice program.
NJEGA is the first home hospice of its kind in Bosnia for cancer patients (many who are refugees) in and around Sarajevo. We are the first benefactors of this new project started by two sisters from Ireland this year, who have the full cooperation of the city officials and Sarajevo Medical Center. There is a high incidence of cancer in refugee patients who have been unable to obtain medical care during the war. Srs. Anne and Rosaleen have asked me to thank you for your help which enables them to provide medical services and palliative care to relieve the pain and suffering of their terminally ill patients.
The POTUVICI refugee camp is one of 19 located about 25 miles from Sarajevo. Most camps have 300-400 refugees, many are elderly and most are women and children living in crude barracks without bathrooms or adequate water supplies. It was here that we distributed school supplies, hygiene packs filled with toy surprises and shirts (hand painted by Pewaukee Girl Scouts) to the grateful children of the camp. Their smiles and hugs were my reward.
From the bottom of my heart I thank all of you for organizing school and church drives, for dropping supplies at my door and office, for sending them UPS from many states and for your generous donations which cover air cargo costs. Your compassionate giving and prayerful support is deeply appreciated. My next mission is planned for late Octber. God Bless You All!
-- Jeane McCue
Tom Sweeney Concert --
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