The AOH is the oldest lay Catholic ethnic organization operating in the United States. The Hibernians represent the most broadly based Irish-American organization with over 80,000 members in 46 States, Canada and Ireland.
The twin constitutional goals of the Irish and Catholic membership is to assist in the re-unification of Ireland, support the church and its mission and promote Irish culture.
Support the raising of monuments to famed Irish or Irish-Americans (Commodore Barry, Robert Emmett) and memorials to events like the Great Hunger or the slaughter of abortion which are in every major American city, ie: Mobile, AL (Fr Abram Ryan), Washington, DC (Nuns of the Battlefield), Valley Forge, PA (Medal of Honor grove), and Chicago, IL (.Mt Olivet Cemetery).
The history of the AOH lies not just in big cities but tracks America’s expansion West along the Lewis and Clark Trail (St Anne’s, Great Falls, MT), along the Cherokee trail (Sacred Heart, Pueblo, CO) and along side the Central Pacific Railroad from Ogden, UT (St. Joseph’s) to Sacramento, CA (Old Cathedral).
The march of the AOH across the continent stretches from first stop on the National Road (St Patrick’s, Cumberland, MD) to Seattle, WA (St James Cathedral) with lesser known stops along the way that have all but vanished……Hinckletown IA, Snoddy’s Mill, IN, Kalo, IA . Forty Fort, PA, Irwin, GA and Iron Mountain, MO.
Early history and growth of Hibernians is linked to mining for gold (Yreka, CA), copper and silver (Butte & Anaconda, MT), iron ore in Escanaba, MI (St Patrick’s) and Mt Pleasant, PA (St Joseph’s), hard rock mining (St Peter’s, Rutland, VT) and coal in Schuylkill Co, PA. where the infamous Molly Maguire trials were held
Hibernians shared meeting halls with other fraternal societies like the Foresters, Odd Fellows, Knights of Columbus, Knights of Pythias, and the GAR but were bitter opponents of the anti-Catholic and anti-Irish Know-Nothings who burned and attacked Catholic churches throughout the country.
Members of the AOH have included labor leaders Terrence Powderly and John Sweeney, Bishops John Lennon and Fulton Sheen, and John Cardinal O’Connor, astronaut James McDevitt, President John F. Kennedy, insurance industry leader Bill Flynn, actor Pat O’Brien, Civil War General Thomas Francis Meagher, and recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor