Chatting with Chapey
by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader
St. Pat’s Day Parade Scholarship Winners
The James Conway Sullivan Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Cultural Committee awards scholarships to youngsters each year. The winners are chosen based on a critical review of their essays submitted through their school to the parade scholarship committee. The members of the committee are: Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Chair, Dr. Robert Hoatson and Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey.
This year’s essay submissions were thoughtful, insightful and well written. The experience of the Irish in America was the general topic of this years contest. Each submission re view ed different aspects of the contributions of Irish immigrants to our American society and culture. This year’s winners are: Tina Adjei Bos ompeon, Caroline Carrion, Megan Fitzpatrick, Kerry King, Matt Patter son and Kimberly Watty. These young sters are to be congratulated for their outstanding essays. They are scholarly, well researched and historically ac curate. Each essay presented by the winn er showed insight into the immigrant experience in America.
Megan Fitzpatrick wrote about the Irish in America and looked at their contributions to our country. She point ed out that many leaders in U. S. history were of Irish descent including Pres idents Washington, Jackson, Reag an, Polk, Buchanan, McKinley, Wilson, Nixon and Kennedy.
Many well-known entertainers also shared an Irish heritage inc luding Maureen O’Hara, John Wayne, Judy Garland, Bill Haley, Audie Murphy and the Dorsey Brothers. Megan points out the im portant work being done in our community by the Irish. She looks to an important Irish role model who has done great and wonderful things in our community through his many endeavors including founding the Caffrey Conroy Learning Center. The founder is her own grandfather – Robert Kane. Robert wanted youngsters and seniors to have access to homework assistance, one on one tutoring, computers and test preparation courses. Bob Kane has provided an environment where young people and adults can learn together and go on trips. Megan stresses that the Irish have brought many things to this country including faith in God, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to service in our communities and our nation. Congratul ations to Robert Kane and his family for their outstanding work in making our community a much better place.
Tina Adjei Bosompeon is the sister of Josephine who won the scholarship last year. Tina wrote on The Radio Priest – Father Charles Coughlin. Tina pointed out that Charles Edward Coughlin was the son of third generation Irish immigrants. He was ordain ed in 1916 and in 1926 he began his weekly broadcast on the radio. He was a powerful and engaging preacher. Within four years CBS gave him a national program. Coughlin felt that soc ial ism and communism were dangerous.
Coughlin appeared before a Congressional committee and expanded his criticisms to include leading industrialists. CBS cancelled his contract. He began his own radio network, which eventually encompassed thirty stations.
Tina Adjei Bosompeon’s conclusion is that Father Charles Coughlin was an important role model because he said what he thought was right and lived by it.
Kerry King’s essay on "The Irish in America" reviewed the struggles of the new immigrants. She found that life in Ireland was difficult but that life in America had a positive and negative side. Most employment opportunities clearly stated that "no Irish need apply". She ponders how someone could maintain themselves or their family if they were not given employment opportunities. One positive factor for the early Irish immigrants was that America was growing. It needed strong men to do the hard work of building bridges, canals and railroads. The Irish took these jobs because they were the only ones available to them. They were forced to live in ghettos. The biggest obstacles were poverty, disease and hunger. Kerry found that the Irish played an important role in defending America in every war we fought. One well know unit in the Civil War was the fighting 69th, an Irish division. Kerry pointed with pride to her family’s contributions to America. She traces her roots back to her great -grandfather who came in the 1850’s and fought in the Civil War. Her grandfather John Costello landed on Utah Beach during the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France. He was later wounded in Germany. Kerry points to her family and other Irish immigrants who came to this country with a strong work ethic and eventually became part of the social system of America.
Matt Patterson spoke about an Irish man who came from County Wexford and succeeded in establishing one of the prominent law firms in New York City – Paul O’Dwyer. He was elected and served as the President of the New York City Council. He championed civil rights by marching in Mississippi and Alabama long before it was popular. Matt finds that on the occasion of his 90th birthday Paul O’Dwyer was celebrated by Mayor Rudolph Guiliani as an exceptional example of a great New Yorker who made life better for thousands of other people. Matt feels that we can all learn from Paul O’Dwyer because although he was successful he never forgot his roots.
A0Caroline Carrion highlighted the life of Dorothy Day who was a well known journalist and peace activist. She founded the Catholic Worker move ment. Dorothy Day had a profound effect on generations of Catholic peace activists. Although Dorothy Day died in 1980 she is still remembered according to Caroline for her courage, free will and understanding for the less fortunate.
Kimberly Watty looked at Maura Clarke who was born in Queens. Maura joined the Maryknoll Sisters in 1950. Maura Clarke devoted her life to the Catholic missions serving those in need in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Maura was outstanding for her generosity of spirit. She was loving and caring. Kimberly describes Maura as supportive and very gentle. She al ways saw the good in people and could always make those whose lives she touched feel respected, important and loved. Kimberly Watty admires Sister Maura Clarke because she was generous to others and gave what she could to the poor. She gave her all, even her life, for the people she loved and served in El Salvador.
Congratulations to Michael Benn, the futuristic leader of our parade committee. He and the parade committee members are working diligently to encourage a sound education, exceptional scholarship and strong research skills in our youngsters.
A special note of thanks goes to my friend and fellow columnist – Beverly Baxter who wrote that beautiful article on the Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council. Beverly has a talent for writing. I always look to her column to find out what is going on –"On the Beach."
Kudos to Steve Cooper who was recently re-elected by the largest margin as one of the primary officers of his union—the Civil Service Tech nical Guild representing engineers and other professionals in the NYC Transit Authority. Steve is to be complimented for his care and concern for his fellow workers.