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Irish Gazette

Published by the Baypoint-Blue Point Chamber of Commerce
New York

March 2004

Be there on March 14

Spring is in the air and as always the primary colour in our community at this time of year is GREEN. Come Sunday March 14th 2004, you're going to see so much green, you'll actually think you are in Ireland.

This year's Grand Marshal, Sr Philomena O'Brien of St Ursulas, will lead off the day down by Bayport Avenue, when Chris Cavanaugh will part the clouds and bring forth the sun. Shiny fire trucks, hundreds of bagpipers, a dalmation, the giant bicycle guy, cub scouts, girl scouts, little- leagers in uniform, guys in old cars, guys in skirts, guys in skirts in old cars, the list goes on and on. But the music will be the best. Bagpipe bands from all over the place playing the finest Irish music this side of Lahinch.

We hope you will all join us on Montauk Highway and at the festivities that follow in our local pubs and the Blue Point Firehouse.

We have a lot to be thankful for in our lives and our beautiful community and we'd like to take a moment here to say thanks to Bayport Vinyl Siding and The Bayport House Restaurant for their outstanding support of this years parade. Without them and help from Clare Rose, The Bayport Rower Houses, Washington Mutual, the Town of Brookhaven and countless other businesses and organizations, we would all be watching tulips pop instead of enjoying the best parade around.

Grand Marshall 2004 - Sister Philomena O'Brien

  • Seventeen-year-old Philomena O'Brien boarded a ship in 1935, leaving her native Fethard and Ireland for a distant place called Blue Point.

    She had chosen America as her missionary field as a refinement of her desire to spread the Kingdom of God. But upon arriving, her expectations of the mission seemed questionable. For here was a place so far away from everything, so far into the country, that her first thought was "This is America?" The landscape was sparsely dotted with homes and in the First Communion Class were only 12 children.

    Times changed of course, and with the dawning of the modem age, Long Island towns and villages became vibrant communities. Year later, she realized that the long voyage from her beloved homeland was her answer to Divine guidance. It was her missionary zeal -the mysterious call of God -that sums up her reason for entering the convent.

    Looking back through the years and the many memories she cherishes, Sister Philomena fondly recalls John Paul becoming Pope in 1960. Many restrictions regarding women in the Church were being lifted, and choices began to open up for her, providing the opportunity to earn a Bachelor's Degree in English and History from Fordham University, and a Master's Degree in History and her Doctorate in Political Science from) St. John's University.

    She was asked to fill a variety of roles, including 18 years as a grade school teacher in Howard Beach, six years as principal at St. Maurice's School in Stamford, Conn., and 10 years as Provincial of her congregation. She also spent six years in Oyster Bay where she conducted retreats. The remaining 20 years were spent as the Director of the St Ursula Retreat Center.

    While serving as Director, Sister Philomena began the St. Patrick's Dinner- Dance that was originally held in the Knights of Columbus Hall in Patchogue. When one of her former pupils, Daniel Walsh, was the honouree and over 600 guests wanted to attend, the dinner had to be moved to the much larger West Lake Inn, where it has been held every year since. This very popular event is one of the major sources of financing for the Center. Additionally, Sister initiated the annual Valentines' Day Dance and the well-attended Craft Fair held annually in the fall. Now retired, she continues to offer spiritual guidance to former pupils, long-time friends, and the communities she loves: Blue Point and Bayport.

    "My affection for these two communities has no bounds," Sister says, adding that "the people are in my daily thoughts and prayers, particularly the people of the parish. To be selected as Grand Marshal for the 2004 Chamber of Commerce St. Patty's Day Parade is an honour, and 1 am extremely grateful."


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