Hibernians Start Scholarship Program

As president of the third Bronx division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Robert Nolan knew he could raise money, but he also wanted to make the best use of it.

That’s when he sought Monsignor Donald Dwyer’s advice, Vicar of the East Bronx. Over lunch, Dwyer suggested that Nolan start a scholarship fund for students at local Catholic schools who would be attending high school in fall 2011.

On the weekend of June 17, those students received their scholarship checks at their elementary school graduations. Nolan, along with other members of the Hibernians, organized a golf outing this spring at Pelham/Split Rock Golf Course. They raised a couple of thousand dollars from approximately 80 players that turned out.

Not much of a golfer himself, the fact that the organization was able to raise the money, made the day memorable for Nolan.

“My biggest excitement of the day was hitting a ball into some trees them finding two golf balls,” Nolan said. “We had a raffle and gave out golfing awards, but when I found out we cleared about $2,000 I was thrilled.”

The scholarship money was distributed evenly between the four students; Sabrina Musto of St. Francis Xavier, Kevin Conway Silverberg of Our Lady of the Assumption, Mary Kate Durkin of St. Benedict’s and Erin Neville of St. Frances de Chantal. Recipients were chosen by the schools’ principals.

It was OLA pastor Father Dwyer’s guidance at their lunch meeting that led Nolan to go the educational route.

“He thought for a few seconds and said ‘Bob if you can raise money and provide scholarships for youngsters who are graduating eight grade, that would be a terrific thing,’” recalled Nolan.

The Hibernians were formed in New York City in 1836 by Irish Catholics who were being persecuted as new immigrants to the Unites States. Since the group was founded on the principal of protecting Irish traditions as well as Irish churches, which were under threat of violence at the time, Nolan decided to make the scholarship recipients at least partially Irish.

“The Hibernians were formed to be defenders and protectors of the Church,” Nolan said. “So this is something we wanted to do. Our motto is ‘Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity.’”

Despite his last name, scholarship recipient and recent OLA graduate Kevin Conway Silverberg is three-quarters Irish.

“He found out there on the spot, so he was extremely surprised,” said his mother Anne Silverberg. “I was very surprised and happy. It was very nice.”

The Country Club resident is the seventh of eight children from his family to attend OLA. An avid basketball player, he will continue his studies, on and off the hardwood, at Salesian High School in New Rochelle.

The Hibernians’ next major event is a dinner at Maestro’s on Thursday, June 30. Honorees will include Congressman Joe Crowley, Joseph Kelleher of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, Throggs Neck Clipper owners Paeder and Eileen Tierney, former Congressman Mario Biaggi and Father Dwyer.

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