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Two societies contribute to Carnegie communities

| Thursday, April 4, 2013, 1:30 p.m.

Their members host fish frys, march in parades or organize food drive collections, but many people may not know the backgrounds of two fraternal societies that contribute much to local communities.

Following the motto of “friendship, unity and Christian charity,” members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 32 of Carnegie recently concluded a successful fish fry at their meeting space within the Ukrainian-American Citizens Club, Mansfield Avenue, Carnegie.

The organization's roots go back more than 300 years to Ireland. The first Hibernian group in the United States was founded in the 1840s to help Irish workers, as well as to maintain Irish history and traditions.

Division 32 was formed almost 25 years ago, naming itself “Sean MacBride” after the co-founder of Amnesty International and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974. Division 32's women's division — “Maud Gonne (the mother of Sean MacBride)” — was formed in 1991. This year, the group was named the Best Overall Entry in last month's St. Patrick's Day Parade in downtown Pittsburgh.

The Hibernians are the nation's largest Roman Catholic fraternal organization with 80,000 members in divisions across the U.S. Ethnic activities as well as community involvement keep the membership busy.

Funds raised by events such as the recent fish fry have gone to support the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Ronald McDonald House, and the Little Sisters of the Poor. The group also offers support to veterans and Irish and Irish-American organizations as well as scholarships.

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The Polish Falcons of America, a fraternal benefit society and physical fitness organization, is a direct outgrowth of a similar organization developed in Poland in 1867 incorporating physical education. The group's national headquarters has been in Green Tree since 1984, although the first nest, or lodge, in the U.S. was organized in Chicago in 1887.

Admittance is only through sponsorship by a current member and approval of officers. Qualifications are that a person be of good moral character, and be judged supportive of the purpose and ethnic heritage of the Polish Falcons of America.

There are 85 nests serving more than 23,000 members located largely on the mid-Atlantic and East Coast.

Nest 77 of Carnegie has been in existence since 1906.

The organization's building, located at 228 Ignatius, contains a bar and dance floor, banquet area, ping pong table, pool table, darts and other recreational games.

A social group, the Polish Falcons provide many member-only family functions, while also participating in community clothes and food drives that have benefited the Salvation Army and the Light of Life Rescue Mission, among others.

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Charlotte Smith is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media and can be reached at 724-693-9441 or

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