LAWRENCE — Three Irishmen who have dedicated their lives to making Greater Lawrence a better place to live by sharing of their time, talent and treasure will be honored in the following weeks.
On March 8, The Rev. James T. O’Reilly OSA Division 8 Ancient Order of Hibernians will recognize Jimmy Jacobs as the 2014 Irishman of the Year and the Rev. Bill Waters with the Richard Cardinal Cushing Award. The event will be held at Reliefs’ In, 1 Market St.
A week later on March 14 during the annual Irish luncheon John Cuddy will receive the Hon. John E. Fenton Award.
“We’re delighted that all three accepted. They are the representation of three great men,” said Hibernian president William Sullivan.
Established in 1964, the Irishman of the Year Award is the highest award bestowed on a local Hibernian.
“I was so surprised,” said Jacobs upon learning about the award. “I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe it’s true.”
Jacobs has been a member of Division 8 since the 1990s. He is the Superintendent Director of St. Mary-Immaculate Conception Cemetery, where he has worked for nearly 40 years.
“I am thrilled about being named Irishman of the year,” Jacobs said. “You get inspired by the people, so you follow their example, not looking for recognition. It makes you feel better to help other people.”
The recognition reminds him of the last scene from the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” when Clarence writes in his book, “No man is a failure who has friends.
“That’s what it means to me,” he said.
Born and raised in Lawrence, Jacobs is an active member of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus; a member of the Massachusetts Cemetery Association, where he served as president; as well as the New England and the National Cemetery Associations.
Waters, serves in Campus Ministry at Merrimack College, will accept the accolade named after the Irish cardinal who served the Archdiocese of Boston for nearly 50 years.
“Father Bill emulates the character of Cardinal Cushing,” Sullivan said. “He does a lot of work with the people.”
In addition to Merrimack College, Waters has served as pastor at the former St. Augustine’s Parish on Tower Hill. He was also the spiritual leader of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lawrence and Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Lawrence/Methuen.
A priest with the Order of St. Augustine, Waters is Chaplain to Division 8 in Lawrence, the Hibernian Essex County Boards and Hibernian Massachusetts State Boards.
“I was surprised and feel very honored to receive an award named after the cardinal who was such a significant person in the church of Boston,” he said.
He is also proud to receive the award because Cardinal Cushing was influential in the founding of Merrimack College, which is run by the Augustinians.
“The Irish immigrants have had a tremendous influence in Lawrence, and I appreciate Lawrence as the Immigrant City who welcomed the Irish and now other groups, and I’m very grateful for that,” Waters said.
Cuddy will receive the Hon. Judge John E. Fenton Award, for his volunteerism in a wide range of community service projects, organizations and endeavors locally.
Cuddy served in the U.S. Navy for 16 years. He is involved in a myriad of clubs, including the Boy Scouts, the American Legion, the Knights of Columbus, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, St. Patrick Parish, South Lawrence East Little League and the Emmett Kelly Clowns.
“This is a citizenship award and John fits that description to a T,” said Jack Lahey, chairperson of the St. Patrick Day luncheon.
Upcoming events celebrating Irish Heritage and St. Patrick’s Day:
Flag raising ceremony, Saturday, 11 a.m., across from City Hall, 200 Common St.,
Opening reception of the exhibit, “The Rev. James T. O’Reilly and his Influence on Lawrence, Mass.,” Sunday, 2-4 p.m., Lawrence Heritage State Park, 1 Jackson St. Author Michael Quinlan speaks on his new book, “Irish Boston.”
St. Patrick’s Day Banquet and Dance, March 8, 6 to 11 p.m., Relief’s In, 1 Market St. It features a corned beef and cabbage dinner and dancing to the Jolly Tinkers. For tickets, contact Robert Gauthier at 978-686-2786.
Lecture on the Life and Times of the Rev. James T. O’Reilly, March 9, 2 p.m. at Lawrence Heritage State Park, 1 Jackson St. Teddie Gallagher, communications director for the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova speaks on the priest who served at St. Mary for 39 years.
Saint Patrick’s Day Luncheon, March 14, Relief’s In, 1 Market St. corned beef and cabbage luncheon and music by the Silver Spears Irish Show Band. Contact Jack Lahey for tickets at 603-898-7766.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 15. Starts at 1 p.m. at the corner of Amesbury and Essex streets.