In Memoriam

This page is dedicated to former members who have sadly passed.

Archbishop Francis Schulte

Former Archbishop Francis Bible Schulte, who served as the 12th archbishop of New Orleans from 1988 to 2002, died Jan. 17 after several weeks in hospice care at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia suburb.

Archbishop Schulte, 89, passed away about 9 p.m., said Archbishop Gregory Aymond. Archbishop Schulte’s body will be received at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans on Jan. 27 at 3 p.m., followed by a wake from 3:30 to 8 p.m. A wake will be held at St. Louis Cathedral on Jan. 28 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., followed by a funeral Mass celebrated by Archbishop Aymond at 2 p.m. The public is invited to attend the services.

Archbishop Schulte will be buried in a crypt near the cathedral altar.

“I think he brought a real fidelity to church teaching,” Archbishop Aymond said of Archbishop Schulte, who was archbishop when Archbishop Aymond was named an auxiliary bishop of New Orleans in 1996 by St. John Paul.

“He also brought a sense of pastoral care,” Archbishop Aymond added. “He was very committed to Catholic education since he had been a superintendent in Philadelphia and knew a lot about it. He also helped to stabilize the finances in our archdiocese. He redid the structure of our administrative offices. That was something that was needed, and I thought he did it very well.”
Archbishop Schulte was born Dec. 23, 1926, in Philadelphia. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 10, 1952, and served from 1960-70 as assistant superintendent of Catholic schools in Philadelphia and then as superintendent from 1970-80.

He was ordained auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia in 1981 and was appointed bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia in 1985. He was named to succeed New Orleans Archbishop Philip M. Hannan as the 12th archbishop of New Orleans on Dec. 13, 1988.

A year after Archbishop Alfred Hughes was appointed coadjutor archbishop of New Orleans in 2001, Archbishop Schulte officially retired on Jan. 3, 2002.

“I don’t think there was a time in my life before ordination that I was not thinking of the priesthood,” Archbishop Schulte said in a 2002 interview with the Clarion Herald upon his 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood and retirement as archbishop. “From a young age, it was always there.”

Archbishop Schulte grew up in Philadelphia as an only child. His father, who ran the family pharmacy, died when Frank was only 11. His mother, Katharine Bible Schulte (named for Philadelphia heiress St. Katharine Drexel, who founded Xavier University of Louisiana) imbued in him a love for the church.

His great uncle and uncle, both named Augustine, were diocesan priests in Philadelphia.

“They used to call them Old Gus and Young Gus,” Archbishop Schulte said. “My great uncle was rector of the North American College in Rome for two years and then came back to teach at St. Charles Seminary, my alma mater, for 53 years.

“My Uncle, Young Gus, was a great parish priest and an avid hunter. In the 1920s when the KKK was strong in that area, they burned a cross on church property. As the story goes, he took out his gun and shot it out the window of the rectory. That was the end of the cross burning.”

Archbishop Schulte often used a construction analogy to describe the influence of the local Catholic Church on the wider community: there are “four pillars” – representing Catholic schools, Catholic Charities, the Social Apostolate and Christopher Homes – that support the fabric of the community.

“I wanted to make all of us aware of the great contribution the church has made through these four pillars of social infrastructure. The greatest contribution of the archdiocese is to the religious and moral fiber of our community. These efforts of the church go all the way back to 1727, and each one has developed over the years.”

Archbishop Schulte said one of the highlights of his tenure in New Orleans was announcing to Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square the virtues of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, who was beatified in 2000.

Archbishop Hughes said Archbishop Schulte’s biggest contributions to the Archdiocese of New Orleans was “to bring an organizational structure to the archdiocese. He was very consultative, and he introduced consultative bodies as genuine consultative bodies. He developed the cabinet structure. That basic structure I inherited and did very little tweaking of it.

“Archbishop Schulte also was truly committed to Catholic education, especially Catholic school education. That was a significant investment of his priestly life and ministry when he was in Philadelphia, and he brought an appreciation for that to New Orleans and did everything that he could to strengthen the schools.”

In his retirement, Archbishop Schulte remained in New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and doctors encouraged him to return to Philadelphia for successful radiation treatment.

However, in 2006, Archbishop Schulte had three falls within a short time frame, and doctors insisted that he be sent to an assisted living facility, Villa St. Joseph, which was home to retired priests.
His last visit to New Orleans was for the 2009 installation of Archbishop Aymond, at which time a historic photo was taken of the four living archbishops of New Orleans: Archbishops Hannan, Schulte, Hughes and Aymond.

Brother Frank Wills


By now, you have heard the sad news of the untimely passing of Brother Frank Wills.

All Hibernians who are able to attend are asked to be be at St. Henry's Church, 812 General Pershing Street (one block off Magazine Street and Napoleon Avenue), at 10:30 a.m. on Friday morning, May 18. Coat and tie and AOH armband and lapel pin are required.

The solemn Ritual of the Hibernian Funeral will be said over Brother Wills' casket and one of our Pipers, Brother Terry Cooney, will salute our Brother and commend him to the Almighty.

Obviously this comes in the middle of the work day for many of you, so we appreciate those of you who are able to make the time to attend. Let us all join in a prayer of thanksgiving for the life of Brother Wills and a prayer to ease the sorrow of his sorrow if his family.

Yours in Christian Charity,

John D. Fitzmorris III
President - Orleans Parish Division 1
Archbishop Hannan Division

Brother Joseph J. Cronin, Snr.


The AOH is sad to announce the passing of Brother Jospeh J. Cronin Sr. Brother Cronin was a member of the James Cardinal Gibbons Division of the AOH in Jefferson Parish and was named Irishman of the Year for 2010.
A retired longshoreman and veteran of the New Orleans Police Department, Mr. Cronin was born in New Orleans in 1924, the son of the late Michael R. Cronin and Alice McMullen Cronin. A native of the Irish Channel, Cronin attended Redemptorist School and is a 1943 graduate of St. Aloysius High School where he was named second team All-Prep as a member of the football team. Cronin then went on to serve during the Second World War for the United States Navy Seabees from 1943-46.

Upon his return from the war, Cronin joined the Clerks Local Longshoreman’s Union Number 1497 and then graduated from the New Orleans Police Academy in 1946 where he served both as a patrolman and as a special member of the Federal Narcotics Enforcement taskforce. Upon his retirement from the Police Department, he has continued to serve on the board of the Police Federal Credit Union. Cronin is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6640 and American Legion Post 267. He was a parishioner at St. Benilde Church in Metairie. Brother Cronin was married to the late Hilda Conzonire Cronin from 1942 to 1960 and had been married to the former Judy Whitney since 1963. He is survived by six children, twelve grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

The Most Reverend Philip M. Hannan


The Ancient Order of Hibernians in Louisiana bids an emotional but thankful farewell to The Most Reverend Philip M. Hannan, the former Archbishop of New Orleans. Hannan, the namesake of Division 1 in Orleans Parish, served as eleventh Archbishop of New Orleans from September 29, 1965 to December 6, 1988.

A native of Washington, D.C., Hannan studied at Catholic University and later at the North American College in Rome, where he witnessed the rise of fascism in both Italy and Germany. After his ordination in 1939, he served as a priest in the Archdiocese of Washington until the outbreak of the Second World War. He then served his country as a member of the United States Army Chaplain Corps. Assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, Hannan participated in numerous airborne operations, including Operation Market-Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. He returned home and later was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop, where he became a close confidante of the Kennedy family and delivered the sermon at President Kennedy's funeral Mass.

When Hannan arrived in New Orleans in 1965, Hurricane Betsy had just ravaged New Orleans, and the Archbishop made his impact immediately felt by riding in a boat throughout the flooded Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish and offering comfort to all those afflicted. Hannan also displayed the true Irish spirit of inclusion and diversity by continuing the desegregation of Catholic Schools during the height of the Civil Rights Era. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, he personally arranged for the emigration of thousand of Catholic South Vietnamese refugees, who settled in New Orleans and quickly became an active and integral part of the community. His frequent outreach out to Catholics and non-Catholics alike made him one of the most popular figures in New Orleans, and non-Catholics throughout the New Orleans Area frequently referred to him as “their Archbishop” and were profuse in their praise.

The crowning achievement of Archbishop Hannan’s episcopate was the three-day visit of Pope John Paul II to New Orleans in 1987. He retired as Archbishop in 1988, but remained active in ministry, especially at his beloved WLAE-TV and FOCUS Television Syndicate. Finally, Hannan—long a supporter of the New Orleans Saints NFL franchise and who often led the invocation for the team—was present when the Saints at long last hoisted the Lombardi Trophy upon winning the Super Bowl in 2010.

Archbishop Hannan passed away on September 29, 2011, at the age of ninety-eight and the forty-sixth anniversary of his consecration as Archbishop. Current New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond (himself ordained by Hannan) set aside several days to honor Hannan. The Ancient Order of Hibernians mustered on Monday, October 3 to receive the casket carrying Archbishop Hannan’s remains. With the bagpipes playing “The Minstrel Boy” and appropriate spiritual tunes, the Hibernians stood at attention as their beloved leader and friend was carried into the Oratory of Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. After three days of visitation at Notre Dame Seminary, where an estimated 50,000 people passed by to view the Archbishop, Hannan’s casket was transferred in a procession from Notre Dame to the St. Louis Cathedral.

For the procession, Archbishop Aymond arranged a special, five-mile parade along which more than 7,000 New Orleans Area Catholic school students (all of whom were born after Archbishop Hannan was well into retirement) stood quietly as Hannan’s casket passed by in a special horse drawn carriage. The Hibernians, bearing the AOH and Archbishop Hannan Division banners, stood beside the Vietnamese-American Community from Mary Queen of Vietnam Parish as the casket was placed in the black carriage. Leading the procession was the famous St. Augustine High School “Marching 100” Band (another testament to Hannan’s spirit of inclusion and diversity) followed by the Archbishop, Bishops, members of the clergy, and seminarians. Members of Catholic Charities of New Orleans followed the clergy; and last, but certainly not least, came the Hibernians. In three silent rows, led by their banner bearers, the Hibernians marched solemnly but proudly in honor of their deceased Brother and Archbishop who always embraced his Irish heritage.

At the conclusion of the five and a half mile route, the Hibernians marched slowly into Jackson Square to the front of the St. Louis Cathedral where several thousand adults and Catholic school students stood silently as the piper played “The Minstrel Boy” and “Danny Boy,” which was the Archbishop’s favorite Irish tune. Hannan’s casket was brought into the Cathedral, and again the Hibernians marched silently inside to pay their last respects. Upon conclusion of the processional ceremony, Archbishop Aymond, as well as former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Lindy Boggs and members of Hannan’s family thanked the Hibernians for adding such dignity and grace to the ceremony and helping people understand the great faith and spirit of the Irish as evidenced by the life of Archbishop Hannan.

For our part, the Hibernians were both honored and humbled to have played even a small part in offering a fitting tribute to such an esteemed friend and leader. One Hibernian remarked that while the events were certainly emotional, they were not occasions for sadness but thanksgiving. “Anyone like our Archbishop, who lived such a full and complete ninety-eight years,” he said, “merits thanksgiving rather than sadness. I mourn the loss of a friend and mentor, but I celebrate a great life lived in the spirit.” The Ancient Order of Hibernians shares that sentiment and wish eternal rest and perpetual light upon a man who truly “uncovered the light of his Irish spirit” for all to see.