History of the Easter Rising Mass
In 1970, Kit Nash brought the idea of commemorating the Easter Week Rising of 1916 forward to the Shamrock Club Board. His father had been a member of the Irish Republican Army that had rose up against the British forces stationed in Dublin. Kit suggested that an Easter Sunday Mass be celebrated to honor those who rose and were killed or captured, in order to bring forward an independent Irish State.
The first few years of the Mass were celebrated in the basement of St Rose of Lima Parish. St Rose's was a longtime Irish parish. The first years the attendance was about thirty to forty people.
The Mass moved to Marquette University High School's chapel for about a decade.
In later years, the Mass was celebrated at the Marquette University Union. Father Michael Maher, SJ, a Milwaukee native, was the celebrant for many years when he was teaching at Marquette. After the Mass, Kit and his wife, Josie, would open up their bar on Milwaukee's South Side, Nash's Irish Castle, for ham sandwiches and coffee.
By the 1990's, the Mass was outgrowing the MU Union chapel. When the Shamrock Club moved to their new home at the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center in 1996, the Mass was moved their, as well. Father Maher continued to celebrate the Mass each spring, even after moving to St Louis University and, later, Gonzaga University in Spokane.
Father Terry Brennan, SJ, has celebrated the Mass in most years since 2005.
The Mass was coordinated by Betty Reidy Mikush for most of the 1990's until 2011. For much of the late 1990's and early 2000's, Bob and Peg Hamill ran the after-Mass breakfast. Brian Witt took over the breakfast in 2005 and 2006, and Veronica Ceszynski ran it until 2014. Sue Dushek took over in 2015 and 2016, when it again reverted to Brian Witt.
In 2011, Brian Witt took over the coordinating duties of the Mass from Betty Mikush. Betty was the Eucharistic minister coordinator until 2013, when Maricolette Walsh took her place.
Attendance at the Mass has grown since 1970, from about 30 people to a top of 250. The average attendance is about 220 a year.
The Mass is not intended as being the primary Easter Mass for people. The Shamrock Club offers the Mass as an honoring of those brave Irishmen and Irishwomen who came forward Easter Week of 1916. It is a Mass of Commemoration and Reconciliation.