Remembering Kate O’Beirne
Religion & Liberty Online

Remembering Kate O’Beirne

Longtime Acton Institute friend and supporter Kate O’Beirne passed away this past weekend. Below are Father Robert Sirico’s thoughts on this accomplished woman:

I feel like I have always known Kate O’Beirne, so the passing of this woman of keen intellect, sharp wit and fearless rhetoric in confronting the nostrums of our day leaves me feeling very, very sad. It is painfully sad to think that the occasions of sharing National Review cruises or panel discussions with her or having her MC several Acton Institute annual dinners will be no more.

Perhaps the most memorable of these occasions was when I invited Kate to MC the 20th Anniversary of the Institute. Part of her role was to introduce the person who would introduce me, namely my actor-brother Tony Sirico, most well known as “Paulie Walnuts” on the Sopranos. Their combo was a tour de force ornamented with the perfect cadence of classic New York accents all around (and this in Grand Rapids!). See Kate’s performance here:

Among the thoughts running through my mind when I first learned that Kate was dying was her preternatural graciousness. Perhaps it was her no-nonsense charm endeared her to me, making me feel like we grew up together. Kate’s style exhibited someone long comfortable in her own skin.

The difference between her Irish Catholic background my own working class Italian roots were not a gap, but a bridge, even an alliance, between us. Kate’s tongue and pen could be sharp, always intended not to injure an ideological opponent (at least not usually), but to prick intellectual holes in false arguments rendering the debate more focused than when it began. To disagree with Kate was to receive a lesson in personal class, wisdom, learning, character and humor.

The more I was in the presence of Kate’s approach, the more I admired her. In the end, Kate like one of her heroes was a Happy Warrior more interested in winning hearts and minds (not necessarily in that order) than in eviscerating the opposition. Our cause would be well-served by more exactly like her. RIP, Kate.

Rev. Robert Sirico

Rev. Robert A. Sirico received his Master of Divinity degree from the Catholic University of America, following undergraduate study at the University of Southern California and the University of London. During his studies and early ministry, he experienced a growing concern over the lack of training religious studies students receive in fundamental economic principles, leaving them poorly equipped to understand and address today's social problems. As a result of these concerns, Fr. Sirico co-founded the Acton Institute with Kris Alan Mauren in 1990. As president of the Acton Institute, Fr. Sirico lectures at colleges, universities, and business organizations throughout the U.S. and abroad. His writings on religious, political, economic, and social matters are published in a variety of journals, including: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the London Financial Times, the Washington Times, the Detroit News, and National Review. Fr. Sirico is often called upon by members of the broadcast media for statements regarding economics, civil rights, and issues of religious concern, and has provided commentary for CNN, ABC, the BBC, NPR, and CBS' 60 Minutes, among others. In April of 1999, Fr. Sirico was awarded an honorary doctorate in Christian Ethics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and in May of 2001, Universidad Francisco Marroquin awarded him an honorary doctorate in Social Sciences. He is a member of the prestigious Mont Pèlerin Society, the American Academy of Religion, and the Philadelphia Society, and is on the Board of Advisors of the Civic Institute in Prague. Father Sirico also served on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1994 to 1998. He is also currently serving on the pastoral staff of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fr. Sirico's pastoral ministry has included a chaplaincy to AIDS patients at the National Institute of Health and the recent founding of a new community, St. Philip Neri House in Grand Rapids, Michigan.