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.