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Greater Pittston Friendly Sons Of St. Patrick Hold Annual Dinner

March 18, 2018 GMT

PLAINS TWP. — Chris Zorich got two songs as part of his introduction at the Greater Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick dinner Saturday.

First was “Happy Birthday,” in honor of his 49th birthday on March 13. Then some of the Notre Dame fans in the crowd gave an improptu rendition of the fight song for the former defensive lineman.

Zorich was the guest speaker at the organization’s 104th annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner on Saturday at The Woodlands Inn and Resort.

The annual event is a chance to members to gather for food and fellowship and to recognize community members and hear from a guest speaker.

“It’s about family, about fathers, sons, uncles and nephews. And about honoring St. Patrick,” said James Jay Delaney, Wilkes-Barre fire chief.

Zorich spoke about growing up in Chicago with a single mother who didn’t want him to play football.

“I do not want my little baby getting hurt,” she told him. That was the message he had to deliver to the 300-pound coach who told him to get his mother to sign a permission slip so he could join the team.

The next year, he forged his mom’s signature so he could play. She didn’t like it, but he took to the sport. It was one of the first times in his life he had positive male role models, he said, and he was good enough to earn a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame and to play in the National Football League.

His time at the university changed him.

He remembers Coach Lou Holtz’s motto: WIN.

It didn’t simply mean “win.” It stood for “What’s Important Now?” If the team wanted to win a national championship, it had to first have a good practice. Then a good week of practice. Then win its first game. A focus on growth was essential.

In that environment, “I’m learning what it means to be around a great program,” Zorich said. “This is a whole new experience for me. I learned a ton.”

Besides recognizing Zorich, the organization honored several locals.

They included:

• Delaney, a longtime member of the organization and this year’s recipient of the W. Francis Swingle Award. He is also a former member of the board of commissioners in the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

• John Gilligan, former Wyoming Borough police chief and Luzerne County Sheriff, as its 2018 Man of the Year. Gilligan is a U.S. Air Force veteran, a member of the Knights of Columbus and a former president of the Greater Pittston Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.

• Michael T. Vough, a Luzerne County judge. Vough earned the organization’s achievement award. He is also a former assistant district attorney for the county.

• Brian Parise was the event’s general chairman. He is the principal of Selinsgrove Area High School.

• Brothers Joseph Long III and Jack Long were co-grand marshals of the ceremony. Joseph is a ninth grade student at Pittston Area High School, a black belt karate student and a baseball player with the Jenkins Twp. Little League. Jack is a seventh grader at Martin L. Mattei Middle School in Pittston Area, where he is a member of the student council. He is also a member of the Jenkins Twp. Little League and was the chairman of a coat drive organized by the Junior Members of the Pittston Friendly Sons. They are the sons of Jenny and Joe Long of Jenkins Twp.

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