The Buckley Connection

They met in a business class, fall semester, 1986. At least that’s what they know for sure. But most likely Mary Brosnan O’Hannigan ’88 and Joseph-Shannon O’Hannigan ’88 crossed paths more than once well before that.

The classmate and mutual friend who introduced them, Maria Maestas Gee ’88, was the first to figure it out. “Wait a minute,” she said, “You both grew up in Hawaii, and you don’t know each other?”

Over Christmas break, back home in Honolulu, Mary threw a party at her house and invited Joe. “What a nice group of kids,” her parents commented afterwards. “That Joe, though. The way he looked at you. He’s more than a friend.”

“Oh no, that’s just Joe,” Mary said. “He’s the nicest guy, but that’s it.”

By March, Mary and Joe were dating. Things moved quickly, and soon Mary called her parents with big news: “Wow, you guys were right. That guy, Joe? I’m gonna marry him.”

Looking back, they tried to find common threads. They’d gone to different Catholic high schools, but Mary was a cheerleader and Joe was in marching band, and sometimes their football teams played each other. So maybe.

And then Mary remembered the time her whole family went to a friend’s graduation — at Joe’s school. And some random kid’s name kept coming up for all the honors. Patrick Sean O’Hannigan. Patrick Sean O’Hannigan. Over and over.

“That was my brother,” Joe told her. So for sure they had that.

After college, Mary and Joe returned to the islands to launch their careers — Joe in business and Mary in education. The next summer, their favorite LMU professor, the late Thomas Buckley, S.J., who taught history, flew to Honolulu to officiate at their wedding.

In 1993, Joe and Mary welcomed baby Paul, who would one day follow their footsteps to LMU. As ever, Hawaii felt like home; they never thought they’d leave. But career opportunities beckoned from the Mainland, and the O’Hannigan clan embarked upon “a wild and crazy life.” Three more babies — Joe, Molly and Mark — and 14 moves in 28 years.

Yet they’ve kept circling back to familiar landmarks. In January, Joe became associate dean and director of LMU’s executive M.B.A. program. And recently, Paul O’Hannigan ’15 announced his engagement to Sierra Sands ’15, whom he met in a history class taught by Tom Buckley.

Editor’s Note: Thomas Buckley, S.J., retired professor of history who taught at LMU from 1973 until 1998 and again from 2012 until his retirement in 2017, died on No. v8, 2017. A remembrance of Father Buckley was published in the summer 2018 issue of LMU Magazine.