By Robert Somerville
One of the Irish Pastoral Centre’s longest running programs is the Irish prisoner visitation program. This program was initiated in the mid-90s by Fr. Ted Linehan, then chaplain at the IPC, to provide support to Irish individuals detained in New England’s prisons, and to those navigating the judicial system. In many cases, Irish individuals who find themselves in criminal proceedings lack the support of family and friends during both their court hearings, and time spent in prison. Imprisonment is a very isolating and intimidating experience, and having the physical and emotional support of a chaplain, social worker, volunteer or friend can be of significant benefit.
Over the course of the last twenty years, the Irish Pastoral Centre has assisted over 20 Irish men and women in long term incarceration throughout New England in its State and Federal prisons. Including those placed in short term detention, often undocumented immigrants picked up on Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers, the IPC has assisted countless numbers of imprisoned Irish immigrants. The program, initiated by Fr. Ted Linehan, has been led throughout the last twenty years by Sr. Veronica Dobson, Sr. Marguerite Kelly, Fr. Jimmy Kelly, Fr. John McCarthy, and now Fr. Dan Finn, however, the most important asset to the program are its dedicated volunteers, namely Denis Moynihan.
Denis Moynihan, a native of Dromtariffe in Co. Cork, has been an intrinsic part of the IPC’s prison visitation program since being encouraged to participate by his cousin, Fr. Ted Linehan in 1997. Since his first introduction to supporting Irish prisoners, Denis has been a constant fixture within the program, supporting multiple Irish individuals for the duration of their time in Boston area prisons. Over the course of his twenty years volunteering in the program, Denis has built meaningful relationships with Irish prisoners through time spent in visiting rooms, sharing news from home, liaising with family members, providing a supportive ear – by being a friend. Denis regrets the assumption that ‘everyone who is behind bars is a bad person’, stating that there are ‘some very good people behind prison walls’ if they are given them the time of day. Denis acknowledges the difficult circumstances under which he comes to build these relationships, but speaks of the importance of a single positive encounter on the life of someone in prison. Denis also supports Irish prisoners’ family members if they ever make trips to the U.S. to visit their loved one, helping them to settle in Boston and navigate the complicated visiting procedures in the area prisons.
Being imprisoned is a ‘tough position’, states Denis, even without being thousands of miles away from home, friends, and families. The support offered by Denis, and the IPC Prison Visitation Program, goes a small way in ameliorating some of the difficulty experienced by Irish prisoners. In our 30th year, Denis would like to see more people come on board with the IPC’s prison visitation program, as he feels it can change people’s lives for the better – rewarding both prisoner and volunteer. Of their relationships with Denis, Irish individuals in prison have described him ‘like family’; a compliment of the highest order for a man that has given so much to the IPC and to the Irish community in the Boston area, and a true testament to the effect of his relationships with imprisoned Irish men and women. Go raibh maith agat, Denis.
By Robert Somerville
Strength is often found in numbers, and this is most true in the context of responses to the immigrant experience here in the United States. In the 1980s and 1990s the situation for Irish immigrants in the U.S. was at crisis point, with legal immigration from Ireland essentially an impossibility and with most immigrants under the age of 30 being ‘out of status’, or undocumented. The task at hand was too great for responses in isolation, and this was understood not least by the Consulate of Ireland and its Consul General at the time, Brendan Scannell. The Irish Pastoral Centre was ultimately borne of the meeting of Brendan Scannell with community leaders, immigration reform advocates and members of the Archdiocese of Boston. One of the most important participants in these meetings was the Massachusetts Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and it’s State Board Chairman of Immigration, Jack Meehan.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) was founded in 1836 as a response to the threat faced by Catholic Churches, members of the clergy, and Irish immigrants from ‘American Nativists’. Since the organization’s inception it has been charged with a primary mission: to work on behalf of newly arrived immigrants from Ireland by providing friendship, advice and support. The support offered to Irish immigrants by the AOH has been wide ranging, including influential political and social activism and advocacy. In the political arena, the AOH utilised its wide ranging network to put pressure on legislators. An example of the importance of their support was demonstrated in the passage of the Donnelly (NP5) and Morrisson (AA1) Visa programs in 1989 alongside the Irish Immigration Reform Movement.
Jack Meehan, now National President Emeritus of the AOH in America, was instrumental in the beginnings of the Irish Pastoral Centre and he has maintained his support for Irish immigrants in America over the last 30 years. In his position as Massachusetts Board Chairman of Immigration, Jack spearheaded progressive change in respect of immigration and the immigrant experience and he continued to press the issue in his two terms as National President of the AOH in America. In 2011, Jack was awarded the ‘Golden Bridges’ award by the Irish Echo in Boston, recognising his more than thirty years advocating for the undocumented. Without the support of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and Jack Meehan, one of the IPC’s most important early programs might never have been realised.
In partnership with the AOH and Consul General Brendan Scannell, the IPC led a significant fundraising effort in 1989. This fundraising effort not only secured the short term future of the Centre, but also allowed for the implementation of a ‘hardship fund’. This hardship fund was significant for many Irish immigrants who found themselves and their families in difficulty. The fund was designed to meet an immediate short term financial need, such as rent, heating and electricity costs, and repatriation in the event of an emergency. The AOH received applications to the hardship fund, which were then referred to Sr. Veronica and the chaplains at the IPC for assistance. While there was no legal obligation to return the financial aid, applicants understood that in returning the assistance, where possible, would allow for the fund to go further and help more immigrant families in need.
The IPC Hardship Fund operated for a number of years, up until the mid 1990s, helping countless Irish immigrants in a very practical way. The assistance of the AOH in advancing and operating the fund, and also in founding the IPC, was instrumental, and without it many individual’s immigrant experience would not have been as successful. Jack Meehan extends his, and the AOH’s “sincere thanks to the dozens of groups and hundreds of individuals who could be counted on to extend the hand of friendship in so many ways to [their] efforts on behalf of the undocumented Irish community”. The IPC mirrors this thanks, and also expresses our gratitude to Jack Meehan and the Ancient Order of Hibernians for their continued support.
By Robert Somerville
While the Irish Pastoral Centre has many contributors to thank for the organization’s creation, few played as important a role in the process as Fr. John Ronaghan. Fr. John, whose family immigrated to Prince Edward Island from County Monaghan, was pastor at St. Mark’s parish in Dorchester when the need for an Irish center was first mooted. Fr. Ronaghan, now based at the Weymouth Collaborative of Immaculate Conception and St. Jerome, spoke recently of his time at the Irish Pastoral Centre.
Fr. Ronaghan was charged with assessing the need within the Irish community by the Archdiocese of Boston and the late Cardinal Law. Fr. John employed an unusual form of outreach: posting himself in the overwhelming number of Irish bars in Boston. Fr. John recalled recently, how he would meet many of the young Irish in one of Dot Ave’s twenty (plus) Irish pubs after Mass on a given Sunday. It was here that the young Irish felt most comfortable conversing and confiding. Many of the young Irish were without status, and didn’t feel safe, or welcome necessarily, congregating in traditional forums, such as Boston’s parishes.
Fr. John realized that a formal Irish support structure was required following a request from a young Irish woman to celebrate a mass in her home for her mother, who was unwell at home in Ireland. Expecting a handful of close friends and family members, Fr. John was overwhelmed when he found the house was filled to the brim with young Irish immigrants. The parishes in Dorchester were overwhelmed by the rise in immigrant parishioners in the 1980s, and the Diocese responded by creating ‘ethnic ministries’ to cope with the ethnic and cultural needs of these communities. With the support of the Archdiocese and the Consul General of Ireland, Fr. John was appointed Director of Irish Pastoral services for the Archdiocese of Boston.
The formation of the Irish Pastoral Centre followed shortly thereafter, and it was, according to Fr. John, a powerful ‘statement made by the Archdiocese’ in that these young Irish immigrants were ‘welcome here in the city of Boston’. In speaking with Fr. John recently, it was discovered that the mission of the Irish Pastoral Centre in its inception was only a temporary one; five years long, to be more specific. Fr. John realized that the Irish Pastoral Centre was to be a permanent fixture in the Boston community when ‘suitcases would arrive at 20 Roseland Street before their owners’.
The young Irish immigrants of the 1980s ‘created a sense of enthusiasm and hope’ for the immigrant experience in Boston, according to Fr. Ronaghan. The new arrivals ‘integrated well into the community’, and there was ‘visible’ progress made in terms of overcoming challenges – these were the highlights of Fr. John’s experience of starting the IPC. The sense of togetherness, particularly following crisis in the event of a tragic death, was inspiring to many, not least Fr. Ronaghan.
The creation of the Irish Pastoral Centre was a success, according to Fr. Ronaghan, due to ‘the right people being in the right place at the right time’, but this fails to acknowledge Fr. Ronaghan’s own dedication to the IPC’s creation and its cause. Without Fr. Ronaghan’s contribution, the Irish Pastoral Centre could not have materialized and served the multiple thousands of community members it has over the last thirty years.
By Robert Somerville
Immigrants to new pastures experience a range of adjustments, some more challenging than others. Immigration often brings great positive change in individuals’ lives, but this is rarely without navigating periods of difficulty directly associated with the experience of being an immigrant. One of the most difficult adjustments for migrants to make is in terms of the availability of a social network. In emigrating, people leave established networks at home and experience great isolation in arriving in new cities and countries on their own.
In the 1990s in Boston, the Irish Pastoral Centre sought to combat some of this social isolation by helping the immigrant community to establish a supportive network. Sr. Veronica, Fr. Finn and the IPC Chaplains, Fathers Burns and O’Donnell, began to organize a series of social ‘drop in’ evenings – an environment in which young immigrants could come together to socialize, play music and games, dance, and tell stories and news of home. The social evenings were designed to meet the need for a safe space for immigrants to meet that wasn’t a local pub or social club. Every Friday evening in Brighton in the early 90s, and later in Quincy, hordes of young immigrants would gather at the Irish Pastoral Centre between 7:00 PM and 11:00 PM in an environment which promoted conversation and healthy social exchange.
Through these social evenings many friendships were fostered, and partnerships formed. Liam Canniffe, Consul General to Ireland in the early 90s, spoke of the importance of the IPC social evenings in 1992, saying “even Americans who move from one city to another need time and support to adjust” and that for many young Irish immigrants from rural areas in Ireland “being left totally alone can be quite devastating”. The IPC ‘drop in’ evenings assisted the Consulate in helping meet the demands of the Irish immigrant community by reducing the presence of culture shock through socialization. The evenings supported the development of community, and as a result the young Immigrants came together to take collective action around common problems they were experiencing. The IPC, as a grassroots organization, was delighted to see young immigrants helping one another, as many new arrivals needed the support of their peers more than the formality found in structured social services like the Pastoral Centre.
Recognizing the importance of this collective action, ownership of the IPC ‘drop in’ evening was given to a ‘steering committee’ made up of participants and IPC volunteers including Cait and Tess Cotter, Helen Coyne, Kathleen O’ Donoghue, Margaret-Ann and Hillary Grant, Kathy Gilligan, Maureen Griffin, Adrian Hanley, Eileen Moran, Paraig McGailey, Eamonn Nash, and Veronica Quinn. This steering committee ensured that the ‘drop in’ evening was maintained as an informal meeting, where the spirit of openness and a warm welcome to all was consistently maintained.
Events like the Irish Pastoral Centre’s ‘drop in’ nights fostered friendships, partnerships and marriages that have lasted to this day. In the current age of technology, where social networking has been largely reduced to online encounters, many individuals are more isolated than ever. The IPC strives to maintain this warm, open welcome to all to help reduce some of the isolation experienced by so many, and we hope that the immigrant community in Boston strives for the same. We encourage all readers to reach out to their friends and acquaintances, to call or ‘drop in’ to see how they are doing. As ever, the IPC is available to all who feel they are in need of a chat or a visit – please call 617-265-5300 if you, or somebody you know is in need of a listening and supportive ear.
By Robert Somerville
By Robert Somerville
Following from the success of the Irish Pastoral Centre’s educational program which took shape in 1989, Sr. Veronica noticed the desire of young Irish immigrants to further progress in their education. The IPC’s GED classes, which were led by Kathleen Sullivan, Mary Beth McDonagh and Mary Donohue, were largely designed to assist the new Irish in attaining a ‘Leaving Certificate’ or high school diploma so that they would be in a more favorable position when applying for jobs. The GED qualification, however, also allowed for these young immigrants to apply to University for the first time.
The aspiration of Irish immigrants has always been to succeed in the place that they call home and to make meaningful contributions to their communities through their professional and personal lives. The droves of immigrants who left Ireland during various periods of recession and deprivation sought opportunity abroad which allowed them to build a better life for themselves and their families. As a result, a GED qualification was only a first step for many new arrivals. Access to third level education in the United States is severely restricted, and it is an opportunity which is unfortunately reserved for the few. Sr. Veronica observed the aspirations of those who had completed their GED, and set out to remove some of the barriers which prevented them from accessing higher education.
A formal link between the IPC and a local college became a reality with the assistance of Fr. Bartley MacPhaidin between 1991 and 1993. Fr. MacPhaidin, a native of Donegal, became the first Irish born president of an American University in 1997 when he was appointed the 8th president of Stonehill College. Fr. Bartley arrived from Ireland in 1954 to study philosophy at Stonehill, after meeting a number of Holy Cross fathers in Dublin who convinced him to come and study in Massachusetts. Fr. Bartley went on to study further in Rome in Copenhagen before returning to Stonehill to teach religious studies in 1966.
Sr. Veronica and Fr. Bartley made an arrangement that provided entry level tuition to new immigrants via the Irish Pastoral Centre’s evening study site at the Sacred Heart in Quincy. This opportunity then led to a path to eventual study at Stonehill College, where immigrants could complete their Bachelor’s degree. The tuition provided by Stonehill at the IPC sites would provide the students with credits which they could use in their Bachelor’s program at Stonehill, if they so wished. Fr. Bartley, as a passionate Irish man and fluent Irish speaker, had previously been involved in the development of an in-house Irish program at Stonehill in the 1970s, which allowed for students to study abroad in Ireland at UCD, and invited Irish professors and guests to deliver lectures at Stonehill.
The link with Stonehill was a huge addition to the resources available to young immigrants, and many IPC participants went on to study at Stonehill, and other American colleges. Maisie McCann, a young Irish immigrant from Cavan, was a testament to the success of the IPC’s educational initiatives when she qualified as a nurse after graduating both from the IPC’s classes and Stonehill College.
When asked by a journalist, from the Boston Irish Reporter in 1991, what advice he could give to new young Irish immigrants, Fr. MacPhaidin stated the importance of education as ‘the key to the future’ in an ‘education-intensive’ country. With thanks to Fr. Mac Phaidin, Sr. Veronica, and countless Boston teachers and professors, young Irish immigrants were given the opportunity to access this key and, as a result, a more prosperous future in the United States.
Fr. MacPhaidin is still fondly remembered by the IPC and the immigrant community a year following his death on March 17th 2016 – RIP.
One of the most important services that the Irish Pastoral Centre has provided in the community throughout the last 30 years is employment assistance. It has been a constant need within the community, and even still as young Irish immigrants arrive to spend summers, 12 months stints, or longer, the IPC acts as a first port-of-call in their search for work. In the late 80s and early 90s, Sr. Veronica attended to almost 30 young Irish immigrants daily in their search for employment. Sr. Veronica almost always successfully utilized the immigrant network within the community to find work for new arrivals largely in the healthcare, construction and hospitality sectors.
Many of the young Irish who emigrated from Ireland in the 80s and 90s were very highly educated, but as a result of recession were unable to find work within their expertise or trade. This issue wasn’t unique to Ireland however, and many highly skilled immigrants struggled to find the work they truly desired in Boston. Tom Flatley, an Irish immigrant from Mayo who became one of Boston’s most successful business men, observed this and set out to find a solution in1993. Mr. Flatley was renowned for his generosity through his philanthropy, and was most supportive of the immigrant community and the work of the Irish Pastoral Centre.
Noticing that so many immigrants weren’t working in jobs comparable with their level of education, Tom Flatley decided to sponsor a Boston Irish Job Fair that was designed to help young people network for jobs and access career planning advice to advance their positions. To help realize the job fair, Mr. Flatley enlisted the support of the Irish Pastoral Centre, and the newly formed Irish Immigration Center. Sr. Veronica assisted in the organization and coordination, notably encouraging links between the fair and several local colleges and universities, including Stonehill College.
The first Boston Irish Job Fair was held at the John Hancock Hall and Conference Center on May 22nd 1993. The fair was attended by almost 1000 young people in search of further education and new connections. More than two dozen employers and colleges attended to assist those in search of work get a ‘leg-up’. Some of the organizations that were supportive of the efforts of Mr. Flatley and the IPC included Liberty Mutual, Filenes, Otrion Co., Biomed and the Carney Hospital. The fair was considered a great success, with hundreds of young immigrants making important links and a stronger network which bettered their careers.
The availability of a network is hugely important to the successful transition to life in a foreign country for any immigrant, and it is one of the things that new arrivals struggle with most. Significant community efforts, like the Boston Irish Job Fair, and the regular employment consultations that the Irish Pastoral Centre continues to provide, go some way in helping new immigrants adjust to life in Boston. It has often been said that Ireland’s best exports are its people, and this is especially true when each individual’s potential is tapped in to so that they can make meaningful contributions through their work and in their community.
The Irish Pastoral Centre has always been guided by the mission that solidarity and partnership utilized in the face of hardship, and the bonds of community are rooted in the very best of what it means to be Irish. The Irish, Irish-American, and wider migrant community in Boston continues to be a strong and supportive one, where this mission of solidarity and partnership is embraced. It has been through the power of this community that much positive change has been affected in the last 30 years of the work of the Irish Pastoral Centre.
In the 1990’s, the many Irish and other immigrants who received assistance from the Irish Pastoral Centre led various outreach initiatives through which they could give back to communities in greater Boston. Sr. Veronica described the waves of Irish immigrants at the time as being ‘in great spirit’, stating that there was a palpable energy, and a desire to use this energy to do positive things for their community.
The annual Lemuel Shattuck Shelter cook-out was one of these important community led outreach initiatives. Each July, members of the Irish community would come together to spend a day with the homeless community, sharing a meal together, and enjoying a sing-song and a dance. Sr. Veronica recalls that all it would take would be for one volunteer to ‘round up the others’, and there would be a full-house of eager volunteers ready to assist at the cook-out.
Regular volunteers at the Shattuck Shelter for the Homeless included Cait O’Donoghue, Cait Cotter, Veronica Quinn, James Dolan, Pat Coneely, Maureen Griffin, Barbara and Courtney Murray, Mary Corrigan, and Martin and Mary Carr. The food for the 250 guests was always generously donated by various shops and restaurants such as Lambert’s, the Brighton Stockmarket, Lynch’s Convenience, Flanagan’s Supermarket and Gerard’s in Adam’s Village.
Another community led outreach project was the IPC’s involvement with a home for vulnerable Mothers and their Babies, ‘Bridge over Troubled Waters’. This project enlisted a group of young Irish immigrants to assist at the home, taking care of the children so that the Mothers regularly had time to themselves for some much needed respite.
The Irish community has not only been generous with their time, indicated by various successful fundraising drives that have been coordinated throughout the years. One of the first coordinated fundraising drives took place in 1993, when over $3000 was raised to help relieve Somali families experiencing starvation. Paddy Dalton was one of the key members of the outreach project that helped raise this money through canvassing in bars and restaurants around the city of Boston, encouraging patrons to donate the price of a pint to the cause. Throughout the years since there has been regular canvassing for Irish aid charities, such as GOAL and Trocaire.
These initiatives are the tip of the iceberg in terms of the involvement of immigrants of all walks in supporting communities close to home and much further afield. In 2017, 30 years since the IPC opened its doors, the need for supportive partnerships in the community is greater than ever. The IPC-Boston aims to remain a fixture in the community, to help encourage this collective action and partnership which we hope will continue to challenge inequality and injustice in our society.
This week, we take a break from our linear exploration of the Irish Pastoral Centre’s history to speak with the legendary Kathleen Rohan, a departing member of the IPC’s staff who has made a huge impact within the Irish and Irish American communities in her almost 10 years with the Centre. Anyone who knows the Irish Pastoral Centre in its current form will be familiar with Kathleen, her good spirit, positive energy, and one-of-a-kind sense of humor.
Kathleen has been a constant fixture within the Irish community in Boston since her arrival from Cork in 1989, having been heavily involved with the GAA, the ILIR and, of course, the IPC throughout the intervening 18 years. Kathleen began volunteering regularly with the IPC-Boston in the 1990s, when members of her family became involved with the center’s Mother & Toddler playgroups. Appreciative of the work of the IPC within Boston, Kathleen volunteered as a way of ‘giving back’ to the community via the work of the Pastoral Centre. Kathleen took giving back to a new level in 2007, when she began working with the IPC as office manager.
Throughout her near 10 years with the IPC-Boston, Kathleen has fulfilled almost every role within the organization at one time or another, and occasionally all at once! In non-profit work, Kathleen says ‘You give it your all, and change your hat many times’, and while there have been challenging moments, she has enjoyed every day working with the Irish community. Kathleen says that ‘[she has] enjoyed the variety of work and people’ that she had the opportunity of meeting, and she will miss her interactions with members of the community the most.
Of the Irish and Irish American communities in Boston, Kathleen speaks of the importance of partnership and support, especially in times of hardship. This is one of the traits of the Irish American community that Kathleen admires most, the ability of people to come together to help one-another through any difficulty. Kathleen, like many, has been on the receiving end of this community support, and for this she is eternally grateful.
During the last 10 years at the Irish Pastoral Centre, Kathleen has been one of the few constants. In her time she has seen many faces come and go - most recently Fr. Finn, who Kathleen feels fortunate to have seen ‘come full circle’ in returning to work with the migrant community via the IPC-Boston. Kathleen will miss her colleagues, and thanks them for their support and friendship over the years, particularly Sr. Marguerite Kelly, Fr. John McCarthy and Kieran O’Sullivan.
When asked about highlights, Kathleen recalls the visits to the IPC-Boston by President Mary McAleese and Mickey Harte. These visits were inspiring for Kathleen personally and professionally, with Mickey Harte providing his wisdom of ‘family, friends, faith and football’, and President McAleese as a ‘progressive woman who changed with the times and needs’. The true highlight, however, was the interaction with the community on a daily basis through her work. The importance of the IPC-Boston, according to Kathleen, as a fixture in the heart of the Irish American community is significant in promoting a sense of togetherness that we need now more than ever.
On behalf of all the staff and volunteers of the Irish Pastoral Centre, and the countless members of the migrant community who have received assistance from Kathleen, Fr Dan. Finn would like to extend his thanks and appreciation to Kathleen. She will be sorely missed by the staff, volunteers and our service users, but we extend our warmest wishes to Kathleen as she moves on to the next chapter of her journey - Go n-éiri an bothar leat.
By Robert Somerville
There are few figures as important to the history of the Irish Pastoral Centre as Sr. Veronica Dobson. Sr. Veronica, a Brigidine Sister who hails from county Offaly in Ireland, is the IPC’s longest serving Director – spending 17 years immersed in the Boston Irish community. Sr. Veronica retired from her assignment with the IPC-Boston in 2004, returning to San Antonio, Texas, where she continues to work with immigrant and refugee groups. I spoke recently with Sr. Veronica, to reflect on her time with the IPC, and to hear some of her memories and stories of the center’s first 30 years.
When the call came for assistance with a new Irish outreach project, Sr. Veronica was in the midst of a sabbatical at the Weston School of Theology in Boston. Prior to this sabbatical, Sr. Veronica had spent twenty years on a teaching assignment in Wisconsin. When Sr. Veronica was asked to join this Irish outreach effort in Boston, there was no job description or office. Sr. Veronica had little knowledge of the nature of the assignment with the IPC, and what her work with the Irish community would entail, but she was most welcoming of the challenge and arrived permanently in the summer of 1988 to begin her stay with the IPC in Boston.
Sr. Veronica immersed herself in the Irish community from her first day based at St. Mark’s parish in Dorchester, always listening attentively for Irish accents. Within a month of her arrival, over 100 young Irish immigrants were assisted in their adjustment to life in the U.S. For the first number of years, Sr. Veronica was the only full-time member of staff assisted by dedicated volunteers. Mary Dianne Hayes offered pro bono legal assistance, and Ann Gargan, a cousin of the Kennedy family, helped with the administration of the tiny office at St. Mark’s parish. Sr. Veronica recalled that at the opening of the IPC office at St. Mark’s, there was room ‘only for [herself] and the Cardinal’! This office was visited by up to 30 young Irish immigrants daily in the first years of the IPC, and the lack of space didn’t detract from the dedication to working with the Irish and Irish American community.
Sr. Veronica speaks fondly of the sense of community between the Irish immigrants in Boston at the time, and the commitment to giving back to both the organization and the city ‘in good spirit’. There were many volunteer led efforts in the 1980’s and 90’s including an annual cookout for the homeless, a mother’s support group and regular fundraising for Trocaire, an Irish ‘international aid’ charity. Important to these efforts were Cait Cotter, Caroline Sullivan and Mark Mathers, to name a few. According to Sr. Veronica, without this support, and the ability of members of the Irish community to ‘round up the others’, the IPC-Boston couldn’t have been as effective as it was in serving the immigrant community.
Over the 17 years she spent in Boston, Sr. Veronica experienced great highs and lows. The best moments for Sr. Veronica were those in which she ‘helped people get on with their lives’ by assisting them through difficulties they might have been experiencing. In Sister Veronica’s time with the IPC, some Irish sadly returned home in coffins as a result of ill-health or, in some cases, suicide and these were the times that she, and the community, found most difficult. ‘No matter how hard things [get], there is always hope’ – that was the message that Sr. Veronica tried to share with the immigrant community in Boston, and it is a message she continues to share today.
Sr. Veronica helped thousands of immigrants from all over the world in their adjustment to life in America, and of her 17 years working in Boston ‘[she] enjoyed every minute!’. Whether assisting with employment and housing, or providing emotional and spiritual support, Sr. Veronica guided people on their path to a greater future. This is what ‘kept [her] going’ throughout her time with the IPC-Boston, that there was always someone in need of support or guidance and this mission continues to guide the work Irish Pastoral Centre in our 30th year.