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.