Irish Pastoral Centre–Welcoming New Immigrants For 25 Years
The loneliness and isolation of immigrants settling in a new country is a sorrowful tale that spans centuries. Luckily for the Irish, there was a welcoming place in Boston over the past 25 years - the Irish Pastoral Centre - that made the transition a littler easier.
When the IPC first opened its doors in 1987, thousands of young Irish were fleeing Ireland due to a faltering economy. Many of them came to Boston.
Fr. Dan Finn and Sr. Veronica Dobson were the co-founders, and operated the IPC out of St. Mark’s Parish in Dorchester and St. Columbkille Parish in Brighton, then settling in Quincy for nearly two years.
The Centre helped new immigrants get acclimated to America, advising them on immigration and citizenship issues, jobs, health care and housing. They advocated for immigrant rights and helped many individuals and families along the way. And they made sure everyone felt welcomed.
“Boston was blessed to have so many wonderful, hard working Irish immigrants come to our city in the 1980s and 1990s, recalls Ray Flynn, former Mayor of Boston and US Ambassador to the Vatican. “They felt right at home here and the Irish Pastoral Center played a big role.”
Practical help notwithstanding, the Centre’s raison d’etre has been to provide spiritual guidance to those who seek it. Staff members provide marriage and pre-marriage counseling, pre-wedding instruction, addiction prevention programs, support groups for new mothers, and companionship for senior citizens living alone.
Last September the Centre moved from Quincy to St. Brendan’s Parish in Dorchester. Chaplain Father John McCarthy and pastoral associate Sr. Marguerite Kelly work closely with Alicia Connors, the Centre’s new executive director, and the small staff, many of whom understand what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange land.
As part of its 25th anniversary, the Irish Pastoral Centre is holding a series of special events this year to celebrate its important work and to make sure that no immigrant gets left out in the cold.
A 501(c) 3 non profit organization, the Centre is also seeking donations to help keep its mission alive for future immigrants who may need a hand of friendship in their time of need.
by Michael P. Quinlin