Papal Foundation President Eustace Mita and Mission Fund Committee members Tricia Flatley and Jim Towey recently traveled to Balleyjamesduff County Cavan, Ireland, to visit the Tearmann Anama Center for Renewal construction project that was funded by the Foundation in December 2022 in remembrance of Thomas J. Flatley, Tricia’s legendary father.
Tom Flatley was born in Kiltimagh County Mayo, lived on the family farm in Treenkeel, and attended Holy Family Church. At age 17, and with $32 in his pockets, he emigrated to the United States where he worked in the Bronx before serving in the U.S. military and then settling in Boston. He went from building individual houses to building a huge development company that, by the time of his death in 2008, was the finest in the region.
Notwithstanding his formidable business success, Tom Flatley never forgot his humble roots and the faith formation and entrepreneurial advice from his mother that he received on the Emerald Isle. The Cairn International Trade Center in County Mayo that he founded is among the many philanthropic projects he quietly funded in his native land.
During their July visit, Tricia Flatley and her twin daughters, Beth and Megan, went on a sentimental journey to Treenkeel where they toured the museum that was built at the train platform where Tom Flatley departed in 1948. They also went to his childhood home and later prayed in Holy Family Church. “Going to these places gave us a deeper appreciation of how his faith and values were formed,” Tricia said. “He did so much in Boston for the Catholic Church, and it is wonderful that the Mission Fund and my family can now help with the rebirth of the Church in Ireland,” she said. “I can think of no better way to honor my dad.”
Mita, Flatley and Towey met with Kathryn Anne Clarke, President of Direction for Our Times (DFOT), the grant recipient; Father Darragh Connolly, DFOT’s Chaplain; as well as the architect and builder of the new Center for Renewal. Site preparations and demolition work already are underway on DFOT’s property, a former Norbertine abbey and boarding school for boys until a clerical abuse scandal there stunned the nation and prompted revelations of widespread abuse elsewhere. The new $6 million building will provide meeting, spiritual formation, and media facilities to help rebuild the Church in Ireland through DFOT’s faith formation activities, primarily through programs for the country’s youth.
A former Norbertine abbey and boarding school for boys will be demolished and the new Center for Renewal will be constructed on the site
An architecture briefing for the new Center for Renewal
Walking the site!
“Generations of Catholics in America have benefited greatly from the vast contribution of the Irish missionaries who built so many parishes and Church buildings across our nation,” Mita said. “It is wonderful to see the Papal Foundation returning the favor by helping the Church in Ireland get back on its feet and connect to its people again.”
Towey shared Mita’s excitement. “The Mission Fund exists because of Tom Flatley’s generosity,” he said. “I am sure his Irish eyes are smiling from Heaven on this Papal Foundation project in anticipation of the good it will do in the country he loved.”