The Irish Apostolate USA is a collaborative effort of the Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants of the Irish Bishops’ Conference and the Bishops’ Committee on Migration of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The duty of caring for migrants falls on the host Bishop, however, in a spirit of communion as outlined in Erga Migrates Caritas Christi and for the better coordination of pastoral activity; it is ‘unthinkable’ that the Churches of arrival and departure would not collaborate with one another. (Paragraph 70)
The Irish Apostolate USA began in 1987 in the Archdioceses of Boston and New York. Traditionally two of the largest Irish communities in the United States, these communities were growing as many young Irish left for distant shores in search of work. Irish Chaplains followed these immigrants and have since cared for new arrivals. Traditionally, the vast majority of immigrants arriving from Ireland go to places where they have friends and acquaintances; cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia. However, now immigrants can be found in practically all of the 50 States.
In 1997 a National Director, Fr Timothy O’Sullivan, was appointed to assess and coordinate a response to the needs of recent Irish immigrants in the entire United States. He was followed by Rev. Colm Campbell in 2001. In 2005 the Irish Apostolate USA reorganized and established a presiding Board of Directors.
To aid IAUSA in its outreach, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops appointed an Episcopal liaison to assist in communication between Ireland and the U.S. The first Episcopal Liaison was Bishop Raymond Boland, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Kansas City/St.Joseph, Missouri, now deceased. Bishop Raymond Boland was a great advocate for the Irish immigrants in the United States during his tenure as Episcopal Liaison. For many years he was also involved in the Northern Ireland peace process. In 2005, Bishop J. Kevin Boland, Bishop Emeritus of Savannah – and brother to Bishop Raymond – became the Episcopal Liaison to the Irish Apostolate USA. In this capacity, Bishop Kevin Boland has met with the Irish chaplains to hear about the pastoral, social, and immigration needs of the Irish immigrants across the United States and offers guidance and support. Bishop John Kirby, Bishop of Clonfert diocese, is the current Episcopal counterpart in Ireland and chair of the Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants (IECE) Council.