The Irish International Immigrant Center was founded by a handful of volunteers over two decades ago to help Boston’s newest waves of Irish immigrants. Over 150 years ago, the St. Mark the Evangelist Roman Catholic Parish was established to serve the large number of Irish immigrants in central Dorchester. And, over the past ten years, the IIIC and St. Mark’s Parish have worked together to serve the diverse groups of immigrants who now live in central Dorchester and the surrounding communities.

In the 1990s, volunteers at St. Mark’s started an ESOL class which attracted a wide range of Vietnamese, Cape Verdean, Haitian, Latino, and African students. They then started a voter registration drive, only to find out that many immigrants had yet to become citizens. At that stage, the relationship with the IIIC was initiated. The IIIC provides a bimonthly legal clinic at St. Mark’s Parish where immigrants can come and get free help with a range of immigration and citizenship issues.

Presently, St. Mark’s Community Education Program, a not-for-profit initiative, runs a citizenship class and three levels of ESOL classes in the evenings and weekends, to accommodate schedules for working adult immigrants. Classes help provide immigrants with the literacy skills, knowledge of U.S. civics and history, and speaking skills necessary to pass their citizenship tests.

The IIIC supports these students by facilitating application workshops, which ensure that applications are accurate and complete. As a result, more than 500 immigrants and their families have achieved citizenship and the rights and opportunities which come with being an American over the past ten years.

The IIIC highly respects the good work of St. Mark’s parish and looks forward to further developing our friendship and partnership.