Solas Awards honoree Father Dan J. Finn.

By Niamh Lynch

It’s just two weeks now until the IIIC’s Solas Awards Dinner will take place, and even the choice of venue for this year’s celebration – the JFK Presidential Library – is generating a buzz.

The Irish word ‘solas’ translates to “light” in English, and the awards are presented annually to individuals who have, in one way or another, been a beacon of light for the Irish and/or immigrant community in Boston.

Recipients are sometimes globally-known (i.e. former Irish president Mary McAleese, or former US president Bill Clinton). Other times, they hail from our own backyard; people who have been working quietly and steadily to bring positive change to the lives of their neighbors.

One such individual, and a man the IIIC is honored to recognize this year, is Fr. Dan Finn of St. Mark’s parish in Dorchester. For many of you reading this, Fr. Dan needs no introduction at all. He may well have baptized your baby, helped you along the path to citizenship, or counseled you when your undocumented status meant that you couldn’t travel home for a loved one’s funeral.

A Cork man, here in the US since the age of 18, Fr. Dan is passionately committed to helping immigrants whether their place of origin is Ireland, Vietnam, or Uganda. He was one of the founders of the Irish Pastoral Centre, an organization which continues to thrive and to be a vital resource for the Irish community.

In response to his outreach, the IIIC has for ten years partnered with St. Mark’s to offer a bi-monthly legal clinic, where Dorchester residents can come for free immigration and citizenship advice. Over 500 people have become American citizens through the program.

There is one vexing issue, however. Fr. Dan’s selflessness and disregard for his own material gain is such that people often don’t know how to thank him for the help that he has given them. This is one reason the IIIC has chosen to recognize him with a Solas Award on December 2.

As IIIC Executive Director Sr. Lena Deevy says, “The night will provide the Irish community an opportunity to thank and to honor a man who, with no fuss or ego, has been a pastor, advocate, mentor, inspiration and friend to so many people.”

Please come and join us in giving Fr. Dan the thanks and praise he so richly deserves.

For further details on the Solas Awards Dinner, seat purchases, and sponsorship opportunities, please call Mary Kerr at 617.695.1554 or e-mail mkerr@iiicenter.org.