On Sunday, February 1, 2015, the Maine Irish Heritage Center (MIHC) and Saint Joseph’s College announced a partnership between the two institutions to explore areas of mutual interest and concern over the course of a two-year term. The partnership was announced at the second annual Karen Lemke Memorial Lecture at MIHC, a lecture series honoring the late Karen Lemke, a former professor of education at Saint Joseph’s College.

“We are thrilled to have these two institutions working together for the benefit of the community and for those who participate in the organizations,” said Michael Pardales, Saint Joseph’s chief learning officer, at Sunday’s announcement.

Signed by the Maine Irish Heritage Center’s board chair, Mary McAleney, and Saint Joseph’s President Jim Dlugos, the memorandum of understanding recognizes the institutions’ commitment to educational excellence and community programming. Over the course of the two years, representatives from the organizations will leverage their shared values of collaboration, commitment to the people of Maine, strengths, and assets for continued growth and development of community-enriching activities. For the spring of 2015, projects include:

—the cooperative development of MIHC’s library, supported by Saint Joseph’s Wellehan Library director, Shelly Davis;

—a community-based learning project, coordinated by Kimberly Post, Saint Joseph’s community-based learning director, with professor Bill Yates’ Community Learning Practicum students and MIHC staff analyzing and subsequently fulfilling internal and external communications needs;

—the continuation of the annual Karen Lemke Memorial Lecture Series, to be hosted at MIHC;

—a 150th-anniversary celebration of the Sister of Mercy’s presence in Maine, organized by the College’s Chief Mission Officer Sister Kathleen Sullivan, RSM, in conjunction with MIHC;

—an ongoing collaboration between Saint Joseph’s professor Michael Connolly, MIHC, and the College’s communications department on a documentary film chronicling, in part, Governor Brennan’s decision to choose Senator George Mitchell to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the appointment of Maine’s Senator Edmund Muskie to serve as secretary of state for the last year of Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

The partnership, said MIHC’s Mary McAleney, follows years of collaboration between the two organizations and was the result of the tireless efforts of Michael Connolly.

“This collaboration and formal partnership with Saint Joseph’s College provides an opportunity for students to study and research the impact of the Irish on the state of Maine,” said McAleney. “More than 17 percent of Mainers trace their roots to the Emerald Isle. People of Irish heritage have left an impact on every corner of our state and are making a difference in every facet of our economy on a daily basis. The students’ work will help us and the community understand the impact made by this early immigrant group.”

“Partnering with the Maine Irish Heritage Center provides many culturally enriching opportunities for members of our communities and beyond,” said President Dlugos. “Our shared interest in history, education, and advancement make this is a truly positive opportunity. I am proud that this formal collaboration has arrived.”

The Maine Irish Heritage Center’s mission is to protect, preserve, and restore the historic landmark that was formerly Saint Dominic’s Church, a hub of the early Irish community in Maine; provide a center for Maine’s diverse communities to share their cultural experience through education, programs, and community events; and house Maine’s Irish Genealogical Center, museum, archives, and library, preserving the story of Irish history in Maine. For more information about MIHC, visit www.maineirish.com.