July 16, 2015 It’s in Queens
The New York Irish Center will screen a documentary on its founder, Father Colm Campbell, and a booze-heavy comedy during a special movie night on Saturday.
In the 1990s, western Queens absorbed a large wave of immigrants from Ireland. Most of them had four things in common: they were undocumented; they were young; they had problems adjusting to their new surroundings; and they sought help from Father Campbell.
Born in Belfast in 1935, Father Campbell grew up during a troubled time in Northern Ireland, when religious strife, civil war, and terrorist bombings were raging. In 1992, he relocated to New York City to work as a chaplain for the Diocese of Brooklyn, under the auspices of the Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants.
Based at St. Teresa’s Church in Woodside, Father Campbell quickly noted the isolation that hundreds of newcomers felt and determined that they needed a place to congregate with others in similar situations to quench their desire for support, community, and culture. On the advice of a friend and with financial backing from various business leaders, Father Campbell bought property in Long Island City in 2003.
A tremendous volunteer effort followed — especially from Irish immigrants in the building trades — and the fully renovated, 10,000-square-foot, four-floor New York Irish Center opened at the site two years later.
Father Campbell died this past June 9 at age 79. The Irish Center will honor his legacy by showing a 20-minute documentary on his life, The Emigrant Chaplain by Radharc Films, on Saturday night.
Grabbers will also screen. In this zany comedy, blood-sucking extraterrestrial creatures attack a small Irish fishing village. Hilarity ensues after the locals discover that the aliens are repulsed by blood with high alcohol levels. Thus, the only way to survive is to get drunk and stay that way.