Leader Spotlight: Pat Kerrigan

Pat is a life-long resident of Youngstown, Ohio. In addition to his J.D. Law and Master’s in Criminal Justice, Pat is working on his dissertation for a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Kent State University. He was an attorney for 30 years, including Youngstown Municipal Court Judge in criminal justice for 10 years. Pat is a member of the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and is Executive Director with two new non-profits. One is called the Oak Hill Collaborative and the other is called Home for Good, which was started by Gamaliel affiliate, ACTION of Ohio. 

What is your relationship with Gamaliel and how did it begin?

My Pastor, Fr. Edward Noga, was very influential in my start with Gamaliel. To be honest, he is my friend and my role model. Father Noga was one of the founding members of ACTION in our area and is a board member of my collaborative, Home For Good. We both have been to National Leadership Training. I also work with him as President of parish’s counsel. Both Father Noga and I work around social justice principles with Gamaliel and ACTION. 

How has your Catholic background influenced your work in social justice?

When I was getting my undergraduate degree at Notre Dame, I was taught a strong commitment to Christian social justice. I also grew up with a Catholic family who were all political activists – learning to take action, supporting those who could not help themselves and fighting for what I believe in. Now I practice my faith by Christian social action, primarily through my two non-profits and my parish council. 

How do you see the Fire of Faith campaign align with Catholic Social Teaching?

Current Catholic Social Teaching is not only based on social justice principles but includes the concept of evangelization, motivating other folks toward a deeper religious commitment by our efforts and our example, by the testimony of our own fire. To me, both ideas also are embodied in the Fire of Faith campaign.

What community issues has ACTION and St. Patrick’s been addressing? 

Both continue to address a wide range of community issues, but, in particular, in conjunction with my two non-profits we are addressing social justice issues involving neighborhood revitalization and community development. The Oak Hill Collaborative is focused on redevelopment of the Oak Hill neighborhood area in Youngstown, which includes St. Patrick’s Church. Together we have transformed more than 60 vacant lots and abandoned buildings into community gardens, Habitat for Humanity homes, a city playground and other positive uses.  We have also abated several substantial nuisances and in general cleaned up the area. Currently, we are totally rehabilitating another abandoned building into a state of the art business incubator for small neighborhood start-ups.  ACTION’s Home for Good initiative is a resource referral center for “returning citizens” which will coordinate the provision of services to ex-offenders in our community. As an ex-offender myself, I recognize the need for an efficient, organized service delivery mechanism, particularly for my brothers and sisters who do not have all the advantages I had. We need to make an investment in people who have paid their debt to society and now have the opportunity to become productive, law-abiding citizens. This is more than just doing something for them; it becomes beneficial for the entire community.

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