OBITUARY

Catherine A. O'Callaghan

March 3, 1924April 10, 2019
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Catherine Agnes O’Callaghan, 95, of Stapleton, passed away peacefully on April 10, 2019, at Island Shores Senior Residence.

“Katie” was born the second of eight children in Greeley, Nebraska, in 1924.

She met her husband, Pearse O’Callaghan, in 1944 in Grand Island, Nebraska, where he was serving in the US Army Air Force. They moved to Stapleton at the conclusion of World War II and raised 10 children in that community. Pearse and “Mac” (as she was known to all) had a child in the Immaculate Conception School every year for 30 years. She also served as the president of the school’s Mother’s Guild in the 1960s.

In the 1970s, she left her job on Wall Street to work as a school secretary at Curtis High School to be closer to her children. She hosted many foreign exchange students over her years at Curtis.

Mac was a co-founder of the Mud Lane Society for the Renaissance of Stapleton, and opened up her Victorian home to her community for the Mud Lane House Tour, the Stapleton Steeplechase, and the annual Holiday Caroling Celebrations.

Mac volunteered to cook meals for the homeless at the Carpenter Shelter in Stapleton, and eventually became a board member of Project Hospitality. The Carpenter Shelter later became the “O’Callaghan House,” Staten Island’s only transitional residence for mentally ill homeless adults with a history of substance abuse.

She continued volunteering for many local organizations, in many capacities. While honored often as a community leader, she considered herself more of a soldier. She also volunteered for the Staten Island University Women, the Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries, the Community Agency for Senior Citizens, the O'Callaghan House, the American Association of University Women, the College of Staten Island Alumni Association, the Richmond County Liberal Party, the Democratic Organization of Staten Island, the Staten Island Botanical Garden, the Staten Island Museum, the Grandmother's Club, and St. Mary's Church.

In 1986 Mac graduated from the College of Staten Island at the age of 62. She was later inducted into the College of Staten Island Hall of Fame.

As part of her college curriculum, she self-published her memoir, a family history, called “From the Prairie to the Harbor” in 2011. It was a tale of a “shy, young, country girl from a small farm in Nebraska whose life changed forever when she met a handsome WWII radio-corpsman from New York City.”

It details her life on “the harbor” as Mac transformed from naivety to activism and followed the lead of her outgoing, active husband, Pearse, in their efforts to contribute to the Staten Island community. In her memoir, she tells of many adventures with her husband and their 10 children during their busy and generous lives.

In 1987 Mac was honored as a Staten Island Advance Woman of Achievement for her years of community service.

“You have taken into your own home people in almost desperate condition to give them food and shelter,” then-Advance Editor Les Trautmann told Mac in presenting the award.

“So many of us avert our eyes when we see many of these people on the street; you have taken them in. This has not been headline material. It’s news that filters around town through word of mouth,” Trautmann said.

“You are a wonderful example; you are the first-class citizen. Above and beyond the call of duty is a small way of saying why you became a Woman of Achievement.”

In her acceptance remarks, Mac talked about her childhood in Nebraska and a visit she made.

“As I looked at the shell of what was once the small four-room frame home in which I was born and where I lived the first 11 years of my life, my thoughts went back to my mother,” she said.

"I remembered the meals she used to cook, the people she used to feed, and wondered, ‘How? How could one person cook up the meals she did in a space so small you could hardly turn around?’

“There was no gas stove, no refrigerators and no dishwashers. Meals were cooked on a coal range. Food was kept cool in an underground cave. There were no electric mixers or electric can openers. Worse, there was no running water.”

And then she had a little fun with the crowd.

“Woman of Achievement -- won’t that read well on my obituary? I guess it can’t top ‘Native Staten Islander,’ but it can run as close second."

Mac was the matriarch of a family that now numbers 132. In addition to her husband, Pearse, she is predeceased by her parents, Edward and Agnes McCarthy, her sisters, Madeline Ryan, Joan Glaser, and Claire Volf; her brother, Edward McCarthy; her son Michael O’Callaghan; and son-in-law, Tim Ryan.

She is survived by her children, Susanne O’Callaghan (John Walker) of Staten Island; Micki O’Callaghan of Basking Ridge, NJ; Catherine O’Callaghan of Basking Ridge, NJ; Marjorie O’Callaghan of Staten Island; Edward O’Callaghan of Virginia Beach, VA; John O’Callaghan (Lori) of Red Bank, N.J.; Thomas O’Callaghan (Sofia Sierra) of Brooklyn; Frank O’Callaghan (Elizabeth Esposito) of Staten Island; Mark O’Callaghan (Sharon) of Loudonville, NY; her daughter-in-law, Carole O’Callaghan of Findlay, OH; her brothers, Thomas McCarthy of Norfolk, Nebraska, and Patrick McCarthy (Mary) of Fond-du-lac, WIsconsin; a sister, Sister Regina McCarthy of Springfield, Kentucky; and her medical-companion, Ms. Humie Hairi Rasheed.

Mac has 59 grandchildren and who they are married to; 54 great-grandchildren and who they are married to; and four great-great-grandchildren.

Visitation hours will be from 2 to 4 p.m., and 7 to 9 pm on Saturday, April 13; and from 2 to 4 pm, and 7 to 9 pm on Sunday, April 14 at Harmon Home for Funerals, 517 Forest Ave, Staten Island, 10310.

The funeral Mass will be celebrated Monday at St. Christopher’s R.C. Church, 130 Midland Ave, Grant City, at 11 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, family and friends can make a donation to Project Hospitality.

Services

  • Visitation Saturday, April 13, 2019
  • Visitation Saturday, April 13, 2019
  • Visitation Sunday, April 14, 2019
  • Visitation Sunday, April 14, 2019
  • Funeral Mass Monday, April 15, 2019
REMEMBERING

Catherine A. O'Callaghan

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Lisa Balistreri

April 13, 2019

The members and friends of American Association of University Women send our sincere condolences to Mac’s family. She has been a loyal member of our branch for so many wonderful years and has touched all our lives in a special way.
She will truly be missed.
With deepest sympathy
Lisa Balistreri, President

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