Ellen Hagan is an integral part of St. Jean’s. As the parish receptionist, she is here from 9am to 4pm most weekdays to answer the ever-ringing telephone, act as a greeter to all who come by the office, prepare the Mass cards and cheerfully make the day a little easier for the parish administrators. Everyone knows Ellen!
Born in County Monaghan, near Dublin, Ireland, Ellen came to New York and it was here that she met and married her dear, late husband John. They move to East 76th and into the parish in the 1950’s. Each of their three children, John, Edward and Roseanne was baptized at St. Jean’s and attended school here.
The Hagan family suffered the sudden loss of John from a massive heart attack in 1968, and Ellen was left to manage with three little ones. She says that she and John had talked about how one would ever manage without the other, and he always told her, “Your faith in God will see you through”.
The priests at St. Jean’s offered help. Father Robitaille called her and asked if she would be interested in working in the parish outreach activities but that was quite difficult with children at home. However, in 1969, Father Kennette called about working with the St. Anne’s Shrine. Ellen has a great devotion to St. Anne and was interested in helping but Roseanne was still too young to be left alone. Father Kennete said, “Bring Roseanne,” so Ellen agreed to come for a couple of hours.
Ellen’s closeness to St. Anne started a few years earlier. She was the mother of two wonderful sons, but one day in conversation with Mrs. Slattery (mother of our own Father Slattery) she mentioned that she had always wanted a little girl. Mrs. Slattery urged her to pray to St. Anne and promise to have Anne as part of the longed-for daughter’s name if she were so blessed. As we know, St. Anne hear her praers and Roseanne was named for Ellen’s mother, Rose, and our good St. Anne.
The couple of hours that Ellen agreed to give to the St. Anne’s Shrine stretched to 18 years. She became a full-time worker and Roseanne virtually grew up in the St. Anne’s office. They even set up a little office space where she could do her homework.
Ellen became an even more involved parishioner. She served on the Parish Council from 1972 to 1975, was an activist for the St. Jean’s Middle School, worked on Bingo nights and the senior citizens’ dinners. In 1980, she and Betty Feeley started the annual Irish Night celebrations, which they happily produced for 15 years.
When the Shrine office was moved to Cleveland in 1987, Father Pelletier asked Ellen if she would consider taking on the job of parish receptionist. She was hesitant and wanted to know what was expected of her. Father told her, “If the phone rings, answer it.” He suggested she try it for one week. That turned out to be a fine suggestion.
Ellen says that the number of calls has tripled since those early days, but she loves her job. She has met an incredible number of people, including the Cardinal and the late President Nixon. Her family continues to give her great joy. Her son John recently earned his doctorate in English literature from NYU; Edward and his wife, Karen, are the parents of Danny and Erin; and Roseanne, who works in management at New York Hospital, was married to Patrick Laverty in 1995 at St. jean’s.
Ever faithful to St. Anne, Ellen will be working to insure the success of this year’s Novena in her usual fashion. You will see her at the religious articles table, but she has been busy behind the scenes preparing the baby medals, ordering the statues and the oil and tending to the mail.
In talking about St. Jean’s, Ellen says, “I loved the place from the day I first came here.” A woman of great faith, she exudes a wonderfully positive attitude which adds so much to the working environment at the Church. She says that she dearly loves working for Father Kamas, and despite the seemingly constant state of renovation, it’s a great place to be.
We are grateful to Ellen Hagan for the grace and warmth she has brough to this parish family.
By Barbara O’Dwyer Lopez