Father John Halligan, SJ
The youngest of eight children, Father Halligan was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. Reared in a devout Catholic family, Padre’s father was a New York City police officer and his mother a school teacher until she began a family. Padre entered the Jesuits in 1947 and graduated from Fordham University.
During his regency he taught for four years at Saint Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City. He also served as chaplain at the New York State Mental Hospital in Poughkeepsie, Maryland State Reformatory outside Baltimore and Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn.
After ordination, he went to Medellín, Colombia for tertianship and from there to Ecuador. Father Halligan began his work in Ecuador with the rural indiginous communities. In 1962 and 1963 he worked with Misión Andina, a United Nations sponsored program, in southern Ecuador. In 1964 he was assigned to analyze the situation of street children in Quito and, as a result, founded the Working Boys’ Center which he has led for the past 46 years. He continues as one of the general directors and legal representative of the WBC.
Padre is not the only family member called to serve God. Four of his seven silbings entered the religious life serving with the Maryknolls and Sisters of Notre Dame.
Sister Mary Miguel Conway, BVM
The third of eight children, Sister Mary Miguel Conway was raised in Boone, IA. Many of Sister Miguel’s talents came from her parents. Her father was a general contractor and her mother a teacher. Sister Miguel used many of these skills to help develop programs and construct buildings for the Working Boys’ Center. She entered the order of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) on September 8, 1956 and graduated from Clarke College in 1960.
Before going to Ecuador, she served six years in the United States as a mathematics teacher at St. Mary’s School in Lincoln, NE, St. Joseph Academy in Des Moines, IA, and St. Vincent High School in Petaluma, CA. She was inspired to serve abroad by her sister, Judy, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippine islands.
In 1967, she was assigned to work at the Working Boys’ Center in Quito, Ecuador to develop its programs and serve as its Co-Director. Now better known as Madre Miguel, she is responsible for the creation of many family development activities at the WBC and continues as Co-general Director. To date, over a dozen sisters from the BVM order have served at the Working Boys’ Center including director Sister Cindy Sullivan, BVM.