Eileen O'Farrell Smith, MPH MA


Who I Am

I was born into an Irish Catholic family and grew up on Long Island, NY, before the Second Vatican Council. Most if not all of my schooling was in the Catholic tradition: an all-girls High School with the Sisters of Mercy and a Catholic college, led by the Spiritans. After school, I joined the Peace Corps…and VISTA…then returned to school obtaining a Master of Public Health.

While I thought I was destined for medical school, in 1986 I married Stephen Smith z”l, a Jewish man from Boston (talk about a Yankee/Red Sox rivalry!!).  In quick succession, we were blessed with three children, my precious Nora, Bennett and Liliana. It was at that same time, we ‘birthed’ The Interfaith Union.

As we strove to raise our children with authenticity in ALL things, including religious and spiritual matters, I was captivated on how our children were growing and so in 1995 I was awarded a grant from Lilly Endowment to study how religious faith was formed in children of interfaith parents.  That work became a book, several years later through the generosity of the ACTA Foundation, which I entitled "Making Our Way to Shore". 

A few years ago, in the summer of 2008, my husband Stephen died after a prolonged battle with brain cancer.  During our 23 years of marriage, although I was the Catholic and he the Jew, we managed to raise our three children in the most remarkable way - in love and dedication in community, together and steadfastly, attending services and creating ritual, to the point that from the outside you weren't sure who was who: we were an interfaith family!

After his death, I entered seminary training, receiving a Masters in Theology, with an emphasis on Spirituality and Cross Cultural studies, searching for the way to continue my work, though in a transformed way. The circle is now complete, having just completed 5 units of clinical pastoral education  (CPE) as Chaplain and Minister.

I look forward to meeting you and continuing the story!