Adapted from Giovana Soria’s article that appeared in a recent edition of the Maryknoll Society Employee Newsletter. Ms. Soria is an editorial assistant with Revista Maryknoll, the organization’s Spanish-language magazine.
Ewa Iracka feels blessed to have met so many people who have provided her with a helping hand in her continuing life journey. She feels that her mission today is to give back the same support that she has been fortunate to have received. As an immigrant from Poland, she understands and supports her fellow immigrants and the working poor.
Iracka arrived in the United States in 1981. Her first job here was at Macy’s. She also taught English as a Second Language at Westchester Community College and Mercy College.
“Having contact with people like myself was very good,” said Iracka. “I was lucky, because I spoke English and had a master’s degree in ESL, but we shared the experience of leaving our home countries and starting a new life in the United States.”
Teacher Discovers Financial World
While teaching at Westchester Community College, Iracka spent time after work hours to help students.
“I found jobs for some of my students,” she said. “I wanted them to progress. Some of them were professionals back home and had to work in the hardest jobs in this country. They wanted to belong to the American society. Some of them I’ve known for years and they have kids and grandkids now. Being in touch with them is wonderful.”
From 1985 to 1997, Iracka worked at a wine and liquor importer, where she discovered the financial world.
“I was very lucky to have a mentor and a good friend,” she said. “He was the one who started teaching me about finance and accounting and advised me to go to school.”
She completed accounting courses at Mercy and Iona College. Last year, she completed her master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.
Iracka’s journey at Maryknoll started in 1997. She first worked for Maryknoll Lay Missioners for two years. During 1999, she started working for the Maryknoll Society, which is the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. She started as an accounting manager and then transferred to the treasury department.
“I was lucky to have people around me who appreciated my work,” added Iracka. “I was at the right place with the right people at the right time with the opportunity to do the work I loved doing.”
Working closely today with Father David Smith, the chief financial officer of the Maryknoll Society, Iracka and her team of five employees oversee the assets, investments, real estate and insurance to protect Maryknoll property here and overseas.
As treasurer, Iracka conducts business with many different companies. She explained that Maryknoll is very involved in socially responsible investments, making sure that people’s human rights are not violated and that the environment is protected.
“When we invest Maryknoll’s money, we follow Maryknoll principles,” she said. “Whenever we talk to other companies we ask them what is their stand on social responsibility, how do they treat their employees or how many women and minorities work for them. In Maryknoll, we are a global family that cares about people.”
Recognized By Ossining's IFCA
Iracka recently received an executive director’s award from Interfaith Council for Action (IFCA) in recognition for her steadfast volunteer service to the organization, a not-for-profit housing network agency in Ossining. IFCA sustains community diversity and opportunity through affordable housing and social services, and it has a thrift shop in Ossining.
Iracka became involved with the organization through a Maryknoll missioner, Father Richard Callahan. When Father Callahan left his assignment in the Maryknoll treasury nearly two years ago, Iracka assumed his responsibilities with IFCA.
“My exposure to IFCA, enabled me to rediscover the similarities between Maryknoll and IFCA,” she said. “Our missioners go to foreign countries to help people all over the world while IFCA supports the people here in Westchester County, specifically those with little or nothing.”
Working for such a spiritual place as Maryknoll has helped Iracka overcome difficulties in her life. When she lost her mom, she found the healing she needed at Maryknoll. As she recalls her life’s journey, she is thankful and relates her miraculous success to God and faith.
“You never know what is going to happen in your life. You plan one way and sometimes it works out the other way around,” she said. “I feel so fortunate in my life because of all the steps I went through. I never look back, because there were reasons for every step. At the beginning of my journey, I would have never envisioned that I would be in the position that I am in now, both personally and professionally. Each day provides me with a new opportunity, which I never take for granted. Prayerfully, I continue on my life’s journey.”