About Our Founder
Sr. Catherine Lillis was born on the 23rd of October in 1929 in Querrin, Kilkee, Co. Clare. Sr. Catherine spent the early part of her career as a missionary in the Far East, before developing a keen interest in addiction. She travelled to the US where she trained as an addiction counsellor in the early 70′s. Her training was based on the Minnesota model of addiction counselling. Upon her return to Ireland, she worked in the Rutland Centre initially and subsequently in Dublin’s Inner City for many years with the Health Board. During this period Sr. Catherine also worked weekends at one to one and family counselling in Navan. Sr. Catherine also sits on the National Council of Alcoholism and brings her vast experience to that. Such was the impact on her of the acute shortage of extended care facilities of the Minnesota model for men in Ireland and with her experience gained at a halfway house in the USA, she realised the desperate need that existed in the North East for additional treatment facilities for recovery follow up. Thus was born the vision of Tabor House.
One cannot underestimate the determination and dedication of Sr. Catherine in bringing this vision to reality. At the very time that Sr. Catherine set about the fulfilment of her vision, the Policy in Ireland was shifting from residential care for those with addiction to community care. The many programmes being fostered at various locations around the country were methadone based for drug users, and one to one counselling and drop-in centres. Sr. Catherine believed that for many, this was not a satisfactory option and their chances of recovery were slim. With a zeal, that words will not express adequately, Sr. Catherine with a small group of supporters began to knock on the doors of authority, searching for the way to create Tabor House.
When she was not in meetings or helping the countless numbers that became her clients, she was encouraging, her close friends in a flurry of fundraising initiatives, that would help form the financial footing for Tabor House. In 2003 a breakthrough occurred with the North Eastern Health Board and the Department of the Environment and Local Government which sealed the fact that if Tabor House was created, the departments would give Tabor, in part, the necessary support to continue with the work. Refurbishment of the premises came next and the first clients arrived into Tabor House in 2004.
The official opening of the House took place in May 2005 and was performed by President Mary McAleese. The residents of the day together with Sr. Catherine welcomed the president. Mass was celebrated by Reverend Gerry McCormack, Administrator of St. Mary’s Parish Navan. Afterwards, President McAleese delivered a powerful speech which was warmly welcomed by the large attendance. Sr. Catherine responded to the president with some quiet words of gratitude. She referred in her speech to the awesomeness of a thought in her mind becoming a reality and thanked all those present for their work in bringing this vision to fruition.