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Do you have news for the community, a gift to offer the community, or a need? Email us if you'd like to post it here. You can also post a paper copy to the community bulletin board at the Sheil's Evanston campus on the wall by the first floor kitchen or the community bulletin board outside the main door at Sheil's Chicago campus. Check out Sheil's events calendar here to find a full listing of sponsored upcoming events.

Reflection on the New Orleans Mission Trip by Emma DeRose

Traces: NOLA Reflection 2023 


I thunder nails into the sides of the house.  Fwoom. Slam. Fwoom. Clink. Reggaeton pulses from my phone.  The sun peels at my skin.  It curls, petrifies like vellum.  There’s too much noise here.  My breathing accelerates.  I stop playing the music.  I turn on Laura Story-- her album Blessings, to be exact—and I recall the muggy-golden-verdant treedeep mornings of my childhood, strapped in the car seat while this same album wends its way around our tender heads.  I invite the spirit.  I summon her to breathe strength and love into my hands and heart.  I tell her I want to do the best I can to make this wooden structure a home.  I tell her I care.  That I am in her hands.

The pictures show that she never failed me.


What does it mean to be human? This question has and will continue to plague me for a long time.  I think I have some traces, some sense of it now more than I ever have since I set foot onto the sunbaked asphalt of New Orleans, onto this lore-ridden, rhythm-laden metropolis.

To be human is to listen to the stories of others—to observe reverently, to house their flame, to become a space for them to sputter, flare and yield yet never perish-- and, when listening fails, to try to acknowledge your shortcomings or re-guide yourself into the present.  To listen is to see.  I’ve heard stories from friends about where they’ve grown up, who they want to become, about their state of mind and the states of others.  I don’t know if I was the best listener (or respondent-- sometimes I even withdrew, physically or emotionally, from the conversation or their companionship) but I allowed myself to be coated in their confidences.  I believed that maybe the human could seep into me, maybe my heart of stone could be reborn into that of flesh.  I think that these things are coming to pass.

Then Father Tony-- in his rectory, bursting from the ambo, walking with us around town—told us of a city whose youth live in the shadows of neglect and despair, who need others to kneel with them in struggle and unveil the ocean of great love that is theirs to claim, if they so desire.  Of children who need to be told they’re beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made. Some, he said, are healed, some are not.   Behold.  If you look closely while driving around the streets of New Orleans, there lies the sorrow of abandoned youth grown old:

A man, menthol cigarette dangling from his lips, emaciated, staggers across a parking lot in the wasteland.  You’ll never forget the anguish in his eyes.  A woman begs at an intersection for rent money and aid for her three children.  Joella, at the grocery store.  She sought $15 for food and a shower.  Her eyelids brim with tears.  A withered stalk.  You gave her $7.  You wished you had given her more.  You pray for her at mass.  You want her tears brushed dry in the hands of the son.  You rely on the sparrows. 


I could tell you stories about the joy.  I could tell you about basking in the electric glow of the New Orleans verdure, careening down Bourbon Street, my feet airy, sprite-like, dining with my peers at Monet’s house, at the seafood restaurant, at Café du Monde, sailing into the stillness of the swamp, rejoicing with the Lord through the stirring spirituals performed by St. Jude’s music ministry and a devout laywoman, swaying within the great chain of being as we received communion, about the jokes cracked in the van, or the time half of our group was fleetingly, tragicomically lost in a grocery store.  But those were the faces, the histories that struck me the most.  Therefore, I treasure these experiences in my heart, perhaps more so because I allowed myself to listen with my eyes and soul, because I allowed myself to witness and, in my manual labor, to be a witness, hoping that, in some small way, I could repair the tattered but resilient community of the Lower Ninth Ward.

I am no savior.  I am no saint, just an ordinary woman.  But I have been given much love in my life.  This trip taught me how to pour it back in abundance.

Blessed be the name of the Lord God, King of the Universe, who awakens and draws forth the sheltered from their muted depths and provides for all-- communities, families, individuals alike—who cry out for His holy succor and peace.  Amen. 

July through December Financial Report

Click here to view the Sheil Catholic Center's six-month financial report for the months July 2022-December 2022.

A Letter from Teresa Corcoran, Sheil's Operations Director

To my dear Sheil friends,

I am writing to share some news: I will soon be starting a new and exciting chapter in my life. My retirement days are beckoning, my garden awaits, my suitcase is ready for travels, and my family and grandchildren are calling. It is time for me to travel, play, rest, and enjoy some time with my extended and extensive family.

While it’s time for me to move on and I will miss you all dearly; know that Sheil will always be in my heart and I’ll treasure the friendships and experiences that have been such a formative part of my life. I’m thankful and blessed to have had all of you with me on the many different committees and projects and for all the laughter, joy, and sorrow we have shared together. The prayer and worship we have gathered in will forever be a part of who I am and I am thankful to all of you for it. I appreciate all of your prayers over the years for myself and my family; I have been well prayed for! Please know that I too will continue to pray for all of you, for the Sheil team and the ongoing success of this mission.

The last 33 years serving here at Sheil has been an honor. I will continue on until June 30th and look forward to spending some time with all of you.

In gratitude,

Teresa Corcoran

To our readers: Please plan on joining the Sheil community on May 28th at the 11 a.m. Mass to help us say farewell to our dear friend, Teresa, and wish her well on her upcoming retirement. More details to come!

Service Opportunity

This winter, join Northwestern students for visits with the elderly at a local nursing home. This is a wonderful opportunity to accompany and build friendships with the residents. If interested contact Tim Higgins, Campus Minister, at



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