I learned of Shelia’s death this past week. She embodied Vatican II. I worked with her in the Office for Divine Worship. She dedicated her life to family and the mission of the Church. From her obituary: “Sheila was dedicated to Chicago’s Catholic community. She was the first woman and layperson to serve as the Director of the Archdiocesan Office for Divine Worship. Later, she served as the Director of The Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Center for Theology and Ministry at Catholic Theological Union. She was a knowledgeable and trusted leader in the church and made many enduring friendships during her decades of service.”
I wrote this tribute to Shelia for Pastoral Liturgy Magazine: I worked with Sheila McLaughlin for my three years at ODW (1987-1990). Her laugh echoed down the hallway when she entered the building and her kindness still radiates in the corridors of my memory. She was the master organizer and she tied together many of my loose ends when I did not have events organized well. More importantly, Sheila believed in Jesus. She understood the depth of our worship and the real reasons for our ministry, our educational sessions, and our liturgy planning and celebrations. She believed in the Church’s mission to pray, to bring people into communion, and into the joy and delight of love, song, and sacred healing. She loved ODW and she inspired me as a priest to continue to preach and to preside for the well-being of people and glory of God. I adored her. Sheila, rest in peace, my sister. Rest in the Beloved.