Bringing heart to the city of New Orleans


Seven Sacred Heart Greenwich students traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana during mid-winter break Tuesday, February 13 to Sunday, February 18. Two Sacred Heart chaperones, Upper School Dean of Students Miss Karen Panarella and Physical Education Teacher and Coach Ms. Lindsay Thompson, joined seniors Sophia Brusco, Charlotte Sheehan, and Nathalie Perreault, juniors Ludnie Rene, Shantel Guzman, and Grace Dahany, and sophomore Meghan Farrell. The group worked to restore homes and communities affected by Hurricane Katrina and the recent tornado.
After a day of traveling, the group settled in at the Duchesne House, run by the Society of the Sacred Heart. The Society of the Sacred Heart was first established for women in France by Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat. The group was greeted at the Duchesne House by Sister Bonnie Kearney and Associate Mr. Sergio Vasquez. According to, the Duchesne House offers service programs and meaningful experiences for students to engage in and reflect upon while helping others.

Nathalie Perreault ’18 works on one of the houses in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Shantel Guzman ’19.

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat established two goals, which the Duchesne House carries out through its programs. Her goals were to reveal to the world a God who loves us and to educate children to be a source of transformation in the world, according to The Duchesne House hopes to continue St. Madeleine Sophie Barat’s mission by spreading justice.
In order to help rebuild the city of New Orleans and fulfill the goals of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, the group of students and teachers worked with volunteers from the St. Bernard Project (SBP). SBP is an organization that provides assistance to affected communities from hurricanes and other natural disasters. The five goals in SBP’s mission statement are to rebuild, share, prepare, advise, and advocate. The organization hopes to achieve these goals through each project that they facilitate. 
Every night, the group came together to reflect and share moments from their day at work during a chapel service. After the conclusion of each chapel service, the girls journaled in their rooms.
Along with religious reflections throughout the trip, the group visited and drove by various popular attractions in the city of New Orleans, such as the Lower Ninth Ward, Café Du Monde, and Parkway Bakery to enjoy traditional Po’ Boy sandwiches. The students also attended mass at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and took a tour of the St. Louis Cathedral.
Grace shared her thoughts on how the resilience of New Orleans residents strengthened her faith.
Sacred Heart students attended mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.
Shantel Guzman ’19.

“I feel that the trip gave me a deeper understanding of the physical suffering that comes with tragedy and not just the emotional,” Grace said. “On the first work day, I was filled with doubt as to how God could cause such destruction. However, the optimism and kindness that the people of New Orleans showed me restored my faith as I saw firsthand how people have rebuilt.”
Every year following the trip, the group prepares a chapel to share their New Orleans service trip experience with the entire Upper School. 
Upper School Theology Teacher and Director of Social Justice and Service Mrs. Kerry Bader helped organize the trip and shared her thoughts on how the Sacred Heart community benefits, both religiously and personally, from the trip each year.
“I think the Sacred Heart community has benefitted because through the chapel service, students, faculty and staff are made aware of the devastation in New Orleans and the long-term impact that [Hurricane] Katrina has had,” Mrs. Bader said. “I also believe that our community benefits from understanding the role that nonprofits like SBP play in the rebuilding efforts and how our students can use their talents and energies to help others.”
– Juliana Collins, Sports & Health Editor
Featured Image by Shantel Guzman ’19