Community Fellows 2021 – Sheila McCarthy

Sheila McCarthy, Ph.D.

Program Coordinator, Motels4Now

Sheila McCarthy, Ph.D., is a deeply committed advocate for social justice, focusing on issues of housing, education, and incarceration. Sheila currently works as the Program Coordinator of Motels4Now, a housing-first program that houses the chronically homeless in dignity. The low-barrier program provides resources that many local individuals cannot currently find elsewhere. A program of St. Peter Claver Catholic Worker, the effort also helps many individuals move into more long-term housing. Thanks to the work of Sheila and her colleagues, Motels4Now has provided housing for nearly 400 individuals in South Bend. Her time with the Catholic Worker house has been described as “radically out of the box [and] deeply inspiring.” Sheila is also a regular instructor with the Moreau College Initiative, facilitating robust higher education experiences for incarcerated men at the Westville Correctional Facility. Participants in the program can earn associates and/or bachelor’s degrees through Holy Cross College. Sheila also brings university students together with incarcerated individuals in common learning environments through the national Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. Inside-Out classes bring students together from both sides of the prison wall to explore issues of social and restorative justice as they relate to the United States criminal legal system. Sheila holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and PhD in Theology, both from the University of Notre Dame. Her graduate studies focused on liturgy and the connections between how we pray inside of Church and how we live through life’s joys and pains outside of Church. Sheila also has great interest in healing trauma through movement and is a certified yoga instructor. She has previously taught yoga classes at the Elkhart county jail.

As a Community Fellow, Sheila works with Margie Pfeil, Ph.D., on issues related to housing and social justice.