I first met Sheilagh Ashworth in 1995-upon my first visit to Daybreak-in the kitchen of the New House where she was loading the dishwasher (as L’Arche assistants do over and over and over). I immediately fell in love with her warmth, her spirit, and her beautiful, gracious smile. She had an intense interest in all the people she met, and you could immediately feel her deep desire for connectedness.
Sheilagh came to L’Arche as an assistant at the Corner House and later at Mortimer House in L’Arche Toronto in the early-to-mid-90’s. These were the years before her journey to becoming an ordained priest in the Anglican Church. She remained connected to L’Arche, often celebrating at Daybreak’s morning services, and attending community events with her daughters, Sarah and Madeleine.
Sheilagh touched many people’s lives within L’Arche and beyond as she served in several local parishes and was also a hospital chaplain. As a friend, a priest, and a mother, she brought a life-giving presence to others. She brought healing, love, and, most significantly, unwavering hope. She simply called others to hope, even during her illness. She asked this of her loved ones shortly after her diagnosis last summer: “I’d like you to do a simple thing, and that is to be hopeful… I’d love it if this trouble resulted in more hope for the world. I know for me it is changing me in profound ways, and so far as it is up to me, my intention is that it will be a blessing of hope for the world.”
Sheilagh lived until she died-with love and with hope. Her life inspires me and all of us to remain hopeful and to offer hope to one another.
Christi is a former Daybreak assistant. She currently lives in North Carolina with her family where she is the Pastor at Millbrook United Methodist Church.