We were back on St. Ann’s street again and continued with the demolition. It became a bit more involved when we went into the rafters to take down the ceiling. Everyone worked hard and long and hauled out large amounts of debris. One moment of entertainment came when David and Declan performed their newly choreographed greeting . . .

Some pictures from the day . . .

As a mixture of plaster, wood planks, and nails fell from the walls and ceilings of an abandoned corner store, the students, teachers, and volunteers experienced what it meant to take on a hard day’s work. We worked with fellow volunteers and staff members of the organization Youth Rebuilds New Orleans, who, ever since Hurricane Katrina, buy broken down houses and renovate them to sell to teachers who need more affordable housing (as you can imagine, the teachers of our group were more than happy to support the mission of this organization). 

We arrived at the site at 9 AM without any knowledge of the work we were going to do today; in Mr. O’Connor’s six years of supervising this annual New Orleans service trip, we are the first group to work through this organization and to do more “dangerous” work. In past years, groups were often painting houses; we cleared debris and demolished a building. A Convent girl up on a ladder hammering away at a wall with a sledge hammer would be a pretty uncommon site to see in San Francisco, but anything goes in New Orleans. As half our group was breaking down the walls of plaster and the wood behind it in one building, the other half shoveled disheveled wood planks and trash out of a small house. Both groups filled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow with the ruins from Katrina to bring out to a dumpster. We threw out at least one hundred rolls of black tar mat, dozens of paint cans and light posts, and tons of shredded wood to clear out the demolition site. It was incredible to try something I’d never even have the opportunity to do back home, especially for a great cause that supports the people affected by Hurricane Katrina.  ~ Cat Heinen




  1. Thank you Mr. O’Connor for documenting the trip and your work. I see how the kids’ work is making an impact on the community and how the community is making an impact on them as well. I am so proud to be part of the Sacred Heart family. I cannot wait to see more pictures and hear more tales. And I pray that someone filmed, or at least took abundant pictures of, Dylan and David trying hot sauce.


  2. You’re welcome, Dana. There’s a lot more to post but I don’t have the time do it. They are an amazing group of students who work well together and take everything seriously while still having fun.


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