Gail Sheehy: ‘You Can’t Help Getting Involved’

Gail Sheehy photo

Celebrated author Gail Sheehy is a fairly new member of our community, but she has plunged right in.

“Someone told me that the best way to get to know people at St. Michael’s is to become an usher,” Gail says. And so she did.

“It’s very seductive,” she says “You volunteer to do one thing at our church and you can’t help getting involved in other things.”

Gail co-led the women’s “Eat, Dance, Pray” event in November, gave out ashes on Ash Wednesday, and staged a forum in January that focused on the topic of her next book: millennials.

Gail’s book Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life, published in 1976, was inspired by her experience as a reporter caught in the crossfire of Bloody Sunday in Londonderry, Northern Ireland on Jan. 30, 1972. Gail sensed her own mortality and recalled stories of other people facing similar passages in their life: “They had that inner turmoil of feeling that time was running out,” she says.

Gail’s most recent book is Daring: My Passages, a memoir of her career as a journalist for New York magazine (founded by her late husband Clay Felker), Vanity Fair, and other periodicals.

When Gail looks at the passage of time now, she likes to use a mantra that she and Mother Kate talked about at the  women’s retreat in April: “Do One Thing.” “That’s my commitment now,” Gail says. “To persist, to be aware, to be active, to be present in the moment.”

Gail admits to being a political junkie but at the women’s retreat she avoided all newspapers and never once looked at her cellphone. “I just wanted to be in the moment,” she says.

Photo: “Did you ever cross a color barrier, a gender barrier or an age barrier?” Gail asked her forum audience in January. “It’s scary to cross a barrier and act like you belong. But eventually you will.”