Ave Explores Series | Faith in Action | Week 2

Serving Our Communities Because We Are Catholic

Fr. Michael Trail
 Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish Outreach Commission
Chicago, Illinois


Fr. Michael Trail moved to Chicago in 2007 to attend Loyola University. Three years into his studies he transferred to St. Joseph College Seminary at Loyola and began studying to be a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Ordained in 2016, Trail stepped into his priestly ministry knowing he would not only have an impact on peoples’ lives, but knowing he’d walk with them through the journeys of everyday life.

Trail’s parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Chicago, Illinois, operates a Parish Outreach Commission that coordinates volunteers for local charities and not-for-profit organizations. They serve at the Lakeview food pantry, one of the largest in the Chicagoland area, and the parish is a collection site for donations for the pantry. The work is service based in the Gospel. “I try to keep social issues as part of my preaching because the Gospel has a real impact on the way we work with our community,” Trail said.

It’s this impact on the community and people that drew Trail into discerning the priesthood and this work continues in his pastoral duties. “I think this work is incredibly important for a priest and the Church as a whole because we are witnessing our faith. When our Lord says, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. . . .’ That is the call to make the work of social justice an integral part of our Church.”

Trail has been acutely aware of the challenges so many face, especially in inner-city Chicago. Homelessness and economic disparities are issues people face daily, and it pervades every neighborhood. “It’s easy to walk to the grocery store and ignore the person asking for help on the street or to avoid eye contact when the person is standing in the street while you are stopped at the light. We must not forget that person is a person with dignity who is loved by God,” Trail said.

Trail said all of us can help the poor. First, “start with hello, ask them their name, encourage them to have a good day (even if you don’t have anything to give). This humanizes both parties and it doesn’t turn a good act into one which only bolsters up the person who is doing it without first recognizing the dignity and humanity of the other.”

For Trail, seeing and loving of people and serving the poor, economically depressed, and those in need reaffirms the Church’s need to be out in communities. “One of the things I love about being a Chicago priest is our rich history of social action in our communities through the work of so many priests who have not only talked the talk, but also walked the walk of bringing the Gospel to our community through our actions, which then benefits the entire community. I often say to my congregation, ‘When we do good works it is not because the people we serve are Catholic, but because we are Catholic and we do all that we do with great joy.’”


Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish was founded in 1886 on the north side of Chicago. The Parish Outreach Commission is one of the largest volunteer programs in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Find out more here.

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