Sister Julie McCarthy, MM

Born: May 4, 1929
Entered: September 6, 1947
Died: December 18, 2008

Everyone who met Julie had a story. They remembered the day they saw her for the first time. “Well, how are you today?” she would ask everyone who came across her path. She knew their birthdays, their feast days, their anniversaries and those of their loved ones. And she never forgot them. She had a gift for each one, picked out and wrapped ready for their day of celebration. Julie knew their families, parents, and their children and her presence was invaluable to them. Her energy, her smile, her cheerfulness and her deep love of the poor and the simple endeared her to everyone wherever she served. She simply loved being a missioner, a follower of Jesus who radiated joy.

Julia Teresa McCarthy was born in New York City on May 4, 1929 to Gertrude (Grinnon) and John McCarthy. Julia had two bothers, Robert and John. Julia attended Our Lady of Wisdom High School, Ozone Park, NY from 1943-1946, and graduated from St. Aloysius Commercial School in Brooklyn in 1947. In 1951 and 1952, she attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and obtained a Certificate for Methods of Teaching Religion.

Julia Teresa entered Maryknoll on September 6, 1947, at Maryknoll Venard Residence in Scranton, PA. At Reception she received the religious name of Sister M. Therese Julie. She made her First Profession of Vows March 7, 1950, at Maryknoll, NY and Final Profession on March 7, 1953 at Mountain View, CA.

In 1952 Julie was assigned to Guadalupe, CA where, for the next ten years, she engaged in catechetical work. In 1962 she moved to Stockton, CA, where she continued her catechetical work and also trained teachers for this work.

In 1965 Julie was assigned to Peru. Before going to Peru, she did preparatory Spanish study at the Cochabamba Language School in Bolivia. She served in Peru for nearly 30 years in a number of locations: Juli, on the Alti Plano, in Lampa Chico, Yunguyo and Tacna. In these missions Julie engaged in pastoral work, primary school teaching, home-visiting and in training the lay leaders of the Christian Communities.

In 1998 Julie was assigned from Peru to Chile. Once in Chile, Julie took up residence in Coelemu where she continued to do pastoral work until her death on December 18, 2008. Julie was 79 years of age and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 61 years.

In commenting on her change of assignment from Peru to Chile, Sister said, “The best way to be a good missioner at this moment is to integrate myself as much as possible into the Chilean reality. After almost 30 years in Peru, this is a new experience and it is rather refreshing… No matter where I am it is the same Jesus I meet in Peru and Chile, I love both Peru and Chile and their beautiful people.”

Around mid-November of this year, 2008, Julie began experiencing health problems. She thought of advancing her renewal period to the States, planned for the summer months of 2009, but the thought of leaving her beloved Coelemu saddened her greatly. The trip, however, was not to materialize. On Friday, December 12, Julie experienced the first of two major medical events that would be the beginning of her journey to her eternal home. In the hospital in Chillan, Julie’s health, while critical became more stable and plans were in process to move her by ambulance to Santiago but once again, it was not to be. On Sunday afternoon, December 14, Julie experienced another more devastating event and the decision was made to move back instead to her beloved Coelemu — the place she had never wanted to leave.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday saw the people of Coelemu come to take Julie’s hand, assure her of their prayers, offer their love and feel her squeeze their hand one last time. Maryknoll Sisters, the hospital staff, the Pastor and Fr. Steve Judd, MM. kept vigil with her until her death.

Julie was waked in the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Coelemu on Thursday, December 18 and Friday, December 19. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on December 20th by Archbishop Ricardo Ezzatti and his Auxiliary, Bishop Pedro Ossandon together with other brother priests that included Fr. Fred Heggarty, MM. Present also were Maryknoll Lay Missioners.

Julie was accompanied to her final resting place in Coelemu by the people she loved so well and who loved her. Her gravesite was the gift of Ms. Elba Reyes who wished to have a part in honoring Julie’s wishes to remain forever in Coelemu.

Julie will be missed by so many: family, friends, and Sisters in community and everyone with whom she shared her missionary vocation.

Julie lived her life to the fullest, deeply and happily. She was a witness of God’s enduring love to everyone she met along her journey. She was also the embodiment of Mother Mary Joseph’s profound desire that, “no one ever take us for anything but missioners.” Thank you, Julie, for sharing life, love and mission with us.

We offer condolences to Sr. Julie’s family and welcome our Maryknoll brother, Fr. Earnest Lukaschek, who will preside at our Memorial Liturgy here in New York, in remembrance of Julie.