About Julia Walsh

Originally from Northeast Iowa, Sister Julia is a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, based in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Her love for God and God's good world is manifested in her attempts to be an educator, a youth empower-er, an earth lover, and a peacemaker. She ministers in the Midwest.

some thoughts on trust

This life of Christian discipleship is certainly a strange journey. I never really know what God is up to.   I rarely have complete confidence in myself as an instrument of God.  In fact, a lot of the time I feel completely confused, clueless, and lost. 

But I keep going, I keep walking with God, with Jesus, because I believe in him, and we have a pretty good relationship. And like all people that I love, I trust God. 

A relationship with God is a lot like a relationship with any other creature or person. The difference with God, though, is that s/he’s Almighty, Powerful, Perfect, Supremely loving, so there is even more room and reason to trust that God will be good and take care of us perfectly. But, like in any relationship, trust is REALLY hard because it is about letting go of control and allowing the other person/being to have their own power too. I have found, however, that once I let go and totally trust God, I experience the greatest freedom and joy ever. (Of course my trust may only last a little while, as I am so imperfect and have to let go and let God’s goodness take care of me over and over and over.) 
For a few years my salvation and all the blessings I have in my life felt like a burden because I wanted to badly to respond well and live the best life I could. It felt like an impossible responsibility and like I was setting myself up for failure over and over every day. 

And then something clicked in me. I realized that the Christian life is not about responsibility, really. It’s about following. And when we follow, we have to trust. We have to let go and allow God’s graces to shower us with clarity and peace and all that we need.  When I reframe my thinking to know that’s it is never up to me, really, and I don’t have any responsibilities, I get to know the freedom that comes from the Truth. God is in charge, all the time. I never have to be, I never am.

I am simply an instrument of God. And God creates all good things. I have such freedom to trust God that I’ll be okay and things are going and will go as they need to. And, when you think about instruments, they have to be empty and able to have the breath and wind of God move through them in order to make the most beautiful music. So, the great challenge is to let go of all that is within me— worries, fears, doubts, possessions, pride, sin, and so on, to empty myself of the things that clog my heart and mind and my relationship with God. Then I can trust, because God will use me beautifully, and it’s not up to me. I’m empty, I’m God’s. God is good, so I trust and live and Love. Thanks be to God!

hunger pain

Forgive me. This is a very unpatriotic post.  In fact, it may be my most dismal post ever.


This morning I learned that 2/3 of U.S. citizens are obese or overweight, and the numbers are steadily increasing.  Meanwhile, within the past month it was announced that the amount of people who suffer from extreme malnutrition or starvation throughout the world has surpassed 1 billion. 


I can’t imagine Continue reading

this time, the signs

Last week I joined my sisters and our affiliates at our General Assembly. It was a phenomenal experience. Since I am a newbie (novice), it was my first assembly. I was excited to observe, listen and learn how communal discernment can work in such a diverse (yet united) group.  These meetings are a pretty big deal and only happen every four years. Sometimes major community changing things happen. I think I witnessed something different.

Gathered around the theme “hearts aflame for mission,” we prayed and listened and debated and discussed and responded. We were graced with comfortableness with the uncomfortable mystery and tension that surrounds us.  Evidently we experienced a paradigm shift because Continue reading

The Fire that burns us changes us

Hey, hey, Happy Pentecost Day!

Dear Holy Spirit, the fire and flame of God that unites us, bless us with unity. Compel us to dialogue and compassion. Excite us about diversity and give us the graces we need to greatly love one another; all Christians, all Catholics. Help us, Holy Fire of God, to build your reign here on earth! Amen!

Good News: I get to make my first vows as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration this summer! Yay! I am so excited to more deeply commit to God and the Franciscan family. And, yes, I am excited to commit to our in-transition, chaotic, divided, tense, messed-up, lovely, human, growing, moving Catholic Church. It is such an exciting time to join a religious community, a time when it feels like Continue reading

bread and feet

Yeah, I know we’re a week after Holy Thursday and in the Octave of Easter now, but I still gotta share this with you:

I have a love obsession with bread and feet. I have a picture of a loaf of bread tattooed on my foot. My theme for my novitiate entrance ceremony two years ago was “walking with the bread of life.” I love walking into my community’s adoration chapel and praying before the Blessed Sacrament. I’m a Eucharistic woman who loves all that Jesus taught us when he had that meal with his friends back in the day, but especially the bread and feet stuff. In a blog-space I won’t be able to provide an exhaustive list of my reasons nor will I get too theological, but I’ll expose you to a little of my thinking.

Bread: In some form it’s a staple in every culture. The process to create this nourishment is a metaphor for growth, development and creation. One of my most common images of God is The Baker-Woman God: I often sense that God is stirring me, kneading me, pounding me, letting me rise, baking me, breaking me, sharing me… When bread is broken and shared the food that is all the different bellies is a great unity. And, I think unity is a sign of Love. My favorite smell is bread baking. I think Jesus got it right to choose this as part of his final message of Love-living.

Feet: They’re one of the most fascinating parts of the human body- people seem to either think they’re ugly and disgusting or adorable and cute. I love going barefoot espcially in gardens where I can feel the ground between my toes. Our feet ground us and connect us to Earth. They’re a symbol of our roots and journeys. They help us get to where we need to go, remind us of where we’ve been and keep us grounded in the present Now. One of the best ways to love and care for someone, when you’re unsure of what else to do, is to offer them a foot washing and massage. It’s part of nursing care and pedicures are pretty popular in some cultures. Again, I really think Jesus knew what he was up to with the whole-foot washing thing.

So, I just mentioned to my Mom that I’m writing a thing about bread and feet and she laughed and said “I don’t see the connection. One is for putting in your mouth and the other is for putting on the ground.”

The connection is in Jesus and his message of love. Love of community around an incredible inclusive, teaching table. I hope and pray that during his Easter time all Christians will rise up and walk and break bread together in the unity of Love.

Awareness and Action

Last semester I taught World history to a group of high school students.  When we were studying the holocaust  I asked my class what it is about humanity that allows us to do such awful things.  Together we were dumb-founded as we contemplated the question. 

Then I said, “How do we prevent such things from happening?”

“Awareness!” many of them replied.

“Is awareness enough?” I asked.

“No,” a wise student said. “We must also take action.”

I think of that interaction over and over as I involve myself in peacemaking.  I don’t consider myself an activist because I feel like I barely do anything.  I simply hang out with the type of people I want to be like.

But I am involved. I belong to a couple peace communities. I attend meetings and ask a lot of questions and am amazed by how much more there is to be concerned about, how much more I can still learn.  I pray with the pacifists and am inspired by their stories about working for social change with creative non-violence.

Peacemaking is definately a combination of awareness and action.  The groups I belong to are trying to do both. Here’s some samples:

Some of my friends from one of the groups I belong to, Kairos Chicago, are in Washington D.C. this week lobbying to end torture as part of the 100 days campaign.   Yesterday they attended a Senate committee meeting on Senator Patrick Leahy’s proposal for a “Truth Commission” to investigate and uncover how the U.S. could indefinitely detain and torture “enemy combatants,” including U.S. citizens, in the “war on terror.”  Although the group supports a Truth Commission, they also insist that the victims’ voices must be part of this.  They dressed in orange jumpsuits and held signs–“Listen to the victims”–at the hearing.


The other main group of peacemakers that I belong to is my community, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.  More specifically, the Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation Committee (JPICC) is working to increase awareness about the complexity of world hunger.  Through the lens of the situation in Columbia we are working to understand how several social problems connect.  Every awareness story includes an action. 

Even though social problems are extremely complicated I am a Easter person, walking in the Lenten season. I will not give up hope that with increased awareness and action we can end the holocausts of our time.

Originally from Northeast Iowa, Sister Julia is a novice with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, based in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  Her love for God and God’s good world is manifested in her attempts to be an educator, a youth empower-er, an earth lover, and a peacemaker.  She works at an inner-city Catholic high school in Chicago.

The Bonds of Intentionality

I live in an intentional community. I live with two other sisters from my congregation, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, a larger community of about 250 sisters and 200 or so lay affiliates.  I’ve been with the community for over three years now.  And, I continue to be completely awed by the bonds that are between us.

Most recently, one of the sisters I live with now lost her mother to a sudden illness.  As her mother’s health declined she boarded a plane here in Chicago and flew to be with her family and mom in Montana during her final days and through her burial.

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