Sister Julie Christensen

June 11, 2010 by

As a child in Concordia, Julie was familiar with several of the Sisters of St. Joseph. “We’d come help (Sister) Annie (Glatter) in the garden sometimes, and my mom was good friends with (Sister) Margaret Schreck,” she recalls.

“But sisters were all old and not relevant,” she concludes with a laugh, “and I wanted to be relevant.”

By the time Julie had reached high school, she knew she wanted to be of service — perhaps as a social worker — and while at Kansas State University she had a chance to visit Mexico and see religious women doing social justice work.

While there the students visited a convent and even played volleyball with the sisters, “And I thought, ‘Huh! These nuns are pretty cool!’” Julie says.

But, she adds quickly, “I also thought, ‘Me? A sister? Religious life? What’s that all about?’”

Yet she started going to vocation talks at St. Isidore’s Church in Manhattan and meeting younger women who were interested in religious life. And she got to know Sister Anna Marie Broxterman, who at that time was vocation director for the Sisters of St. Joseph.

“It spiraled from there, but it was a very slow spiral,” Julie explains, laughing. “Anna Marie was relentless — but it was relentlessness in helping me find my way.”

After Julie graduated from K-State in 2004, her restlessness took hold: She lived for 10 months with Anna Marie and Sister Carolyn Teter, then completed a graduate certificate in conflict resolution. But she started and stopped work on another graduate program, and then she and a friend moved to Portland, Maine, for three months.

On one hand she was living the reasonably carefree life of a young college graduate who has not quite found her place in the world; on the other hand she was increasingly drawn toward the Sisters of St. Joseph.

She says now, “I was pretty certain I was called to religious life when I was 18 — but nothing about it made sense. The majority of sisters were elderly, the minority were in their 50s and 60s; there was nobody in her 20s. It didn’t seem normal for a 20-something.

“It wasn’t a fun and crazy atmosphere — in fact, it seemed almost the opposite of what I was used to.”

And at the same time, she says without laughing, “It felt so right, but I couldn’t explain it.

“It took a while for me to own this; this is what I’ve been called to be.”

So in the fall of 2007, Julie became a postulant of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. A year later, she began her two-year novitiate.

It was also in 2008 that she joined with seven other novices from congregations of St. Joseph around the country to take part in a formation program in Orange, Calif. When that 10-month program ended in May 2009, Julie returned to Concordia to prepare for her temporary profession this Sunday.

Today she lives at Manna House of Prayer, where in August she will become a staff member. She expects to lead confirmation retreats at parishes throughout the Salina Diocese, and will continue work on a master’s degree in Christian spirituality through Creighton University.

“I am always restless, always looking for something that will capture all of my energy, and my spirit,” she says as she looks toward Sunday’s ceremony. “This is it; this captures all of me.”

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