Today we welcome a friend of mine named Julie. As a wife, mother, and grandmother, she has some wonderful insight and advice on the gifts we have as women and how we can use them to serve God and others!


Here is a short introduction:

My parents were brought to the U.S. from Poland shortly after they were born. My relatives were very steeped in their Catholic faith which was passed to me. (My maternal grandmother's maiden name was Wojtyla, the same as Pope St. John Paul II). I attended Catholic grade school, high school, and college.

When I was 23 years old, most of my friends were married and having children. Since I knew marriage was my vocation, I began to pray daily to St. Jude - the patron of hopeless cases! Two years later I met my husband in April, was engaged in June, and married in August...48 years , five children, and eighteen grandchildren ago. In my mid thirties I had a desire to know more about Scripture and to come to a personal relationship with Jesus. A friend invited me to a Bible Study. This led to involvement in our childrens' Catholic schools, to ten years of volunteer youth ministry, to twelve years at Pro-Life Wisconsin as a volunteer, and to many prayer groups, rosary groups and book clubs.

I am so grateful for God's mercy in our lives. He has carried our family through the good and the hard times. And His gift of the Catholic Church has provided us with the fullness of truth. Oh...and the name of the parish where my husband grew up and where we lived the first four years of our marriage? St. Jude!

What has been your most rewarding service experience?

It was in 1985 when I was volunteering for Women for MACC-Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer that we did fundraising for childhood cancer research. I was asked to organize a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. It had never been done before so I was totally reliant on the Holy Spirit for guidance. There were no past records or notes to guide me. I was on the phone one day with a printer for the programs and we needed a name for the event. So I prayed about it and the Holy Spirit gave me the name “Pastafest”. It is still called that to this day; thirty years later! It went so well they are still doing it every year. We were able to get the meat donated from St. Louis, the noodles from New York, and the sauce from Burlington, Wisconsin. We prepared to feed 1,600 people, but fed 1,200. The remaining 400 meals we took to a soup kitchen. Not only did God feed the people at the fundraiser, but He also fed His poor! I can remember looking down the aisle and watching hundreds of people eating a good meal together and thinking, “Wow! God, look what YOU did!”

How did you balance service with your obligations as a mom?

For a while, I didn’t balance very well. When my children were young, I was more anxious to get out of the house. But eventually I learned to balance my volunteering with the needs of my family. I was fortunate that I could stay at home with my children and this allowed me the flexibility to schedule service work, yet I would always put my children and my family first. The rest just worked out.

Why do you feel a woman's unique gifts are so important in the Church, in charity work, on service projects, etc.?

I have had a God-given heart for young people ever since I can remember. I loved being a teenager and God held onto that. So, when I was in my forties, I felt attracted to youth ministry. I’ve always had young people in my life who were like my own kids. I would consider this a form of spiritual motherhood; being there for them during difficult times and decisions, offering them an ear, praying with them, and providing faith-grounded guidance. I nicknamed this “Coffee Cup Counseling”! This sense of desiring to nurture others is definitely a unique gift of motherhood and womanhood.

As I grew older, I was worried this gift and love for helping young people would wane. But that didn’t happen at all. I still have wonderful relationships with young people and they continue to call me for advice; even after many years! Today I find our family spending time with outstanding newly ordained priests and seminarians.  They give us so much hope for the future of the Church. I feel so blessed to help people in this way. I think it really comes from the gift of nurturing that God puts in a woman’s heart. The funny thing about this is years ago, I found out my name, “Julie”, actually means youthful spirit!

Another unique gift that God gives to women is sensitivity. While some women are good at this from the get-go, I feel I’ve gotten better at empathizing with others and being more sensitive to others with age and the wisdom that comes with it.

As a mom without extra money, I had to learn to live within our means. This gave me a greater appreciation for the blessing of being a stay-at-home mom and it also helped me to better empathize with the less fortunate and those who I could help through service.

As a mother, how do you feel your service impacted the character and faith formation of your family and especially your children?

I volunteered with youth ministry for our archdiocese for ten years. Often my children were around and were positively influenced without my realizing it. I also didn’t realize my younger children were being influenced by the positive presence and prayers of older kids who came to our youth gatherings. I was very involved with a mother’s guild at my sons’ high school and volunteered for twelve years with Pro-Life Wisconsin; ten years on the Board and three as President. This role had the most influence on my youngest son. He would come and pray with us outside abortion facilities. When he became a teacher at a Catholic boys high school, he would take students to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. He has been taking them for the past ten years. Volunteering with Pro-Life Wisconsin has provided a positive example for our children and even my husband. Now that he is retired, he continues praying for victims of abortion outside a local abortion facility every week. He has done this for several years. Our service has shown our children how important it is to care for others through our gifts of time and putting our talents to good use.

What are some major lessons that service has taught you and how has it brought you closer to Christ?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through service is humility and learning we are nothing and can do nothing without our Lord. On the flipside: realizing we can accomplish so much more with Him than by relying on our own strengths. It is important to constantly discern how He wants to use us. The minute we open the door and allow Him to use us as His hands and feet, it is amazing how quickly things can come together for His glory. All we have to do is get out of His way!