Sister Julia Burkart

Sister Julia is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in New Orleans, Sister Julia studied for two years at Dominica College before joining our Community, making her First Vows in 1950. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree at Trinity College, and her Master’s Degree in Library Science at Catholic University.

Sister Julia ministered in the Admissions Office of Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and at our Novitiate in the Philippines, before returning to the U.S. and working as a librarian in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. She also was on the staff at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Philadelphia for one year.

In 1972, Sister Julia earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of St. Louis. She spent several years as a social worker, in school programs in New Orleans, and at New Mexico State Hospital in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Sister Julia began teaching social work in 1975. She recalls, “I liked teaching, and I had gotten my start teaching novices.” She served on the faculty of Eastern New Mexico University and West Texas State University. After additional studies at Texas Women’s University, she spent 12 years at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

Volunteer work became Sister Julia’s ministry after her official “retirement.” She served homeless women and women in prison in New Orleans for several years, until she moved to Tucson in 1999.

In Tucson, Sister Julia spent four years serving at Casa Maria, the Catholic Worker soup kitchen. She recalls, “The first time I went there, I knew I was in the right space…my job was whatever was needed…it was so rewarding to see hungry people fed.” Sister Julia also worked in a crisis nursery, and was a volunteer teacher and librarian in a local parish. She then moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where she continued her volunteer work.

Now living at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia, Sister Julia also has been involved with Pax Christi and Amnesty International. She reflects, “I think national organizations with a track record and history are very powerful…you have to be public about social justice. It’s not enough to pray and have something in your mind. You have to have public action.”

January 15, 2011