It’s a new year and the Ursuline Sisters continue to follow the instruction of Saint Angela Merici to “adapt to the times.” This is our new feature to keep everyone up to date with what is happening on the Ursuline Sister missions. We catch up with Sister Julia Head, who serves in adult faith formation ministry at the Church of the Immaculate in Owensboro, Ky.
After attending 7 a.m. Mass at Immaculate, Sister Julia heads to her office at the parish to read emails, many of which offer online resources to help with parish ministry during the pandemic.
“As the coordinator of the RCIA process for the parish, I am available four to five hours a day for those who are curious and/or interested in learning about our Catholic faith,” Sister Julia said. “I talk on the phone, respond to e-mails and visit in person one on one, as well as prepare and meet with the RCIA team of catechists and the seekers via Zoom (video conferencing). At this time, I am privileged to walk the faith journey with three families: in each family, a parent is seeking to become a member of the Catholic faith and in each family, there are children to be baptized and to prepare for sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. All these adults have been baptized so we do not have to use Easter as our target date for celebrating sacraments.”
Since she meets one on one or virtually, she searches for websites with videos to help the children learn about the Catholic faith. Then she coaches the parents, and they take responsibility for teaching the children.
“I share the ministry of baptism preparation for the first child with the director of Faith Formation,” she said. “In this ministry, the two of us meet with the parents of the first-born child, renew with them the Church’s understanding of their responsibility as parents asking for baptism of their child and do a simple walk-through of the ceremony.”
Sister Julia also serves as an advocate for anyone seeking the Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage – better known as an annulment. She meets one on one with the petitioner and assists in gathering all information that must accompany such an application.
“The RCIA process is an every-workday activity; the sacrament of baptism prep is periodic; and the work as an advocate can span several times of meeting with a petitioner until the basic paperwork has been completed,” she said.
“Parish ministry is needed now more than ever as our pastor, Father John Vaughan, and parish staff attempt to reach parish members as often as possible,” Sister Julia said. “We have experienced three rounds of all-parish calls. We gather volunteers, divide the parish directory into segments and coach each with a suggested script for sharing with our parish members, especially the elderly.”
“The only thing that is really different and will continue to be different for a few more months is that there are no meetings of groups – no more than three people at a time” she said. “That can be limiting, but we are grateful for technology that allows us to share via phone or computer.”
Sister Julia adapts to the various new restrictions and lifting of previous restrictions in an effort to keep all her parishioners safe.
“I am blessed to be able to serve in parish ministry,” she said. “This is my 56th year of preparing for and celebrating sacraments with families.”
To keep up with everything that is happening at Sister Julia’s parish, visit www.immaculateparish.org.