Sister Julia Hillary entered religious life from St. Nicholas in Galway, Ireland. Her family influenced her decision to enter religious life. She remembers praying the rosary together as a family. She says, "Reading missionary magazines and learning the plight of the neglected enkindled a desire in me to become a missionary." A local parish priest, Fr. Connors, introduced her to the Sisters at Sacred Heart High School in Kingston, MA, where she met Sister Irenea, who convinced her that she had “come to the right place.” Shortly thereafter, in 1955, she entered the Community.
Sister Julia was an elementary teacher at St. Francis Xavier School in South Weymouth, MA (1958-61), St. Cecilia School in Stamford, CT (1961-64) and Sacred Heart Elementary in Kingston, MA (1964-87). She was a life enrichment specialist and bereavement coordinator at Cranberry Hospice in Kingston, MA (1988–94); a life skills teacher to mentally challenged children at Cardinal Cushing School in Hanover, MA (2000-04); a groundskeeper at Mishannock Convent in Kingston, MA (2004-15); a library volunteer at Sacred Heart High School in Kingston, MA, and groundskeeper at Providence House in Kingston, MA. One of Sister Julia’s most moving experiences came when she visited a hospice patient who had been diagnosed with cancer of the tongue. He lived alone, and when he refused help from the hospice team, she was asked to visit him. When she entered his room, window shade drawn, she noticed, upon drawing closer, his long matted beard, which gave him an unsightly appearance. As the visit progressed, he allowed her to open the shade, and with gentle persuasion, he allowed her to wash his face and shave him. She recalls, “With each stroke of the razor, right before my eyes, a most beautiful face was revealed. I thought to myself, and felt profoundly, ‘this truly is the face of Jesus.’ For me, God’s Providence was made visible in human form.”
She says of how she sees herself living out her charism, "I have come to realize, as I continue to advance in years, that it is our charism that motivated me to continue to give back to my community the gift of myself as groundskeeper at Providence House. As I continue my life on a daily basis, I am more aware of being a Provident Woman and more aware of the needs of my Sisters in community and take joy in helping them."
Self-described as dependable, energetic, flexible and enthusiastic, Sister Julia enjoys listening to music, reading, gardening and socializing.
CLICK HERE to make a gift in honor of Sister Julia's 65th Jubilee.