*Sr. Julie Ann will not be accepting new discerners at this time*
Peace and all good! I am Sister Julie Ann Sheahan. God called me to be a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity 45 years ago. The Diocese of Steubenville is one of dioceses we serve. Franciscan University is a campus many of us have visited.
Today, I am a teacher, have a Masters in Catechetics, and a certificate with on the job training in Pastoral Communications. I taught in elementary schools in Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona. This led to living among the Tohono O’odham in Arizona about 13 miles from Baboquivari Peak near the Mexican border as part of the staff for San Solano Missions. I served with my Sisters and others in 9 villages while encouraging leadership in small faith communities, preparing families for sacraments and being present in times of joy and sadness. I still reflect on the wisdom gained from such warm-hearted people.
Now I serve in Vocation Ministry. I’ve walked with young women who are my Sisters in Community, others who followed the Lord to contemplative and apostolic congregations or live as consecrated virgins, and still others who are happily engaged, married, proud mothers or dedicated single women in the Church. St. Francis’ call to build the Church ‘heart by heart’ is truly my mission. St. Clare is ever my favorite intercessor. Troubleshooter for technology and communication, she is a steady support as I facilitate my Community’s website, respond to invitations with young adults in individual and group settings including collaborative silent Discernment of Spirits Retreats with Poor Clares, Carmelites and Cistercians, zoom retreats and most importantly, meeting young women where they are, sometimes virtually, often geographically and always personally.
Like St. Francis, I had questions along the way about my vocation. Francis thought he was called to ‘rebuild the Church’ stone by stone, but soon he discerned it was more a matter of ‘heart by heart.’ His discernment process took time, and mine did too. However, in other ways, my unique discernment journey was more like St. Clare’s. “…with swift pace, light step and unswerving feet, so that even your steps stir up, no dust, go forward securely, joyfully, and swiftly, on the path of prudent happiness, believing nothing, agreeing with nothing which would dissuade you…”
I was blessed with the best of families: loving parents, five brothers, three sisters. Community life was a daily experience. The Sacred Heart of Jesus was enthroned in our home. My prayer grew as a relationship. Jesus was a real person in our lives.
I was also gifted with Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity teachers in elementary, high school and college years. God couldn’t have made it more obvious that this vocation was for me. I felt at home with their simplicity of life, joy and selfless dedication to me and others. The Motherhouse was so awesome.
Lastly, St. Clare’s ‘light step’ of walking is mirrored in my own joy of hiking. I also delight in light-hearted moments of playing guitar with a band of my Sisters in Community.