Sister Julia Marie, CSC
(Teresa Marguerite Jacomet)
March 24, 1930 – July 28, 2019
Word has been received of the death of Sister Julia Marie (Jacomet), CSC, at Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Julia Marie entered the Congregation from Toledo, Ohio, on January 29, 1949. Her initial profession of vows took place on February 2, 1952.
Teresa Jacomet arrived at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, over 70 years ago to become a Sister of the Holy Cross. Her pastor in Toledo, Ohio, knew her older sister Eleanor and her parents, Julia Bernier Jacomet and Leonard Jacomet, a tool and die maker. Rev. Francis Bruksieker considered Teresa a good candidate for the convent because she had “a solid piety and docile personality.” Upon reception of the holy habit on August 15, 1949, Teresa received the name of her mother, Julia, and was known as Sister Julia Marie thereafter. The pastor was mistaken thinking that docility was required to persevere as a consecrated woman, but she did have a solid spirituality. He prayed she would “render long and loving service, for God and the Church, in the active apostolate” of Holy Cross. And that she did.
Sister Julia Marie, though educated by a diocesan religious congregation of Ursuline Sisters, was attracted to the Sisters of the Holy Cross at 18 years old because she did not want to be limited to Ohio. As Sister Rita Bray, a long-time friend and companion in ministry, attested, “Julia did not want to be hemmed in. She wanted to be free to go anywhere.”
Sister Julia Marie served in Catholic elementary education as a teacher and/or principal for 28 academic years (1951 to 1980). The Sisters of the Holy Cross, with its expansive geographic reach, missioned Sister Julia Marie to schools in Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Washington, D.C. Her world of the classroom began as third grade teacher at Saint Mary’s Campus School, Notre Dame, Indiana, and culminated in the office of principal at St. Thomas the Apostle School in Elkhart and Holy Cross School in South Bend, both in Indiana.
In between, Sister Julia Marie managed to complete her bachelor’s degree in history at Dunbarton College of Holy Cross, Washington, D.C., in 1965. Her master’s in education from Loyola University, Baltimore, Maryland, in 1970—specializing in developmental reading—enabled her to travel Appalachian country roads leading to her next ministry with the rural poor in Lancing, Tennessee.
From 1980 to 2006 Sister made the foothills of northeastern Tennessee her home in the Diocese of Nashville (now the Diocese of Knoxville). She and Sister Rita Bray were motivated by the option for the poor taken by the Sisters of the Holy Cross in response to the signs of the times. The two women lived simply in a dilapidated farm house they called Our Lady of the Pines. They collaborated with the Brothers of Holy Cross, other religious congregations, three Catholic parishes and Protestant churches in the Lancing and Deer Lodge area throughout Morgan and Scott counties. Sister Julia Marie immersed herself in community outreach on the Cumberland Plateau, then founded the Plateau Home School, engaging others in tutoring children who needed extra help with basic reading skills. Her mobile library, thrift store and bread basket were located at Lancing, as was the Christmas store which sold affordable nonviolent toys. Other Sisters of the Holy Cross volunteered in the summers for the Christian Appalachia Project.
A welcome sabbatical in 1998 had helped Sister Julia Marie to shift her life focus “from ministry and prayer to prayer and ministry.” Sister wrote that she had followed a pattern of responding to needs as they emerged. She had seen the Our Lady of the Pines house as “a home that is open and available for folks to use as a place to pray.” Another need was emerging, but the diocese was unable to support a prayer center.Providentially, the Sisters of the Holy Cross had founded Angela House of Prayer and Retreat Center in Michigan City, Indiana. In August 2006 Sister Julia Marie was appointed co-director and was delighted to provide the hospitality and environment necessary. In July 2014, due to health issues, Sister transitioned to the motherhouse, assigned fittingly to a ministry of prayer. When Sister Julia Marie died at Saint Mary’s Convent, she transcended all limits and is enjoying the freedom of risen life.
Memorial contributions may be made in Sister’s name to the Sisters of the Holy Cross Ministry with the Poor Fund.
Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC