Black Catholic History: Julia Greeley

At Least We’re Here is a book club of 10 women who read only Catholic women authors.  Read more here

We have never actually read about Julia Greeley.

Julia lived in Denver from the time she moved here from Missouri as an ex-slave until she died in 1918 on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, which happened to be her beloved devotion.  She arrived not knowing her birth date or even her age and blinded in one eye by the whip of a slave owner.

This is the only known photo of Julia

This is the only known photo of Julia

Gina indexed the biography of Julia Greeley!

Instead we have a more interesting connection to her recently published story which was written by Fr. Blain Burkey, O.F.M., Cap.  One of our members, Gina, is a professional indexer, which means she breaks down all the subjects in a book or document into the index you see in the back.  Gina was honored to be chosen to index the 2011 book “In Secret Service of the Sacred Heart: Remembering the Life and Virtues of Denver’s Angel of Charity, Julia Greeley, O.F.S.” and she wrote about it in this guest post.

I have been to Julia’s grave at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, CO

Next time I go I’ll be sure to get a photo for you! Growing up in Denver I’m sure I walked on or near some of the same spots where she traveled the streets and alleyways, dropping off items needed by poor families but doing so anonymously so as not to hurt anyone’s pride.  I am even very sure my Grandma Sara’s parents knew about her as they were parishioners at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, not far from Julia’s parish, Sacred Heart.  Maybe they even saw her or met her at one time!

The National Black Catholic Congress site has a page dedicated to her. 

They tell of many acts of love and charity Julia regularly gave, one of which was to gather the cast off dresses of rich women and give them to poor single working women so they could attend social gatherings and church without shame.  Julia had a deep and holy sense of protecting others from shame and wounded pride.

Denver’s 9News aired this report earlier this year.

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A Night in Provence–Twice

We are a book club that reads Catholic Women Authors.  Read more about it here.

Two Months, One Book and One Essay

We were meant to gather in September and discuss A Traveller in Southern France by Christine Kaferly while eating Provencial cuisine.  We got off track though when some of us didn’t pick up the book in time and others were already finishing it up.  So Celeste recommended a superb article by pro-life activist Juli Wiley, titled “Jesus’ Genealogy: The Woman Problem.”

October 2013

October 2013

Plenty of French Food

Nevertheless when we arrived at book club in September many were prepared to discuss A Traveller and had fixed up some yummy French food.

When we assembled again in October to finally talk about the book lo and behold we ended up with plenty of dishes from the south of France.

I'm sauteing some Spinach

I’m sauteing some Spinach

Laurence and Gwen cook it up

Laurence and Gwen cook it up

Laurence's Leek Soup

Laurence’s Leek Soup

It was all extremely good and nobody minded.  Laurence grew up in France and made us an Eggplant Souffle and Leek Soup respectively.  I took the fresh vegetable route and cooked up some spinach and garlic that I topped with crumbled goat cheese.

Since I have a lot of time to make up for I’ll be back soon with news of a new baby, a beloved member who moved away (mom of the new baby) and a really new baby who is yet on the way!  There might be more news I haven’t thought of yet too.  And oh yes, I will comment more on the essay and the book.

A Special Anniversary in Denver

Celeste-Thomas-Consecration

Celeste and her mother Virginia celebrating Celeste’s consecration as a Virgin Living in the World

At Least We’re Here is a women’s book club!  Read more about it here

Last week we met to discuss the first half of Ear of the Heart An Actress’ Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows by Mother Dolores Hart O.S.B. and Richard DeNeut.

Some of us only finished half of the book before book club night

Some of us only finished half of the book before book club night

Several ladies were missing this time and most of us who made it hadn’t finished our books so we are going to meet again to discuss the book.  In the meantime we hope to have another movie night (read about our last movie night here) in August.  Believe me, there is a lot to say about this story.

This will be a different kind of movie night, because instead of watching a movie version of the book we’ll be watching a movie with the author as actress.   Among Mother Hart’s films are her first: Where the Boys Are (she was the first actress to kiss Elvis on screen) and Wild is the Wind with Anthony Quinn and Anthony Franciosa (the “two Tonys”) and Francis of Assisi in which she played Clare (many people thought this role influenced Mother Hart’s decision to explore convent life, but she insists it did not!).

The big news about last week is that we had an 10th Anniversary Party! 

Our group includes mothers and grandmothers– married and single, as well as a Consecrated Virgin Living in the World.  This particular vocation in the Catholic Church is an ancient one that was a great blessing to the Church and the the world; one of the fruits of Vatican II was the reestablishment of this rite in 1970.

Celeste, on the left in the photo below, made the following vow in 2003:

Archbishop Chaput: “Are you resolved to persevere to the end of your days in the holy state of virginity and in the service of God and his Church?” and “Are you so resolved to follow Christ in the spirit of the Gospel that your whole life may be a faithful witness to God’s love and a convincing sign of the kingdom of heaven?”

To which she answered, “I am.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput presiding over Consecration of Virgins Living in the World--July 15, 2003

Archbishop Charles Chaput presiding over Consecration of Virgins Living in the World–July 15, 2003

Only a bishop can officiate at a Consecration ceremony.

On July 15, 2003 Archbishop Charles Chaput presided in a packed Basilica of the Immaculate Conception while Celeste and Anne proclaimed their resolve to live a life of virginity dedicated to God and as spouses of Jesus Christ.

A consecrated virgin lives as a Sacramental–a sign of Christ’s love in the world–and remains dedicated to the mission of the Church through apostolates chosen by her and the bishop for the rest of her life.  Celeste’s free time is devoted to serving families and priests in whatever way God reveals. For instance she might provide child care for a family in crisis, assist a busy family with small children in many ways: moving, meals during illness, child care, etc.  She attends weekly Adoration, daily Mass, and participates in the daily Liturgy of the Hours with the entire Church.

The consecrated virgin lives in the world without a habit or community which is distinctly from the consecrated life of a sister, brother or nun.  She provides for her own income but remains open to the needs of the diocese through the wishes of the bishop.

All in all, it’s a unique and fruitful vocation

And we are very blessed in the Denver diocese to have several consecrated virgins.  They are generous, courageous and from them flows the special love of “spiritual motherhood” that Blessed John Paul II called the “genius of woman.”

I’ll post again to talk about our book club night and party last week.  Happy Anniversary Celeste!

Do you have the rite of Consecrated Virgins Living in the World in your diocese?  And if you’d like to say “Happy Anniversary” please leave a comment!

How Does Marriage Work?

  The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) paragraph 1604 states that, “Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man.”

Ideally! Yet we have found in much of our reading as well as in life itself that marriage can be extremely difficult and sometimes seem impossible.  This is because sin, which manifests itself in a “spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation” has entered marriage just a surely has it has entered into creation. (CCC 1606)

Most of us who have been married for any length of time know this must be true

It does become apparent that it is humanly impossible for a husband and wife to “[follow] Christ, [renounce] themselves, and [take] up their crosses” while the marriage covenant remains “indissoluble.”  (CCC 1615)

Wedding_Feast_at_Cana_Maerten_de_Vos_

Wedding Feast at Cana: Jesus turned water into wine

But what seems impossible to us is never impossible to God!

Through the visit of Jesus and His mother Mary to a wedding feast in the town of Cana (John 2:1-11) marriage was raised to a Sacrament: a “confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence.” (CCC 1614)

June is the month for marriage

Tons of my friends have had anniversaries this month, and my anniversary is in June (33 years this year).  So the final posts for June will be about marriage; in the context of our book club selections of course! Through the fictional, historical and biographical writings of Catholic women from many cultures and time periods we’ve seen evidence again and again that marriage can be a nightmare or a source of great joy, but either way one or both members have found hope in relying on Christ for their strength.

Dr. Alice von Hildebrand is a Catholic woman philosopher, theologian and author

She has written volumes about marriage (among other topics).  Her essay The Meaning and Purpose of Marriage masterfully continues her deceased husband Dietrich’s “mission of highlighting the role that love should play in marriage.”

Author Alice von Hildebrand: we read one of her many books in 2005

Author Alice von Hildebrand: we read one of her many books in 2005

We read By Loved Refined: Letters to a Young Bride in 2005

It’s a wise little journal packed with letters of advice to a newly married woman from a more experienced friend.  Wives young and old will find a myriad of ways to persevere in love, but be forewarned; you can’t bring your pride.

By-Love-Refined

Over the weekend I’ll post some lessons on marriage from Dr. Hildebrand’s book.