Sr Julia Lourey sm was called to eternal life on Tuesday 20th December 2022.
Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord.
May perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.
We extend our prayerful sympathy to the Marist Sisters in Australia and to Sr Julia’s family.
At her funeral on Friday 30th December the following words of remembrance were delivered by Sr Carmel Murray sm.
When Sr. Julia, baptised Patricia Bridget Lourey, was asked recently to name some of the
highlights of her life, the first one she mentioned was her First Holy Communion Day, 24 th
September, 1930, when she said she danced all the way to the church with lots of turns, and
her veil flying out around her. This is a delightful image to have as we come today to farewell our much loved Sr. Julia, 99 years and 9 months young. This joy in living was to bring smiles and laughter into the lives of the many people whom Julia met on her long and varied journey as a Marist Sister, and she did this simply by being true to the person she was.
Julia was born in Marrickville on 20 th March, 1923, the eldest child of Patrick and Rita Lourey; she was baptised in Lewisham, but her heart belonged to Mudgee, a country town in New South Wales, where she grew up in a family of 10 children, 2 girls and 8 boys. Here
she enjoyed the love and security of a big family, where the faith of her parents was alive in their midst and was the guiding principle of their lives. Naturally, this family had many challenges to face in those days of the Great Depression and later the war years, but
whenever Julia spoke of her early years, it was with sheer delight in belonging to such a loving and exuberant family. This love of family was to stay with her all her days. She always referred to her mother as ‘her wonderful little Mother’, and took great pleasure in recalling all the pranks that her brothers used to get up to, often at the expense of her ‘little Mother’. I have no doubt that Julia herself took a leading role in these capers.
On leaving school, Julia became a subsidised teacher for three years and then a receptionist and telephonist. By this time she was living back in Lewisham, but at the age of 33 she heard the call to religious life, and entered the Marist Sisters, Merrylands, in 1954. The Novitiate period must have been quite challenging as she was considerably older than the other novices. But her faith was deep and strong and with an ability to find humour in most difficult situations, she persevered and was professed on 23 rd January, 1956.
Julia’s life experiences prior to her entering religious life were to support her in the varied ministries she engaged in during her many years as a religious. She clung to the strong faith that she had imbibed in her early years; it was evident that Jesus and Mary were very much part of her being. In her funeral booklet, she states that ‘The only treasure worth striving for in life is Jesus. He comes to us in many guises”.
Combined with this love of Jesus and Mary was a strong love and commitment to all things Marist. Julia could be quite a formidable woman in her religious views and did not take kindly to change, but her sense of humour and openness to and compassion for people
overcame any tendency to be too dogmatic. After First Profession as a Marist Sister, Julia taught in St. Margaret Mary’s Primary School
and later was appointed Principal. In 1972, she was appointed Education Supervisor for the Marist Sisters Primary Schools. She believed in traditional teaching methods and held high expectations of teachers and students. She also engaged in teaching ministries in Woolwich and Gladstone., Queensland, and then pastoral work in Mackay, Blacktown and Merrylands.
Teaching boys was her speciality and many the tales she spun of the exploits of her boys, always with much humour and exaggeration in the telling. Having grown up in a household of boys, she knew lots about various sports, and it was no surprise to see her coaching a Rugby League football team at St. Margaret Mary’s. Her boys revered her and some kept in contact over the years. When Julia was a resident in John Woodward Aged Care Apartments in Merrylands, some of her former students from those early days even visited her there. It was during her teaching days that Julia’s gift for ministering to families became evident. Her down-to-earth approach, together with a common touch and empathy with struggling families, drew people to her. A willingness to listen and understand their situations gave them great comfort and strength. Her sense of humour also helped. Many families in Merrylands, Gladstone and Mackay all attest to this.
When her teaching days were over, Julia spent 10 happy years in Mackay, doing pastoral work among the school families and enjoying chaplaincy work with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She loved life in Queensland but returned to Merrylands to become Community leader and also to do some pastoral work among the residents of Gilroy Village. Later in Blacktown she ministered mainly among the senior parishioners. And during all these years, Julia lived with some serious health issues, the recurring one being a very bad back.
On retirement, Julia was appointed to Marian House. Here, she was always a willing listener for those who needed encouragement or just a chat. She had a flourishing telephone ministry and enjoyed crocheting items for family and the sisters. She would often compose
verses for significant occasions, e.g. Jubilees, birthdays. She carried with her this great love of people when she moved into care in the John Woodward Apartments, in Merrylands. Residents and staff shared their joys and problems with her and left with spirits uplifted. On a lighter note, she who normally disdained Bingo, actually became a Caller, bringing laughter with her witty approach.
Julia was a faithful and faith-filled Marist sister who throughout her long life spread the joy of discipleship wherever she went. To the last she was true to her God and never doubted that He would always be true to her and would welcome her into Paradise with open arms. I finish with her own verse: ‘ Memory of Me’.
MEMORY OF ME – Julia Lourey.
I’d like the Memory of me,
To be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow
Of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo
Whispering softly down the ways
Of happy times and laughing times
And bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve
To dry before the sun
Of happy memories I leave
When my life is done.
Well, at least heaven will be well-ordered once Julia is there! Watch out God!