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Joining the Sacred Walk

by Jean Parietti

 

Sister Julie Codd feels privileged to journey with Native people

Sister Julie pulls out her phone, scrolling through the photos and proudly showing off her handful of “adopted” Native families.

They include the extended family of Violet Baird, a Sioux woman who was Sister Julie’s right hand at the Chief Seattle Club. “We just had the baptism of her two great-granddaughters” and the first Communion of her three great-grandsons at St. Leo’s in Tacoma, Sister Julie said. “I’ve been able to work with them and get them into Catholic school.”

Glancing at Sister Julie’s datebook, it appears nearly every day has something needing her attention. Besides helping her adopted families when she can, the 78-year-old is working with her community’s elderly sisters and the congregation’s associate programs. About three years ago, Sister Julie was invited to join the board of Mother Nation, a nonprofit for Native women recovering from abuse and addiction.

Her strong connection to the Native community brought her a role in the 2006 miraculous cure of Jake Finkbonner, a 5-year-old Lummi tribal member suffering from flesh-eating bacteria. Sister Julie helped arrange for a relic of then-Blessed Kateri to be brought to Jake’s Seattle hospital bed by her friend Sister Kateri Mitchell, a Sister of St. Anne and executive director of the national Tekakwitha Conference for indigenous Catholics. After the relic was placed on Jake and prayers were said, he began recovering.

“It was very beautiful to be that close to a miracle,” Sister Julie said of the event that resulted in Blessed Kateri’s canonization in October 2012.

Sister Julie’s ministry to Native Americans continues to be defined by “her great love for the people and admiration for their culture,” said Sister Liz, who works alongside Sister Julie as a Native catechist. Sister Julie has always felt that “the church needs the Native people; they have so much to give us and to contribute,” Sister Liz added.

As she approaches 40 years since beginning her ministry with Native people, Sister Julie reflects on the privilege of journeying with them in faith: “I feel richer for having walked with them.”

 

This article was published in the November 2017 issue of the Northwest Catholic. Click here to read the full story.

Joining the Sacred Walk
Photo: Stephen Brashear

"The Spirit sounds herself in so many voices: sometimes Her whisper is persuasive and easy to follow; sometimes Her cry is fiery and threatening. But She must be listened to."

Dorothy Vidulich, CSJP