Sister Julie Marie Thorpe

Julie Marie, SNDdeN, attended high school at Notre Dame High School in Belmont, Calif. After high school, she enrolled in San Jose State University where she thoroughly enjoyed college life!

The idea of becoming a Sister was something Sister Julie would consider and then ignore. However, the "Sister idea" never went away.

After she graduated from San Jose State, Sister Julie entered the novitiate at Saratoga, Calif. on the hottest day of the year, donned a black habit and thought, "I'm here and I'm staying."

And stay she did—for 70 years and counting!

For the first 10 years, Sister Julie happily taught elementary school classes, including five years at Notre Dame School in Belmont, then a College of Notre Dame demonstration school.

In 1964, she became principal for the first time at Notre Dame Elementary School in Chico. Sister Julie loved the experience and families in Chico, and remembers that sometimes tuition was paid in produce and dairy products!

Sister Julie also enjoyed five years as the Director of Postulants and Novice Director, then served at several schools eventually as principal at Notre Dame Elementary School in San Francisco for nine years.

While Principal of Notre Dame School, Chico in 1967, Sister Julie Marie Thorpe, SNDdeN accepted a flag flown over the White House that was awarded by the American Legion.

Sister Julie considers her time in San Francisco a "career high" because she, who was principal of the girls school, and Sister Noreen Cain, who was principal of the boys school, combined the two K-8th grade school into one and it was a great success!

She also found her time there to be a great way to fulfill a call to work with the poor. The disadvantaged have always had a place in Sister Julie Marie's heart, and during a period of discernment this concern later led her much further afield.

Sister Julie returned to classroom teaching for six delightful years in Santa Barbara, Calif. and spent some summer sessions teaching catechism and doing pastoral ministry in Alaska. She fell in love with the native people, so when the local bishop asked her to serve there full time she accepted.

Sister Julie Marie Thorpe, SNDdeN, while ministering in Alaska

For eight years, this "Californian Sister" (who has a fondness for warm, sunny weather) called Alaska home. Five of those years were spent living in remote Hooper Bay. There she trained Eucharistic ministers, assisted deacons in funerals and baptisms, provided counsel and served in a thousand different ways, including being a "first responder" after suicides and accidents.

This time with the Yup'ik people—surviving in the harsh climate and living without running water—was a life-changing experience in many ways.

"God's presence was very real in those beautiful people," says Sister Julie.

(She also highly recommends moose meat!)

When health issues forced Sister Julie to return to the lower 48 to be closer to medical care, she joined the staff at the Notre Dame House of Prayer in Carmel, Calif., helping others on their path to spiritual renewal. During this time, she also worked at an after-school program in Pajaro, Calif. for children of agricultural field workers and taught English as a second language to parents.

Sister Julie Marie is now retired, calls living at the Province Center in Belmont, Calif. "a gift" and is thankful for her life. She feels that she has received so much more from her work with those in need than she gave and wouldn't change a moment of it!

Sister Julie Marie's Ministries

1955Teacher, Grade 1, St. Lucy Elementary School, Campbell, Calif.
1955-56Teacher, Grades 1&4, St. Lucy Elementary School, Campbell, Calif.
1956-59Teacher, Grades 3&7, Junipero Serra Elementary School, Carmel, Calif.
1959-64Teacher, Grade 7, Notre Dame Elementary School, Belmont, Calif.
1964-67Superior/Principal and Teacher, Grade 9, Notre Dame Elementary School, Chico, Calif.
1967-68Postulant Director, Provincial House, Saratoga, Calif.
1968-69Postulant/Novice Director, Provincial House, Saratoga, Calif.
1969-70Teacher, Grade 6, St. Dunstan School, Millbrae, Calif.
1970-72Principal, St. Dunstan School, Millbrae, Calif.
1972-73Principal, St. Thomas More School, Lynwood, Wash.
1973-82Principal, Notre Dame Elementary School, San Francisco, Calif.
1982-88Teacher, Grade 3, Notre Dame Elementary, Santa Barbara, Calif.
1988-89Pastoral Ministry, St. Mary, Alaska
1989-94Pastoral Ministry, Hooper Bay, Alaska
1994-95Pastoral Ministry, St. Mary, Alaska
1995-97Recuperation/Sabbatical, Saratoga, Calif.
1997-2001Staff Member, SNDdeN House of Prayer, Carmel, Calif.
2001-06Director, Pajaro Tutoring Program, Watsonville, Calif.
Notre Dame Mission Volunteers-Americorps Support, Watsonville, Calif.
Student Spiritual Director, Moreland Notre Dame School, Watsonville, Calif.
2007Volunteer, Sacred Heart Nativity School, San Jose, Calif.
2005-11 Tutor to 6th-8th grade girls, Our Lady of Grace Nativity School, San Jose, Calif.
2006-11Spiritual Direction
2010-2011Volunteer Spiritual Director, Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, Calif.
2012-16Spiritual Direction; Volunteer, Notre Dame Elementary School, Belmont, Calif. and Children's Hospice
2017-to presentVolunteer, SNDdeN Province Center, Belmont, Calif.