Annunciation fifth graders write, illustrate children’s book about Julia Greeley

Moira Cullings

When members of the Julia Greeley Guild visited the fifth-grade class at Annunciation Catholic School in Denver, they mentioned their hope of someone writing a children’s book about Julia.

“They asked, ‘Do you know anyone who would want to write a children’s book?’” said fifth-grade teacher Maggie Ellis. “I said, ‘Well, we can.’

“My class is very artistic and they’re very creative,” she said.

From October 2018 until February 2019, Ellis’s class wrote and illustrated a hardcover children’s book about Julia’s life, called Julia Greeley: Denver’s Angel of Charity. They presented a copy to Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila at the St. John Paul II Center May 31.

“It gives me great joy to see their interest in Julia Greeley because she is such a great example of a very simple, humble woman who lived the Gospel and had a deep love for Jesus Christ, who lived her life as a true authentic disciple,” said the archbishop.

The fifth-grade class at Annunciation Catholic School presented Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila a children’s book they wrote and illustrated about Julia Greeley. Photo by Moira Cullings

“And it really helps the children see that it is possible for them, too, to live our faith in Christ.”

For Mary Leisring, Director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry and President of the Julia Greeley Guild, the students’ achievement is moving.

“It almost takes your breath away because here’s a group of fifth graders that are able to get it, about all the things that [Julia] did, what she represented and everything,” she said.

“And then to publish a book with photographs that they themselves drew — something like this is just God sent.”

Julieta Ochoa is a member of the class who served with a fellow classmate as project manager, designed the book cover and helped with another picture inside the book, as well as one of the paragraphs.

“It was really special to see that my drawing was on the cover,” she said.

Archbishop Aquila was inspired by the students’ efforts to share with other young people the life of Julia Greeley, who is on her way to sainthood. Photo by Moira Cullings

Throughout the project, Ochoa was most inspired by Julia’s actions in the midst of her suffering.

“She had arthritis through all her bones, yet she managed to go up and down the streets and give people things even though it probably hurt a lot,” she said.

Ellis hopes the book can inspire even more children the way it did her students.

“I think they were so amazed about how she’s this slave who started with nothing, started with so much pain and trauma, and grew up to be someone who, [although] the pain wasn’t washed away, was able to use her life in service to others,” said Ellis.

“I just feel really proud of them and really hopeful that they can see there is someone who experienced great pain who did something incredible with their life, and they can do that, too.”

If you are interesting in purchasing a copy of Julia Greeley: Denver’s Angel of Charity, email Maggie Ellis at maggie.ellis@annunciationk8.org.

COMING UP: Repenting and renewing our role as shepherds

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Jesus tells the disciples in St. John’s Gospel, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep,” contrasting his goodness with the thieves who come only to steal and destroy.  This past week my fellow U.S. bishops and I sought to act as good shepherds by approving three measures to increase our vigilance and prevention of the evil of sexual abuse by bishops, shepherds who have betrayed the flock entrusted to them.

This last weekend we celebrated Father’s Day, which should remind biological and spiritual fathers of their great responsibility of protecting and raising up new life. This mission is further emphasized by the Rite for the Ordination of a Bishop, which says, “In the Church entrusted to you, be a faithful steward, moderator and guardian of the mysteries of Christ. Since you are chosen by the Father to rule over his family, be mindful always of the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep and is known by them, and who did not hesitate to lay down his life for them.” This is the model for all bishops.

But the scandals of Theodore McCarrick, Bishop Bransfield and others have made it clear that our vigilance has not been adequate. To quote from the just-issued “Affirming Our Episcopal Commitment” statement, “We, the bishops of the United States, have heard the anger expressed by so many within and outside of the Church over these failures.  The anger is justified; it has humbled us, prompting us into self-examination, repentance, and a desire to do better.” This sentiment was clear in my interactions with my fellow bishops in Baltimore this past week.

As evidence of our commitment, we overwhelmingly passed a set of directives for the bishops’ conference to implement Pope Francis’ Vos estis lux mundi document on handling abuse by priests and bishops. These directives include the creation by May 31, 2020 of a third-party phone and online system that receives reports of potential violations by bishops, the establishment of a protocol in which the Holy See designates and authorizes metropolitan archbishops to investigate cases of alleged abuse by bishops, and the expectation that the investigating bishop involve lay experts in assisting with these inquiries. For any investigations that falls under my jurisdiction, I will ensure that lay experts are involved, as I’ve done throughout my time as a bishop. As the new directives indicate, I will also appoint a lay person to receive complaints from the third-party reporting system, publicize how to make reports, ascertain the credibility of reports and gather any additional information necessary for an investigation to commence.

I also want to highlight that the bishops overwhelmingly approved protocols for imposing limitations on former bishops who were removed from office for grave reasons and that we adopted a code of conduct for bishops, which explicitly states that the Dallas Charter will now include bishops.

All these measures are in addition to those we have been enforcing since 2002 in relation to preventing sexual abuse of minors by priests. The Archdiocese of Denver has a strong track record of actively working to protect children, including annual audits, background checks of employees and clergy, and a code of conduct that previous bishops and I have all signed, and a robust training program aimed at fostering safe environments for children. The effectiveness of these measures over the past 20 years has made us a model for other institutions seeking to combat abuse.

Pope Francis rightly noted in a January 2019 personal letter to the U.S. bishops that the consequences of our failures cannot be fixed by being administrators of new programs or committees.  They can only be resolved by humility, listening, self-examination and conversion.

My brother bishops and I hope that by obeying the Word of God, seeking the will of the Father and embracing what the Church expects of us, we will imitate Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Read more

Pope Francis’ motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi can be read at: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/motu_proprio/documents/papa-francesco-motu-proprio-20190507_vos-estis-lux-mundi.html

The USCCB Directives implementing Vos estis can be read at: http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/2019-june-meeting/upload/usccb-modified-amended-directives-2019-06.pdf

Reach out

Christi Sullivan serves as the Protection Specialist for the Office of Child and Youth Protection and can be reached at 303-715-3241 or Christi.Sullivan@archden.org.

Victims of abuse can reach out to Dr. Jim Langley, the Victim Assistance Coordinator, at 720-239-2832 or Victim.Assistance@ArchDen.org.