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.

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