Sister Julia Walsh is a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration and part of a new generation of Catholic Sisters. She’s often writing about the messiness of following Jesus and being Catholic and doesn’t hesitate to ask important questions.

This joyful, wild Jesus-lover can be found visiting jails, leading retreats, companioning spiritual seekers, advocating for peace, teaching about social justice, praying in the chapel or camping in the woods. 

Sister Julia has been frequently featured in the media, and is widely published. Here are just some of the publications which have featured Sister Julia’s work. 

  • Global Sisters Report
  • Living Faith Catholic Devotional
  • America
  • The Christian Century
  • St. Anthony Messenger
  • Good Letters (the Image blog)

Julia Walsh grew up on a goat farm in a small community in Northeast Iowa with her parents: Kevin and Elsie, and three siblings. As a child, she enjoyed gardening, reading, and spending time in the woods. She attended college in Iowa, starting at Wartburg College in Waverly, then ultimately transferring to Loras College to discern her vocation. While a student at Loras in Dubuque, Iowa Julia studied abroad in South Africa and realized her passion for social justice, equality and Gospel living.

In 2003 she graduated from Loras College magna cum laude with a BA in History, Secondary Education and Catholic Studies. After graduation Julia interned with the Iowa Catholic Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, and then moved to California and joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. As a Jesuit Volunteer, Julia worked with young parents and their children transitioning from homelessness to healthy interdependence at Waking the Village/Tubman House in Sacramento, California. Her experiences in South Africa, as an intern with the Iowa Catholic Conference and in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps helped her to develop her passions for Gospel-centered systemic change.

In 2006 Julia entered the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, (FSPA) based in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She entered the novitiate and received the name Sister in 2007. She professed first vows in 2009 and perpetual vows in 2015.

Sister Julia began her teaching ministry at Catholic high schools in Chicago where she lived and served from 2008 to 2012. In 2012, Sister Julia moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin to be closer to her community’s motherhouse and minister at Aquinas High School, where she served as a theology teacher until 2016.

In the fall of 2016, Sister Julia joined the staff of Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center on Trout Lake in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she presented programs and retreats and served as a freelance writer. In August 2017, Sister Julia graduated from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago with a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies.

Sister Julia returned to Chicago in August 2019 and became a certified spiritual director though the Claret Center in May 2020. That same year, she joined her congregation’s formation team, serving women who are discerning their vocation. In 2021 she co-founded The Fireplace, an intentional community and house of hospitality on Chicago’s southside that offers spiritual support to artists and activists. 

In addition to writing, serving as a spiritual director, companioning people who are discerning their vocations, facilitating retreats, and managing Messy Jesus Business blog and podcast, Sister Julia also volunteers at Kolbe House, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Jail Ministry Center.

Sister Julia enjoys hiking, camping, watching movies, gardening, creating and taking in art, cooking, traveling and spending time with her community, family and friends. On a sunny day in Chicago she can be found riding her bicycle throughout the city and writing poetry about her relationship with God.

Sister Julia
photo by colleen neel