Sister Mary Julia Cummings
“Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” (Psalm 23:1)
“Psalm 23 was the psalm we sang at Liturgy this morning for the Feast of All Souls, and it seems appropriate to pray it again this afternoon. The Feast of All Souls is not a time for mourning, but a time for remembering, and this afternoon we remember Sister Mary Julia Cummings, who died last Wednesday, Oct. 28,” said Sister Margaret Quinlan in her commentary for Sister Mary Julia.
Wilma Jane Cummings was born Feb. 3, 1922, in New Albany, Ind., to William and Julia (Ricke) Cummings. One of eight children, she was educated at Holy Trinity Grade School, New Albany.
“Her dear sister, Sister Mary Pat, says that Sister Mary Julia was destined to be the leader of one part of the Cummings family of eight. She was the third child, with four sisters and three brothers, and at an early age, their mother appointed Sister Mary Julia head of the second section of the eight children. The middle ones thought she was fantastic, a tribute to her leadership. Sister Mary Pat said, ‘We followed her like little chicks and thought she was the most wonderful person we knew,’” shared Sister Margaret.
For secondary school Sister Mary Julia attended Providence Juniorate at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Sister Mary Julia entered the Congregation Jan. 5, 1939, and professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1941, and 1947, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, a master’s degree in education administration from Indiana State University and another master’s degree in religious education from Spalding University in Louisville, Ky.
Sister Mary Julia ministered more than three decades in primary education as either a teacher or principal. She commenced at St. Mel-Holy Ghost, Chicago, in 1941. In Chicago, she also taught at St. David. In Indiana, she ministered at St. Ann and St. Margaret Mary, Terre Haute; St. Francis Xavier, Vincennes; St. Charles, Peru; St. Paul, Sellersburg; St. Charles, Bloomington; and Catholic Central, New Albany. Sister Mary Julia also spent nine years at Corpus Christi, Oklahoma City.
For two years in the late 1970s, Sister Mary Julia served in parish ministry at St. Bartholomew Parish, Columbus, Ind., and St. Mary Parish, Navilleton, Ind. From 1980 to 1992, she ministered as the director of the Learning Center at St. John, Newburgh, Ind. Sister Mary Julia then spent six years as a parish minister of care at Immaculate Conception Parish, Chicago, before returning to the Woods in 1998.
“Sisters Mary Julia and Mary Pat enjoyed traveling together — to Las Vegas or Florida to visit siblings and to England, France and Italy. In her folder in Archives was a memento of her having attended the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia in 1976, so that must have been memorable for her, too,” continued Sister Margaret.
“Sister Mary Julia once described herself in this way: ‘I feel I show love and care as a regular, ordinary person.’ Her friends with whom I spoke said the same thing. One described a difficult situation she, the person telling the story, was having. But Sister Mary Julia, just by being herself, fair and nonjudgmental, helped the sister in difficulty. Another friend described her as ‘quiet and unassuming,’” said Sister Margaret.
“Sister Mary Pat described Sister Mary Julia in this way: ‘She was the perfect big sister. She was always there for me, as she was for anyone else who needed her. She did her job willingly, very well, and was always dependable. What more could a little sister wish for?’” shared Sister Margaret.
“Sister Mary Pat continued: ‘I watched her go through her long and debilitating illness until she was reduced to helplessness. The nurses and aides always loved her uncomplaining and accepting ways, and they were always there for her. We, and I, personally, owe them a debt of gratitude,’” said Sister Margaret.
Sister Margaret concluded her commentary with the following words: “And let us end with Sister Mary Pat’s words, ‘Sister Mary Julia, I love you. I thank you for the gift of you, and someday we will meet again in the paradise of joy and love and praise. God bless and keep you.”
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Mary Julia was celebrated Nov. 3, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by her sister, Sister Mary Pat, and two brothers, Bill of Las Vegas and Joe of Louisville, Ky.
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I was on a pilgrimage with Sister Mary Julia and Sister Mary Pat Cummings. Her eyes were so wide when we met Pope St. John Paul II. In Assisi, we hurriedly left one bus for another, and Sr. Julia left her camera behind. Mary Pat thought it was lost forever. We went to the local police and described the mishap. Sr. Mary Pat still said: “You’ll never see that camera again.” Julia said: “Mary pat, where is your faith?” Wouldn’t you know, about 3-4 years later, it showed up at their convent in Chicago!