Get to know Providence Associate Julia Lopez-Kaley
Tell us about yourself: Where you are from, family, career, etc.
I currently live on Dakota and Anishinaabe land, also known as St. Paul, Minnesota. Born in central Minnesota, half of my childhood was spent in a small, rural town called St. Joseph. The second half I lived in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music therapy from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. I currently work for a hospice in the Twin Cities area. It is a privilege to be with individuals and families at end-of-life. I provide support, presence, deep empathy and collaborative music experiences during often intimate, challenging and beautiful moments in a person’s transition to what is next.
What are you passionate about and why?
I am passionate about the human experience, human connection and the responsibilities that all humans hold to care for and respect each other and Creation. I believe that continued personal growth, growth of collective consciousness and the dismantling of oppressive systems is essential to the world’s health. Finding balance is often challenging for me. So, I continue to strive to find meaning in stillness, rest and personal creativity.
List three things that someone who wants to get to know you should understand about you.
1. I cherish interacting with those who hold different perspectives, beliefs, backgrounds and experiences.
2. I enjoy humor and goofiness as much as deep, honest conversations.
3. Baked goods with a hot drink are my love language. (Second to good company). If good company and tasty consumables are present, I’m there.
What are your favorite ways to spend your time?
I enjoy time with my partner, close friends and family, as well as time spent alone. And I love trying new foods, traveling to new or beloved places and attending concerts. I also love just sitting in a shared space with family or friends and enjoying laughter, conversation, food, warm drinks and togetherness.
I love being outside — hiking, gardening, swimming, lying in the grass — any experience providing the means to a deeper connection to Earth and Creation. And I also love pottery, baking, knitting, sewing, reading or playing with my sassy cat, Ethel.
What drew you to the Providence Associate relationship?
I have learned so much from the Sisters of Providence since arriving at the Woods in 2006. So many Providence women have been instrumental in helping me learn, explore and navigate connection with Spirit, as well as discerning my personal vocation. It is my love of the Sisters of Providence, Mother Theodore, and my shared values with the Providence Community that drew me to officially become a Providence Associate several years ago.
Tell us about your experience as a Providence Associate. In what ways is the relationship life giving?
I love having the opportunity to be a member of the Providence Community. And I value the friendships I have formed and deepened as a Providence Associate. Being an associate continues to remind me that I am part of something bigger than myself. I have a community that I am deeply connected to, even though I live at a significant distance. It is so life-giving to be reminded of meaning and purpose in life. That meaning and purpose is connected to and brought to fruition through Spirit and community.
Who was your companion in becoming a Providence Associate? Tell us about that process.
Sister Denise Wilkinson was my companion as I prepared to become a Providence Associate. She was instrumental in supporting me, challenging me and holding space for me as I learned and explored. The process included a lot of reading and reflecting upon personal beliefs, values and ways of being within the world. Denise provided support, listened attentively and answered questions that I had. But maybe just as importantly, I had the great privilege of building a deeper relationship with Denise — getting to know her, learning from her insight, experience, wisdom and honesty. This deepened connection was instrumental in the process, for me.
What does being a Providence Associate mean to you?
I do not reach deep love, equality and justice in this world without community. I do not live life independent of anything, inextricably intertwined with Earth and with each other. Being a member of the Providence community reminds me that I am not alone. And that I am dependent upon community for support and to hold me accountable. I am better and do better when I am reminded that I have a community that shares my values, vision and passion. The Providence Associates value me for who I am. I’m also reminded of my interconnectedness with and dependence on all things and beings. The Providence Community continues to remind me of the responsibility to use my privileges and abilities to demand the dismantling of oppressive systems within our world and within myself, and to work for continued healing and reconciliation.
What are your hopes for the Providence Community in the future?
I hope that the Providence Community can continue to respond to the call to serve the most vulnerable. As we strive to do the intense personal, communal, social and liberatory work that this time in history calls us to, my hope is that our values, our resolve and our relationships continue to deepen and strengthen. We need each other.
Learn more or apply to become a Providence Associate at ProvidenceAssociates.org
Thank you for such a beautifully written piece! It reminded me of how special it is to be a Providence Associate. Blessings.
Julia! You have no idea how often I think about you – with great affection. Your words make it clear that Providence is part of every fiber of your being. Thanks for once again inspiring me. Some very important questions: what hot drinks do you favor? How old is Ethel? She must be as old as I am by now.
Give your partner my greetings. Love, Denise