sister juliana feld

September 25, 1934 - November 1, 2015

A positive, gentle woman who lived simply and was attentive to each person she met

S. Juliana Marie loved telling stories, remembering details long after most had forgotten them. A greater love, though, was the poor, especially children. She never forgot her own experiences. During a time when her family lost their rental space, they found themselves sleeping in a park. In the midst of adversity, S. Juliana developed a resilience that enabled her to overcome difficulties and remain joyful and other-centered throughout her life.

Rita Marie Feld was born in Carroll, Iowa, September 25, 1934, to Joseph and Josephine Dobberstein Feld. Two- year-old Jerry and one-year-old Don greeted her arrival. Mary arrived a year and a half later. Her mother told Rita that in the morning their father would put a big pot on the stove to boil diapers, then rinsed and hung them up before he left for work!

Their dad farmed, but couldn’t earn enough to support the family. In the middle of Rita’s kindergarten year, they moved to St. Louis, Missouri, settling in St. Thomas of Aquin Parish where she met the Sisters of St. Joseph. Later she attended Rosati-Kain High school. During high school, she worked in the newborn nursery at St. Anthony Hospital. (Franciscan sisters staffed the hospital, Notre Dame and St. Joseph, Rosati.)

Though Mary talked about becoming a religious, Rita hoped to marry and have ten children! When she realized that maybe religious life was her calling, it was difficult choosing a community, she really liked each one she knew.

The pastor at her parish suggested she wait a year—partly because her brothers had both been drafted and he thought that it would be very hard on her parents to have another child leave home. She was still undecided on which community.

She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on September 15, 1953, receiving the habit and the name, S. Juliana Marie on March 19, 1954. S. Juliana’s first 10 years of ministry were spent at schools in Missouri: St. Anthony, Nativity, and St. Gregory. 

In 1966 she went to St. John’s, Green Bay, Wisconsin. By 1970, her father’s health was poor. Since local superiors were meeting in St. Louis—a long weekend trip—her pastor suggested she take the opportunity to visit her family. On the way, the sisters were in an accident in Oshkosh. Among S. Juliana’s multiple injuries was a broken back. Eventually returning to Green Bay by ambulance, she continued a long road to recovery. At the end of the school year, she returned to St. Anthony’s arriving in her steel brace, unable to bend or even bathe herself. 

When her brother Don was transferred to California, he urged his parents, both of whom had health issues, to come out there where there was a better climate. In 1975, S. Juliana, concerned about her mother’s health, got permission to be there for her parents. She was also able to find work in our schools. In 1976, when her mother was better, she was assigned to St. Mary’s in Colorado, which she loved. In 1986, she was back in California, teaching. In the ensuing years, her Dad died, then brother Don who had Lou Gehrig’s disease, and finally her Mom.

S. Juliana returned to St. Louis to teach at St. Margaret of Scotland in 1992. She continued to live there when she later worked at Childgarden School in 1975 and when she became a caregiver for CSJ Care in 2000.

By 2004, Julie’s health was deteriorating and she retired to Carondelet where she was involved in many activities until 2008 when she moved to Nazareth Living Center.

S. Helen Oates

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