The following story appeared in the June 9 Idaho Catholic Register.
By Emily Woodham
COTTONWOOD – Julie Ferraro loved writing stories from the time she was young. “I started writing fiction as a youngster on an old Smith-Corona typewriter,” Ferraro said. “The enjoyment of telling stories translated easily into high school journalism, then to newspapers.”
Her passion for writing and her many travels around the country eventually led her to appointment as the new marketing and communications specialist and media relations coordinator for the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood.
Her training in journalism is “hands-on,” she said, with no college background. She has worked in newsrooms and has done freelance writing for secular and religious publications, including the South Bend Tribune, Today’s Catholic (the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocesan paper), the National Catholic Register, The Times-News in Twin Falls and the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello.
“My editors on secular publications had me doing everything from courts and crimes to health, to breaking news, education, local government, obituaries and car shows,” she said. “Being able to both engage and inform readers is a true joy for me.”
After working full-time while raising her four sons, Ferraro said she wanted to use
her writing skills to “give back.” Julie Ferraro In 2012, she was accepted into a full-time volunteer program with the Franciscan friars in California. She spent a year at Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside as museum director, “wading through their archives to do a complete inventory of the thousands of marvelous artifacts,” she said.
While in California, she met the Sisters of St. Francis from Clinton, Iowa. After her year of service at the mission, she then went to the Sisters of St. Francis motherhouse where she was a photographer and served in technical capacities. “I lived in community with the Sisters, and enjoyed learning about them and writing a history of the com-munity drawn from the early, hand-written chronicles,” she said.
She then volunteered at the office of a Franciscan mission in the Navajo Nation, a large geographic area that encompasses the “Four Corners” of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.
“The poverty was so heart-wrenching, but the culture incredibly beautiful,” she said. While there, she also worked at the mission’s museum and became the provincial director of communications.
When Ferraro’s youngest son was deployed to the Far East, she took two years to help care for her two youngest grandchildren. When he returned, she went back to working in newsrooms, which brought her to Twin Falls. While in Idaho, she began writing for the Monastery of the Ascension in Jerome and visited the Monastery of St. Gertrude. “I was incredibly moved by the spirit of the Sisters and their ministries,” she said.
She took some more time to care for grandchildren and then decided to take personal time at a house of discernment in Pittsburgh. However, St. Gertrude’s remained in the back of her mind, which led to applying for the position of hospitality coordinator at the Spirit Center at the monastery. Given her background in communication and journalism, the Sisters at the Spirit Center believed she might be a good fit for the position of marketing and communications director, also open at the time.
She was hired by Prioress Sister Mary Forman. Ferraro arrived less than a week before Sister Mary died in April.
In addition to her writing, Ferraro sings and plays guitar, piano and organ. A lifelong Catholic who attended Catholic schools for 9 years, she has been assisting with music and lecturing at Mass and other liturgical services since she was 11. She also has served as a sacristan, liturgist and has trained altar servers.
Her favorite devotion is Lectio Divina and being out in nature, she said, “a blend of Benedictine and Franciscan influence.”
For fun, she enjoys old movies, reading and writing fiction. Among her favorite authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexandre Dumas, Robert Louis Stevenson and Jules Verne. She also enjoys discovering new authors. “When I have time, I write book reviews of new releases for various publications.”
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