Julie Onderko has been married for 34 years to Tom. They belong to Christ the King Parish in Milwaukie, Oregon. They are blessed with three grown sons and five grandchildren. Julie’s past experiences include being a stay-at-home mom, a free-lance writer, a youth minister, and a real estate broker. Currently, she is the Director of Faith Formation at The Madeleine Parish in NE Portland, Oregon.
She holds a bachelors degree in Theology and is currently enrolled in the Graduate School of Theology at the Augustine Institute.
Julie is the founder the apostolate, CATHOLIC FINISH STRONG. She is a speaker for the apostolate and offers a variety of presentations and retreats and can be contacted through the website: CatholicFinishStrong.org
Michele interview Julie about her book Discover Your Next Mission from God.
MICHELE: I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the lives of some of the more obscure saints, blesseds, intercessors – such as Margaret Clitherow, Josephine Bakhita, Roger, Wrenno, Jan Tyranowski and Franz Jagerstatter, how did you discover them or how did they find their way to you?
JULIE ONDERKO: This almost goes without saying, but I prayed asking for guidance from the Holy Spirit as to which saints should be included. I also asked my guardian angel and all the saints that I had come to know and love to help direct me.
Saints, blessed, venerables, and servants of God would come across my path in one way or another and peak my interest—perhaps it was a quote I read or some tidbit I heard on the radio. Often, in learning about one saint, I would be introduced to someone previously unknown to me. This was the case with John Paul II and Jan Tyranowski.
When I thought the book was done and ready to turn in, I experienced an incredible miracle through the intercession of Saint Joseph. Previously, I really did not know too much about him. But again, one of the other saints led me to him—Saint Teresa of Avila. She promoted devotion to Saint Joseph and encouraged people who did not believe in his intercession to “try” him (in some translation the word is “test”). I came across her quote at a particular time of very serious need. So I did as she suggested and asked Saint Joseph to intercede. The miracle healing that resulted was undeniable! That is why Chapter 11 features our Spiritual Father—Saint Joseph.
MICHELE: The Litany of Humility, and your explanation of humility as the “essential ingredient” in seeking God’s will and discovering our mission was one of my favorite parts of your book. How would you feel about writing an entire book to dedicated to exploring humility?
JULIE ONDERKO: I am certainly open to it. If God wants me to write a book exploring humility—I will do it.
MICHELE: Another part of your book that really spoke to me was the section on St. Therese of Lisieux… I have read a great deal about St. Therese and her “Little Way” but I have never read anything similar to the way you explained it as a “private affair.”
“God’s will in our lives-our mission- sometimes is a very private affair. It may seem as if nothing supernatural is happening when spiritual battles are waged and souls are won for God, but He knows. What if our mission is to be a prayer warrior and spend much of our time interceding on behalf of others? That mission is not going to be obvious to others. And it is the same if God has asked us to unite our pains, sorrows, and trials with His Passion to save souls.”
I was amazed at the question “What if our mission is to be a prayer warrior and spend much of our time interceding on behalf of others?” I have never read that anywhere (and I read A LOT!)…. I am wondering if you could speak to that in more detail, because for many years I believe that has been a significant part of God’s mission for me- so much so, that in many ways I lead the life of a cloistered, contemplative nun while being a wife, mother and grandmother.
JULIE ONDERKO: What I mean by a “private affair” is that our mission may not be apparent to others. In the convent where St. Therese lived, the other nuns did not realize the extent of her sanctity. Those closest to her (in proximity I mean) did not see it. So in this way it was “private.” Yet she embraced her mission and after her death it became public and we are all privileged to know it and share in her “Little Way.” Many people live holy lives in total cooperation with God’s will and no one realizes it. In heaven these holy souls will know the fruit of their missions!
MICHELE: Along that same line… the chapter entitled “Embrace Your Mission-at Any Age” brought out some great points about the elderly or the infirmed still being capable of serving God. I like where you said “What if our mission is to do nothing?” in reference to them. What a great insight!
I know many old and/or ill folks who think their lives are over – if they only understood the honor and dignity that is theirs and the important role they could have to serve as an intercessor through their prayers and offering up their pain. Any further comment or suggestion on how to convey this message to them? They could be doing so much even though it looks like they are doing nothing!
JULIE ONDERKO: Often those who are aging and suffering do not unite their pain with the redemptive work Jesus did on the Cross. Bishop Fulton Sheen lamented the “wasted suffering” when he would pass by a hospital. He knew that some of the most important work for the salvation of souls could be done from a hospital bed. We are invited to share in the redemptive work of Christ with our own suffering—what an amazing privilege!
I highly recommend Pope John Paul II’s “Letter to the Elderly.” It is short and easy to read and very encouraging. In this personal letter, the Pope shares much of himself in an effort to connect with those who are aging and feeling less useful in life. This short read helps us to see our part in God’s plan regardless of age or ability. We all have our mission, even when (or especially when) we are dying.
MICHELE: Time for our signature ending CBB question. This is a blog about books. What books are currently on your bookshelf to read?
JULIE ONDERKO: Onward Catholic Soldier: Spiritual Warfare According to Scripture, the Church and the Saints by John LaBriola
Autobiography of a Hunted Priestby John Gerard, S.J.
My Other Self: Conversations with Christ on Living Your Faith by Clarence Enzler