4.5 min readBy Published On: May 6th, 2015Categories: Features0 Comments

May 2015

Creating a Legacy

Sister Louise Kearns, SND and Sister Jean Sullivan, SND, have been improving our community by making it stronger, healthier and more vibrant, one family at a time. In 1974, the sisters founded Julie’s Family Learning Program to help women and children transform their lives through family support and education.  Named after Saint Julie Billiard – founder of the Sisters of Notre Dame – Julie’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty among low-income families by providing services that help poor, at-risk mothers and their children create stable lives and become healthy, responsible, successful, and economically self-sufficient members of their communities.  “Realizing the need of low-income single parents to garner support and education and skills to better manage their lives, I started small group meetings while working at St. Peter and Paul’s/St. Vincent’s Parish.  That was in 1974.  Julie’s Children’s House, started by Sisters Jean and Pat, joined with us to become Julie’s Family Learning Program,” says Sister Louise. 

“There are so many success stories here at Julie’s,” says Sister Jean proudly.  “Both children and mothers are educated academically, emotionally and physically. One success story – a mom with six children – all children completed high school.  One finished college and has a good job.  One owns his own business and another is a licensed beautician.  Three others are working successfully a their jobs.”  

On Thursday, May 14th the Sisters will be honored for their legacy of kindness, inspiration, commitment and dedication to the families of South Boston and beyond at a special reception and celebration.  “They’ve been a beacon of hope, a surrogate mother, friend and family to so many without judgement or apprehension.   For families here, all achievements, no matter how small, are celebrated by Jean and Louise.  In turn, we very much look forward to celebrating them on May 14th,” says Carrie Coughlin, Director of Development

The prestigious “Julie’s Angel” award will be presented to both of them.  This event will also help kick off a “legacy year” for Julie’s as it marks a transition into a second generation of leadership and builds upon its strong foundation of the programs mission.  “The  mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, worldwide, is to ‘Live and work with the poor.’  For the past 56 and 58 years, respectively, Sister Louise and Sister Jean have faithfully served that mission, many of those years right here in South Boston.  The ‘miracle’ they call Julie’s Family Learning Program has positively impacted thousands of women, children and families. The program they founded in 1974 is now recognized nationally by The Full Frame Initiative, which acknowledges the long term effectiveness of our unique and comprehensive model of family development.   It is an honor and gift to be able to work alongside such beautiful people, angels among us,  who have truly earned their wings,” says Bob Monahan, Executive Director of Julie’s.                     

Q&A with the Sister Jean and Sister Louise:

What is your favorite part about working at Julie’s: 
“One of the best parts of working at Julie’s is working with the moms and their children and seeing their love for learning, The progress made by these families is amazing and their success is a result of their effort,” says Sister Jean.
“For me it’s  the trusted relationships that are developed and the opportunity to build on the determination, strengths and motivation of each mother to make life better for her child/ren. Children 0-6 years and mothers are able to develop strong bonds and skills that open doors to successful, healthy lives,” says Sister Louise.  

How can people get involved/help at JFLP?
At Julie’s, we invite year round involvement of people donating needed money, lightly used clothes and household goods, food for our pantry, especially protein food, usable computers, children’s books, toys etc. We also invite folks with a specialized skill, (ex. cooking, yoga, tai chi, nutrition, family law, craft-making etc.) to come to Julie’s to lead a workshop for mothers /children. We would be so grateful also if someone could occasionally sponsor a trip or cultural experience that could enhance the opportunities for our families to take advantage of all that the Boston area offers, but is out of reach for them financially.

What do you love most about South Boston?
The hard work and the love of the people.  The willingness of the people to help each other and to help the program. – Sr. Jean

From my experience of living and ministering in South Boston, I have been inspired by people’s faithful care of each other that creates a strong sense of community. – Sr. Louise

Sister Jean and Sister Louise truly are angels.  The work they are doing in our community is making us stronger and healthier.  For their dedication, and for the legacy they have created in South Boston, we are truly grateful.  

The Legacy Event honoring Sister Jean Sullivan and Sister Louise Kerns
Thursday, May 14th 
6:30pm
Venezia – 220 Ericsson Street, Dorchester, MA. 
For tickets visit: https://juliesfamily.givezooks.com/events/honoring-sister-jean-sullivan-and-sister-louise-kearns

To learn more about Julie’s Family Learning Program or to make a donation visit: http://www.juliesfamily.org

Photographay by Deborah McCarthy