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On Sunday, ten chattering preschool children trickled into Sister Julie Marie Arriaga’s classroom at Saint Julie Billiart Church in Newbury Park. She knew from experience that calling out for them to be quiet would never work.

“So I said softly ‘If you’re quiet, raise your hand.’” Sister Julie Marie said. “And I said it again, ‘If you’re quiet, raise your hand.’ Slowly all their hands came up.”

Sister Julie Marie began teaching preschool this fall as part of Saint Julie’s religious education program for preschool through fifth grade students. She is the first Sister of Notre Dame to be invited to teach at Saint Julie’s and is excited about her new ministry.

“It is an awesome privilege for me to be a presence in that community. I want to be a blessing for the children but also for the parents,” she said.

Her class will meet every Sunday from 9:00 to 10:15 a.m. while their parents are at Mass. Sister Julie Marie’s plan for the school year includes teaching her students to pray and helping them to develop

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their relationship with God.

Teaching has been Sister Julie Marie’s primary ministry since she entered as a Sister of Notre Dame in 1971. She began as a second grade communion and reconciliation teacher at Notre Dame Academy in West Los Angeles in 1974.

“I’ve always enjoyed the younger children,” she said. Sister spent seven years at Notre Dame Learning Center in Thousand Oaks as well.

Sister Julie Marie remembers feeling called to religious life at a very young age.

“When I was in eighth grade I told my mom and dad I wanted to be a sister,” she said “I had met sisters from a different community. I could see how happy they were and I wanted to be a part of that.”

As she prepares to celebrate her 40th Jubilee next summer, Sister Julie Marie is grateful for the many opportunities and blessings she has had throughout her religious life.

“We have different transitions and transfers in our lives [as sisters] but I count every call to a new ministry or a new convent as a blessing,” she said.

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