Welcome to our ‘Faithful Servants’ series
…a new regular feature of the ever-present ‘servants of the faith’ across our local parish community.
We continue this feature with a focus on our new Ministry Area leaders. This week we introduce OLR Children & Families Ministry Leader Julie Gerhardt.
A new leader for the next generation of Kids Ministry
Many parishioners have already had the pleasure of appreciating her beautiful and welcoming smile, but if you haven’t been as fortunate yet, Julie Gerhardt is an exciting addition to the ministry leadership team and joins Our Lady of the Rosary Parish as its Children & Families Ministry Leader.
“It feels like somewhat of a calling,” said Julie. “Encouraged by Fr Josh and being asked to lead this ministry, I was extremely honoured and humbled. I must admit, I was a little apprehensive too!”
Julie says she often prays to Our Lady and is always trying to be open to God’s will.
“Prayer is an essential part of my day, sometimes it may be formal prayers or just having a long running conversation with God throughout the day, but music is always a part of it,” said Julie.
“I was influenced by my two beautiful grandmothers who had a lot of faith and great devotion to Our Lady.
“She is the mother of our Saviour, and the most faithful, merciful and graceful woman, a most powerful intercessor,” added Julie.
Contemplating the virtues of Mary and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially since Our Lady is also chosen as this parish’s name, Julie said she felt inspired and hopes to offer this community the wonderful opportunity to encounter Jesus.
“I know from experience how difficult and busy life can be raising children. I had three children aged under 3 years of age, and my hope is to implement ways to make life a little easier for families to attend Mass,” she said.
“My own children were involved with our parish when they were growing up, but unfortunately there were rare opportunities for them to Encounter Jesus with people of their own age; and like with so many young people, their faith has taken a back seat to everything else that is going on in the world.
“I am hoping that our vision for the Children and Families Ministry will have a long-lasting effect and transition these children into youth and young adults of our parish,” Julie added.
She attributes much of her own faith formation to the opportunities afforded to her at Our Lady of the Rosary.
“One of the fruits of the past few years of Alpha here at OLR has been the Women’s Prayer and Friendship Group, which also is an essential part of my prayer life. I have gained and learned so much from these beautiful women about faith, life and love,” said Julie.
“Also, some of the young adults have introduced me to some amazing praise and worship songs at their monthly Wednesday Adoration, and I often drive around playing those songs, listening in the car.”
When Julie was aged 16 years, she experienced her own life-changing encounter at an Antioch weekend she was invited to.
“At the time, Antioch was a fairly new concept,” said Julie.
“The decision to attend was a major turning point and lead me to really encounter God’s love in my life for the first time. I always shared our faith, but this took my relationship with God to the next level.
“As a young person, being able to share and grow in my faith with others though the Antioch movement was an incredible experience. And although I have been blessed to take part in lots of beautiful faith experiences since then, and had many prayers answered, it wasn’t until I experienced the Alpha program here at OLR many years later that I felt that same vibe.”
A parishioner for eight years at OLR, Julie has plenty of local knowledge and experience up her sleeve to now lead this new important ministry in the parish.
“I am a wife and mother myself, and I have been blessed with three children in their early 20’s two boys with a girl in the middle, mostly all living at home still.
“I grew up in Sydney and I was the Sacramental Co-ordinator in my previous parish community, and very involved in childrens ministries there. I was also the School Board Chair and had many different volunteer roles within the Primary School my children attended,” said Julie.
“The opportunity to now liaise between the school, parish and family communities, working on and creating invitational events, information sessions and activities that aim to develop a deep, genuine faith; a willingness to serve; a real ‘yes’ attitude and passion to evangelise is exciting.
“I believe there is a need to foster and grow the Children & Families Ministry within our Community.
“I am enthusiastic to find opportunities and to connect and cultivate relationships within the Parish, to be a more welcoming and inclusive faith community. I would like to be able to offer children and their parents’ more opportunities to Encounter Jesus, as we did recently with the Kids Encounter Day and to collaborate more between school and church communities.”