Sister Julian Dion, O.P.
Sister Julian Dion, OP, died after a prolonged illness at Saint Martin Residence, Fremont, CA, on July 28. She was 90 years old and in the 69th year of her religious profession. Born on March 17, 1930 in Chicago, IL, she was the daughter of Julian Dion and Marie Ann Anctil.
In the second grade she boarded for a few months at Immaculate Conception Academy, San Francisco, where she met the Dominican Sisters. Her association with the sisters continued at St. Elizabeth Elementary and High School, Oakland. In 1949 she entered the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose and made her first profession of vows in 1951.
For 12 years Sister Julian ministered as teacher and administrator in Catholic schools. Her assignments included St. James School and St. Anthony’s School, San Francisco, and St. Catherine’s Military School where she served as principal from 1956 - 1965. During the next 35 years, 1965-2000, she served as treasurer at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, La Canada Flintridge; Immaculate Conception Academy, San Francisco; and the Motherhouse, Mission San Jose.
Funeral services will be private. Burial will be at the Congregation’s cemetery, God’s Acre, located at the Motherhouse.
Sister Julian Dion, O.P.
of the Holy Cross
March 17, 1930 – July 28, 2020
“If we live, we live for the Lord; If we die, we die for the Lord.” Rom 14:8
We honor today a faithful and true Dominican whose entire religious life remained so focused on her Lord that in her file was a eulogy honoring the greatness of her beloved mother, Mary Dion, and the impact that SHE had on Sister’s life! Not a word, not a reference, not a video, not an event mentioned that would put any focus on Julian herself! This was the foundation laid for a quiet, faithful, and generous life in the giving of herself throughout seventy-one years of service as a committed Dominican religious. “If we live, we live for the Lord!”
Sister Julian (aka Helen Marie Jeanne Dion) was born on March 17, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Julian Eugene Dion, a native of France, and Marie Ann Anctil, a native of Canada.She had an older half-sister, Lucienne (Dion) Rees, from her widowed father’s first marriage.When she was ready for pre-school, the family moved to California.
Helen grew up in Oakland and was educated in first grade at St. Augustine School and then at Immaculate Conception Academy as a boarder in the 2nd grade.When her father, a chef for the railroad system, was finally settled in Oakland, she then attended St. Elizabeth’s from 3rd to 12th grades.She became a girl scout and was active in the Catholic Daughters of America.After graduation from high school, Helen worked as a salesperson, telegraph operator, and finally as a bookkeeper for an insurance firm.
It was on Sept. 8, 1949, that Helen’s new life began upon her entrance with the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose.Her reception of the habit followed on June 14, 1950, her profession on June 23, 1951, and her final profession on June 23, 1957.In 1956, she graduated from Queen of the Holy Rosary College, and in 1959 received her elementary teaching credential.
Sister Julian had a deep respect for the dynamic role her mother had played in forming her values, and this role became very evident after her entrance into religious life.Here was not only a wonderful mother but also a teacher who had been a pioneer missionary Sister of a newly founded religious community herself until ill health caused her withdrawal.She then met Sister’s father and became a governess to his daughter Lucienne until their marriage when she took on a new role as a dynamic wife and now a loving mother that eventually included little Helen.She soon had their family door always open for visitors and delighted in entertaining guests by preparing genuine French cuisine, much to the joy of her father and later of the Dominican Sisters.Finally, she became a faithful and sensitive caregiver to Sister’s dad in his final years.Expansive and gracious hospitality was definitely the hallmark of the Dion family.
In addition, it was her mother who teamed up with the mother of Sister Mary Brennan, her child-hood friend, to found the organization of parents and friends called the Dominican Guild which organized fund raisers for the support of the Mission San Jose Dominican Sisters. These values that were instilled in Sister Julian throughout her growing years were very evident in her own personal life in community as well as in her varied ministries.So it is understandable that Sister was so happy to introduce to her communities this wonderful mom who had shaped and blessed her with such a full and happy childhood.
In 1953, Sister Julian began her ministry in education at St. James Boys’ School; in 1955 at St. Catherine’s Military School as teacher and principal; in 1963 at St. Anthony’s as teacher and principal; and in 1965 as treasurer at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.Finally, in 1972 she returned to the Motherhouse as bookkeeper until 1986 for a two-year assignment at Immaculate Conception as Corporation Treasurer.Her last active assignment was in 1988 as Motherhouse Treasurer.Finally, in 2013, Sister’s assignment took on a new role, that of ministry of prayer, when she entered St. Martin’s Community to begin her new and final journey.
As a community member, Sister always had a rather low key and quiet sense of humor and was easy to laugh over just about anything.She loved to collect coupons to redeem, especially when she was able to visit and enjoy a casino trip.Hand crafts were easy for her, such as leather work, stitchery, or photography, and her love for the outdoors would find her on a good long hike into the hills.
Sister also liked to drive and would always try to find a new route home through San Francisco instead of the old familiar one in order to surprise people in the car with a fresh view of the city.Sometimes it would be an unfamiliar road overlooking the Bay or a park that she knew was presently in bloom with colorful daffodils and that she somehow felt was waiting just for them.
This habit puts us in mind of Dominic’s travels on foot across Spain with his brethren, keeping their spirits up and distracting them with song and praise to lighten their burdens.No doubt, there surely would have been a pause near a flowing stream or a field ablaze with color.Nature at its best works wonders, whether one is on foot or in a station wagon, and Sister Julian knew how to capture the moment and savor it with others.
When teachers discovered that she had a green thumb with plants and could bring a drooping orchid back to life in no time, they would bring their sagging flora to her for a facelift and soon return to discover that a small miracle had awakened what seemingly was hopeless, even dead.This was in many ways the same effect she had on anyone who would visit her in the care center.Her interest would shift to the topic at hand as she somehow laid the ground for others to do most of the talking while she listened with an attentive smile and a head nod.Whatever may have been her personal concerns were of no importance to her when she was blessed with company.
Presently, as we have entered into the preparation for our 26th General Chapter, we are praying daily for our Loving God to “Widen Our Hearts.”Sister Julian has already experienced this blessing and knows firsthand “the emerging new of the Gospel that invites us to (our) Transformation.”And so we ask you, Sister, to continue your faithful vigil over your beloved Congregation as we hold the “challenges of our times” and walk our journey with the simplicity, reverence, and quiet joy that you modeled for us so faithfully.May we one day experience the vision that claims you now.
--Sister Catherine Marie Bazar, O.P.