Julie came to the diocese in April 1990 in the role of Property Secretary. Her task was to create a computerised asset register of every property under the protection of diocesan trustees. It involved touring the diocese, meeting priests, photographing buildings and noting discrepancies between previous records and reality. Julie also compiled one uniform map of the rural areas of the diocese and a map of the parishes in the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Maitland regions. The maps had colour coded pins for churches, presbyteries, schools, halls and so on. Databases were created to record parish details: the history of buildings, heritage listings, details of councils, architects and builders, insurance, plans and title deeds, valuations and census figures.
During this time matters which had been the domain of Chancery were handed over to the Property Office, so Julie oversaw selling, leasing and purchasing of property, managing title deeds and maintenance.
In 1994 Julie was asked to create a heritage asset management system that could serve as a model for other church groups. In 1998 this system was cited as an excellent model at the National Conference on Heritage Conservation of Religious Property.
As the Property Office grew, so did Julie’s interest in the rich history of the diocese, its people and its early buildings; so much so that in 1996 she undertook an advanced diploma in “Local Family and Applied History” through the University of New England. Julie graduated in April 2001.
In 1996, a year after the transition from the Diocese of Maitland to the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, the Chancery moved to Newcastle West. While packing Chancery archives, Julie discovered a large number of former bishops’ apparel which she realised had not been recorded. This brought to light the need for support for the archives so in 1997 Julie applied to the National Library for funding under the Community Heritage Grants program and received a grant of $1500.
Once the move to Newcastle West was complete, Julie was given additional duties, including maintenance of buildings and grounds, booking of meeting rooms, organising staff supplies and security.
There were many requests too for assistance with family and parish histories and celebration of priests’ anniversaries.
Julie’s passion for preserving and curating the archives led to the diocese gaining membership of Museums Australia and the Institute of Religious Archivists. For many years Julie has also been a member of the National Trust and she was an inaugural member of the Heritage Network of the Hunter. Last year the diocese hosted the annual conference of the Institute of Religious Archivists.
Over 24 years Julie has had dealings with many people in the chancery, CatholicCare, the Catholic Schools Office, clergy and religious and members of the community generally. She has formed many friendships, and I have certainly appreciated sharing her journey over the last 21 years.
Elizabeth also acknowledged the sterling service of Helen Russell who has spent many volunteer hours working with Julie in the archives.