Coming home to St. Mark’s
New priest to lead Waupaca parish
By Robert Cloud
Rev. Julie Hendrix is the second generation of her family to serve as rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Waupaca.
Her father, Rev. Wilson Roane, was St. Mark’s rector from 1990 until 2004.
“I lived with my parents for about six months in 1990,” Hendrix said, who was in her 20s at the time.
A graduate of Carroll College where she met her her husband, Steve Hendrix, she later attended the District of Columbia School of Law, which has a history of focusing on social justice for minorities and low-income people.
After obtaining her law degree, Hendrix began working in a legal clinic in Washington, D.C., for people with HIV-AIDS.
“Christians are called to to help the poor and oppressed,” Hendrix said. “A lot of my clients were women, children and prisoners who were dying of AIDS.”
Her husband, who worked with the State Department, was posted to Guatemala in 1997.
Because she could not practice law overseas, Hendrix taught at a high school for American students.
When they moved back to Washington in 2002, Hendrix worked with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, advocating for immigration reform at the Capitol.
For more than two decades, Julie and Steve Hendrix lived in countries around the world, including Paraguay, Nicaragua, Nigeria and Guyana. Steve worked as a diplomat and Julie taught English and history at middle and high schools.
While Steve was posted about two years in Iraq with the U.S. Agency for International Development, Julie remained in Washington with their three children.
Call to serve
“I have always felt a call to serve God,” Hendrix said, “since I was 8 or 9.”
Hendrix noted that when she was younger, women in many denominations were not allowed to serve in the ministry.
“Women were first ordained as priests in 1976,” Hendrix said. “But it took awhile to take hold.”
Because she could not become a priest, Hendrix considered becoming a nun.
“After I met my husband, I decided I wasn’t going to become a nun,” Hendrix said.
After years of teaching and working with those who were poor or dying from AIDS, Hendrix began thinking about becoming a priest.
“I told my husband that I really think I need to to do this,” Hendrix said. “He said, ‘Thank God. You’ve been talkling about this non-stop our entire life.’”
They later moved to the Fox Valley, where they attended St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Menasha and Julie worked as a volunteer service coordinator for ADVOCAP, a non-profit, community action agency that helps people move out of poverty, secure affordable housing, gain work skills and start small businesses.
“I began ardently exploring entering the priesthood,” Hendrix said, describing the discernment process as the steps one takes “to make sure you are indeed called to the priesthood.”
In the fall of 2018, she began studying for the ministry at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Waukesha County. She graduated in May and will be ordained in July.
“I was called as rector of St. Mark’s in my last semester at school,” Hendrix said.
She said she feels a special connection to Waupaca, noting that her family owns a cabin on Pine Lake.
“This has been our home away from home,” she said. “When Steve and I were overseas, we always came home to Waupaca.”