Mary Julia Zilka, SCN, 86, died Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, at Cornerview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was in her 68th year of religious life.
Sister entered the Congregation of the Vincentian Sisters of Charity from Most Holy Name of Jesus Church in Monessen, Pennsylvania in 1953. After receiving her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Education from Duquesne University, Sister M. Julia served as an elementary teacher for 24 years and as a principal for three years in the Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and in Monett, Missouri. Her ministries in Pennsylvania included Vincentian Home in Pittsburgh, St. Matthew’s in Pittsburgh, St. Ursula in Allison Park, St. Ann in Homestead, St. Denis in Versailles, St. Robert Bellarmine in East McKees, St. Agnes School in North Huntingdon, St. Denis in Versailles, St. Catherine in Wildwood, Holy Trinity Parish in Ford City, St. Anthony Church in Johnstown, St. Agnes in North Huntingdon, St. Sebastian Parish in Pittsburgh, St. Mary’s in Cecil, Vincentian Day Care in Pittsburgh, St. Francis in Johnstown, and St. Lawrence School in Monet, Missouri.
Her passion for learning more about her Catholic faith led her to pursue religious studies at John Carroll University, St. Vincent College, and Seton Hill College. She shared this knowledge and love of the Catholic faith as a Director of Religious Education for 20 years in the Dioceses of Pittsburgh, Greensburg, and Johnstown, as well as in St. Catherine Parish in Sebring, Florida.
After serving for 44 years in the education ministry, Sister M. Julia continued to be in ministry at Vincentian de Marillac Nursing home in the Activities department. After her retirement in 2007, she volunteered as a clerical assistant at Vincentian Collaborative System for two years.
She was the youngest of 13 children and a twin. Sister was affectionately referred to in her family as Dolly because of her petite doll-like appearance. Both of her parents were born in Slovakia and instilled in her a deep love for her Slovak heritage. She felt blessed by the many opportunities and challenges of her life in community and considered her religious vocation a great gift from God.
Sister M. Julia was preceded in death by her parents George and Julia Zilka and her siblings: John, Anna, George, Mary, Julia, Cyril, Helen, Andrew, Veronica, Joseph, and her twin John. She is survived by her sister Agnes, many nieces and nephews, and her Sisters in Community.
Due to the pandemic, a graveside service will take place at the Sisters’ cemetery, 8200 McKnight Road, Pittsburgh, on Saturday, Aug. 7 at 11 a.m. The Mass for Sister M. Julia will take place at a later date. All attending the burial are asked to be masked and observe social distancing.
Memorial donations may be made to the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Office of Congregation Mission, P.O. Box 9, Nazareth, Kentucky 40048-0009.