From the time she was young, Natalia Carrasco knew she had a vocation. “I felt my call when I was about 12,” she says. “From that time, I always knew I wanted to become a religious.”
Natalia had been taught by the Sisters of the Holy Cross in elementary school in San Francisco. Later Natalia attended Notre Dame High School, San Francisco, but after-school work obligations prevented her from attending activities when students got to know the Sisters better. She considered joining the Sisters of the Holy Cross but the Motherhouse was in Indiana, far from her family home, so she entered the Notre Dame novitiate at Saratoga. It was then that she really began to know the Sisters, to know St. Julie, and to appreciate Notre Dame spirituality.
Sr. Natalia’s ministries span California as they span these 60 years she celebrates. She was a well-loved and inventive teacher of six year olds for 21 years, and ninth graders for several more. She ministered to senior citizens in a senior center. Sr. Julie Marie Thorpe, long-time friend and principal in Chico, Millbrae and San Francisco where Sister taught first graders, remembers that, for Sr. Natalia, no child was a “baby.” “Each was treated with the respect and each rose to expectations. She was a gifted teacher and steadfast in her commitment to teaching.”
While Sister has a strong relationship to her own family and to her own Mexican-American culture, her sensitivity to people, no matter their ethnicity, age or needs, has been a gift to so many people, young and old alike. Looking back, she says that each ministry was unique; it enriched her life and taught her many lessons that have not ended.
Now retired, she and Sr. Julie Marie help every week at Our Lady of Grace Nativity School in San Jose, a school that provides a Catholic education for under-served girls of low-income families.
“At this time of Jubilee,” Sr. Natalia says, “I am grateful for many things: the support and love of my family, my Notre Dame community, and the grace God has given me to walk the “Camino” with many wonderful and diverse people.