December 17

Julia McKenna

Despite a struggle with mental health, Julia McKenna, sociology major and fencing team member, pursues her best life through faith, family, and therapeutic care.

“On one walk, Father Pete said something I’ve continued to keep close to my heart. He said, ‘In the Gospel, God and Jesus never promised us we would not struggle. They promise to be there for us when we do.’ Reframing my mindset from abandonment to one of accompaniment changed how I view my battle with anxiety.”

This Advent season, let us remember that part of our journey toward healing means walking with others and allowing others to walk with us, too. How can we remember God’s promise not to abandon us, even in our darkest moments?



  1. Wow. I am exceedingly proud of You. You have immense courage. You have gleaned an insight I shall claim. That is: ” Re framing my mindset from abandonment to one of accompaniment changed how I view my battle with anxiety.”

  2. You are very brave to tell this story of your struggles with anxiety! I applaud you for seeking out spiritual healing along with the other challenges you face. Sounds like you have found many helpful methods to keep yourself on track. Keep on doing what you are doing to stay strong. You are helping yourself and others all at the same time! Bless you and Merry Christmas 🎄

  3. That was incredibly courageous of you to share your struggles so transparently. Thank you for doing so; I am certain your message will provide hope and succor to others struggling with their mental health.
    May God bless you. . .and continue to accompany you on your journey.

  4. You are an amazing young women!
    God heals
    Keep the faith
    Enjoy the journey
    Keep making a difference
    Thank you for being so Brave!

  5. Julia, Thank you for being so vulnerable and honest in your sharing of your sacred story for the benefit of all who are blessed to hear your inspiring message. You benefit from Fr. Pete’s wise reframing of your perspective on your struggle with anxiety, and now you pay that gift forward. May God bless you, always, with relief from the difficulties caused by your anxiety, and may you always believe that He is with you in the struggle and that there is value in the struggling. A peaceful and merry Christmas to you, and congrats for being a member of the very successful ND fencing team. GO IRISH!! 🍀

  6. Julia,

    I have listed to these reflections for years and have never commented. I was very moved by your witness– and found it truly inspiring. THANK YOU for your vulnerability and honesty. I cannot imagine how difficult it was for you — not only back when you were a freshman — but also to prepare and go on camera for today’s story. What Fr Pete said to you really resonates to me — and is essentially that God’s arms are always long enough to reach into any hole we put ourselves in. God loves you and always will! Blessed Christmas.

  7. Julia, thank you for sharing your struggles and your actions for overcoming them. Yours is a wonderful example of the power of prayer combined with good therapy can helps us make progress against these things in our lives that have caused setbacks. I admire your courage in sitting in front of that camera. Young people like you give me real hope for the future.

  8. This is a beautiful video. Thank you for sharing your important story. I hope young people everywhere watch it and understand they are not alone. Congratulations on your will to forge ahead and succeed. God bless you, Julia. You will do great things in the world.

  9. Julia, Your story was moving and inspirational. May God continue to bless your journey… to feel accompanied not abandoned will forever be in my heart and I am sure these words will help many.

  10. Thank you for your courage and your willingness to share your story. You are a true inspiration. I am proud of you, your strength and your insight.

  11. Thank you for sharing your struggle & path of healing Julia. Peace be with you my Notre Dame sister❗️Patrick ND ‘72

  12. I am 92 years old and beginning to struggle with the confidence to continue my involvement in various ways. Your story gives me the strength to continue. Thank you for sharing. Merry Christmas. God bless you.

  13. Thanks for your courageous Effort to share your story and I hope you have wonderful Holiday and God Bless you and love come into your heart each and every day.

  14. Thank you beautiful Julia for sharing this with us. You are an inspiration and have reminded us all that Christ is with us in our struggles. God bless you in all your endeavors!

  15. Dear Julia, What a beautiful and inspirational story. Thank you for your openness to share in your struggles and your words of “accompaniment vs abandonment” will help so many of us with our own heavy crosses. Merry Christmas!

  16. May your love for Christ (the Crucified) continue to grow. The scripture readings for this Advent have challenged me as well! The Peace of Christ be with you. Merry Christ-Mass.

  17. Julia, I truly believe your story will be life changing, not only for me, but for all of us who cried through your beautiful video. I hope I always remember to reframe my struggles as you do. Thank you and Merry Christmas!

  18. Julia;
    I’m really proud of you for sharing your heart felt story. I’m an alum of Cavanaugh Hall which was a Men’s dorm before going coed. This makes me even more proud!
    Best wishes,

  19. Thank you for sharing your story, Julia. You are showing tremendous strength by shining a light on a hidden part of you that you struggle with. In doing this you are showing others that it is not something you should be ashamed of, but part of how some of us are created and God doesn’t make mistakes. You are giving someone the courage to not give up and seek the help they need. Thank you.

  20. I can only underline what you have already discovered: you are not alone. If you don’t find someone who can support you in your struggle, just keep looking. In the meantime, Jesus Christ is always there for you. God Bless you, and Go Chaos!

  21. God bless you, Julia,for your courage and your honesty. You are inspiring many to count on the power and goodness of Jesus to heal all pain and suffering. Have a beautiful Christmas as you celebrate the birth of the One who truly can heal all of us.

  22. Julia,

    You are a terrific example of the support of God and others as one travels “The Advent Road”.
    Your faith, trust, and love of God brings Jesus’ presence into your daily life.
    You have found the unbounded “power of God” on this earth.

  23. Sweetheart,
    I needed this so much as I’m going through the most painful situation right now. Hearing , though I knew, that God is our constant companion, means so much. I had to hear you say it to remember it for myself.
    God bless you honey and thank you!

  24. It is with much love that I tell my grand daughter , Julia that you just have a beautiful way with words. Thank you for the reminder that we are never walking alone.

  25. Proud mama. Asking for help takes deep courage. Providing witness is equally as courageous. Thank you for reminding us to do both.

  26. Julia,

    God has given you resources to lean on, and He walks with you each step of your journey. Thank you for sharing to encourage others to also recognize the people God puts in our way. You are living Notre Dame’s force to do good. May you receive an abundance of His blessings.

  27. Julia what an awesome witness you are to the power of God. We were moved to watch you share your story and it takes a lot of courage to do so. May God continue to give you strength and peace on your journey. I will keep you in my prayers. God Blees you and Merry Christmas.

  28. Julia, what a moving and COURAGEOUS story. The phrase “God works in mysterious ways” is often overused and a little trite, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t apply here. I choose to think some of the ways God acts to come to your aid in times of difficulty include medicine, counseling and family, as well as prayer. Bless you on your journey.

  29. Julia, you truly are an example of being the face of Christ to others. Thank you for sharing this profound witness. May God’s blessings shine on you this Christmas season.

  30. Thank you for sharing your story so beautifully and courageously. You have been an inspiring witness to others who are struggling with their mental health as I have been. Not abandoned but accompanied by Jesus.

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