Sister Julie Siggelkov
A Joyful Spirit
Sister Julie Siggelkov, born in Fairbank, Iowa, missed the New Year’s beginning by only seven days. Her birth date, 70 years ago, was January 7. She was baptized Madonna Christine Siggelkov, but took the name Sister Julie at her reception into religious life, a name which, she said, was short like herself. An avid reader with a degree in library science, steady and committed, she dedicated herself to her teaching ministry for 42 years.
Sister Julie possessed an inner freedom – and a wonderful gift of humor; she was a relentless teaser. At her medical appointments in Iowa City, and even on the way to surgery, she carried jokes to share with her doctors. After surgery, when they didn’t know whether her name was Madonna (her baptismal name) or Julie (her sister name), she explained to the doctor that the Government made her do it; it was the only way she could get her bills paid.
Visits from family and friends brought questions regarding health concerns, but following brief responses, Sister Julie would add, “That’s enough about me.”
As individuals and as community we strive to live simply. Sister Julie showed us how. She dressed simply and wore her hair in a simple style, with that cute pixie cut, no perm, no curling iron, no rollers required. Her room was simple – and so were her expectations. Julie taught us how to live simply and die peacefully.
Sister Carrie Link, her classmate, was the homilist for Sister Julie’s funeral liturgy. “The grace of God was apparent in Julie in the last months of her life. Her faith brought peace to those who visited her as, once again, she became the teacher.” Quoting Sister Julie, “God holds each moment,” Sister Carrie said, “It seemed that Julie was embracing those final moments as she prepared her family and community for her death. A blessed state of full surrender was the lesson she taught, giving herself over to the care of God’s Providence. Trusting all to God, she had nothing to fear.”
Sister Mary Linus Coyle taught with Sister Julie at Immaculate Conception School in Charles City. She shared, “Julie was always Julie, her own person and never any pretense, loved by students, teachers and parishioners. Fun-loving, she planned surprise parties and picnics, retreat weekends and field trips such as Amana Colonies and Living History Farms. She loved nature and rejoiced in God’s creation. And when she came to prayer in the chapel, she calmly unfolded the footstool her brother-in-law, Dennis, had made for her because at 4’10” her feet didn’t touch the floor.”
The hymns Julie had previously chosen for the liturgy to celebrate her new life, reflected her special themes. Appreciation of nature brought her delight, with reminders to others to notice the touch of the Creator. At her funeral we sang, “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and all creation is shouting for joy.”
Sister Julie exemplified exceptional acceptance of her illness, to the edification of community, family and friends. At the gathering ritual we sang, “Peace now I give to you. My peace I pour through you. Not as the world gives, but ever more sure.”
Her faith and trust in God in the face of death offered inspiration. At the wake service we sang, “I know that my Redeemer lives, the One who calls me home. I long to see God face-to-face.”
Sister Julie, a joyful sprite, shared her sunny disposition. For the recessional hymn of her funeral liturgy we sang, “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love.
For the Gospel of her final liturgy Sister Mary Julie chose the post-resurrection story of Jesus walking with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Walking with Jesus and Sister Julie, we keep her name alive, sharing a spirit of joy, good humor, and trust.
If you would like to make a memorial gift in memory of Sister Julie, click here.