Julia Shideler was born August 28, 1978 to Olivia Brigitte (Caulliez) Shideler and John Clement Shideler in Oakland, CA. She had 1 sister: Stephanie and 1 brother: Gregory. Julia graduated from Lewis & Clark High School, Spokane, WA in 1996.
Julia spent her early years at St. Augustine’s Parish in Spokane, WA, where she was raised in a bilingual French-American family. When she was seven years old, her parents left the Catholic Church and joined the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. She received a fine Unitarian religious education throughout high school and integrated its values and quest for spirituality and justice. Moving to Orcas Island, WA, in 1997, she began searching for a more personal relationship with God.
During college, she went to Guadalajara, Mexico for a three-month cultural exchange program. She taught English and French lessons in a private school and lived with a Catholic family. In 2000, at Western Washington University (WWU) in Bellingham, WA, she explored her Catholic roots and returned to the Catholic Church within a year. In 2001, she was confirmed at Assumption Parish in Bellingham. Seeking to understand more personally the plight of post-colonial populations, Julia spent a semester in the Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa. She then served on the Catholic peer-ministry team of WWU and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish in 2002.
Feeling called to mission and religious life, Julia went to live in Korea and continued discerning her call to Maryknoll, teaching English for a year in Suwon. In 2004, she received pre-candidacy status with the Maryknoll Sisters and underwent a four-month “live-in” with Sisters in Majuro, Marshall Islands.
Julia Shideler entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation August 14, 2005 at their Center in NY. She professed First Vows August 12, 2007 at the Center as a Maryknoll Sister in service to the universal mission of the Church. Her parents and extended family were present for this significant celebration. During a “home visit” to Washington State, she was heartened by the local support for her mission vocation as she visited parishes in Spokane, Bellingham, Orcas Island, and the Maryknoll Affiliates of Seattle. She professed Final Vows September 28, 2014 again at the Center.
After profession, Sister Julia spent two years of orientation training in Chicago, learning to live in a multi-cultural community and taking courses at Catholic Theological Union. Along with prayer, Julia prepared for her religious life through ministry and inter-cultural relationships. She learned a lot from urban Native Americans at the Anawim Inter-faith Spirituality Center, where she ministered through her presence and prayer amid storytelling, sharing of food, and outreach. She also ministered to cancer patients at UC Hospital while serving on the pastoral care team of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Hyde Park.
Sister Julia’s first overseas mission assignment was in 2008 to Aileu, East Timor, where she ministered to young adults, taught in public and Catholic high schools, and developed curriculums that fostered a culture of peace and raised the consciousness of youth.
In a mission-sending ceremony at the Maryknoll Sisters in December 2007, Sister Julia received her mission cross and committed herself to sharing life and mission with the people of East Timor. She is part of small community of Maryknoll Sisters working in a rural Catholic parish. Sister Julia accompanies students from villages as they move toward higher education, empowering them through extra-curricular activities to find their own voices and develop inner resources of faith and self-confidence.
Sister Julia continues to educate youth in the mountainous District of Aileu, using English and two official languages: Tetum and Portuguese. She organized small study groups to personally help her students develop their self-esteem and skills for public speaking, translation, essay writing, environmental studies, photography, and health. Since 2011, Sister Julia has helped many students to complete high school and go on to college through scholarship programs.