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‘We’re here for the nuns’

July 10, 2015
Peter J. Fatooh
San Francisco

Your June 19 edition highlighted the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. I congratulate the paper for that wonderful story. For those of your readers who remember the late ABC broadcaster Paul Harvey, there is “the rest of the story” deserving to be told about the sisters.

In the 1960s, the late Philip J. Siggins, then director of the San Francisco Board of Permit Appeals under Mayor Joe Alioto, recruited me to assist him in delivering provisions to the sisters at their Downey Street location in the Haight. Phil Siggins was a gem. His late father, Martin “Pat” Siggins, had been an agriculture inspector at the old San Francisco Produce Market. According to Phil, at the holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, his father would have his “red tags” at the ready down at the old Produce Market terminal. Pat would not hesitate to tag various boxes of fruit, vegetables and other edibles from the vendors during those holidays and those red-tagged boxes would find themselves at the doorstep of the sisters’ convent.

When Pat passed away, the torch of provisions for the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration was passed down to his son Philip. Not being an agriculture inspector with red tags, Phil would take me with him to the produce market along with our truck a day or so before these holidays and cajole the various vendors out of a few 50-pound sacks of potatoes from George Burger and Co., a few more boxes of fruit and juice from the Lippi Brothers and vegetables from the John DeMartini Co. There was no discrimination; no vendor went unscathed! In fact, as the years went on, it would be funny to watch them see us walking toward their venue at the market and you could see the visible wincing as in “Oh, no, here they come again!” Phil was most concise to all of them. “We’re here for the nuns,” he would proclaim! The vendors, especially the Catholic ones, could never deny the nuns. After leaving the produce market we would then bring our truck to a major grocery store and Phil would personally buy the meat, dinner trimmings, coffee, tea, milk and plenty of desserts.

Phil Siggins did this for the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration up until his own passing in the early 1990s. To this day, that torch of provisions has been carried by Phil’s son, Justice Peter J. Siggins of the California Court of Appeal. Peter has faithfully carried on this great tradition and on each of these holidays I, as well as a loyal, but small, group of supporters, continue to receive a handmade “thank you” from the sisters. In addition to Peter Siggins, archdiocesan friends of the sisters for this endeavor include Joseph Kelly, Larry Simi, Wil Hardee Jr., the McNaughton boys (Kevin, Mike, Rich and Matt) and the Siggins boys (Greg and Marty).

And that, friends, is the “rest of the story.”

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