Margaret Spiller, SNJM (RIP 2/6/16)
Alanna Lechner, SNJM
I am the sixth child of twelve born to Vincent and Georgiana Lechner. Throughout grade school in Lomita, California, I was taught by the Salesian Sisters who greatly influenced my religious vocation and my interest in the foreign missions. Upon my completion of primary school, my family moved to Salem, Oregon where I attended Sacred Heart Academy. It was there that I met the Holy Names Sisters and was inspired by their friendliness and happy spirit. Thus, in 1963 I began my novitiate in Oregon. However since my family had moved back to California, in 1966 I changed to the California province.
After finishing the university, I was finally able to start teaching, a career which truly animated me. I loved the sense of wonder and curiosity in young children, and found it thoroughly rewarding helping them discover and develop their abilities.
After several years of teaching in California, I was missioned to Peru where I provided teachers with educational materials and assisted them in the planning and execution of lessons. A year after the SNJM Sisters left Peru, I moved to Nicaragua where I fulfilled my lifelong dream of working in a children’s home. Along with teaching, I was privileged to be the “mother” for up to 45 children at a time, ages 0 through 6. Luckily I am able to monitor the growth and progress of many of these children who still live in our organization. When a new home was opened and the children were moved, I became the director of the farm where today we raise produce and meat for the 300 children in our care. I love animals and the tropical outdoors, so once again I have been truly blessed and fulfilled in my work.