Margaret Spiller, SNJM (RIP 2/6/16)
Janine Rocheleau, SNJM
I was born the youngest of three girls to Lucia and Eugene in River Canard, Ontario. My encounter with the Sisters of the Holy Names began at a very early age since my great-aunt, Sr. Ernestine, was a member of the community in Windsor. She was a very holy woman who genuinely loved God and was extremely peaceful, gentle and happy. I was very fond of her. Also, a group of Sisters lived at St. Joseph Convent and taught in our parish school. They taught me at St. Joseph’s Elementary School and at St. Mary’s Academy in high school. They also taught me piano at 8 years old and supported my playing of Hawaiian guitar and Spanish guitar. I was inspired by the Sisters’ genuine love of God, love of people and life. The education they offered me was a joyful learning, exploration and celebration of life that included knowledge, spiritual growth, art, music and the development of the full potential of the human person.
My life plan had always been to marry and have a big family. However, in my senior year as I discerned my vocational call and future possibilities I became open and felt drawn to pursue the possibility of a commitment to religious life as a Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. I entered the postulate at our Motherhouse in Montreal, Quebec in 1964. The rest is history!
I attained my BA in Social Sciences at the University of Windsor, graduated from Windsor Teacher’s College. My experience with the SNJM Sister-teachers influenced me in incorporating music, art, spirit and celebration in all aspects of growth and development. Eighteen years of teaching grade 5, 6, 7 or 8 was a delightful gift.
My first assignment sent me to Amherstburg, ON, where I taught and answered the need to start a Youth Centre, The House of Shalom. I also was a team member for a youth retreat called COR (Christ in Others) in Windsor and Essex County. I was also music director of a high school youth choir called Faith Unlimited that gave concerts in Windsor, South Bend, IN and Toronto.
I was asked to leave teaching to do vocation ministry. I gladly accepted and did this for nine years and consequently developed a series of weekend retreats for young adults.
After getting my MA in Pastoral Ministry at St. Joseph College in Hartford, CT, I worked at Chelsea House, a retreat centre that included day retreats for mid-life people and seniors as well as weekend retreats for young adults. All these experiences truly gave witness that faith can transform our lives. All was blessing!
I was asked by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to be Chair of the Spirituality Committee for the Windsor- Essex Central Council and also to Chair the Ontario Region Spirituality Committee. I willingly accepted to do this and encourage spiritual growth and awareness of justice issues and work for systemic change. I did this until my next challenge.
The next great grace was the call to co-direct Marie Rose Place, a retreat house named in honor of Blessed Marie Rose’s 200th anniversary. For more information visit our website, www.marieroseplace.com. This continues to be another amazing gift on my journey!
I am infinitely grateful to God, my family, friends and SNJM Sisters and Associates for the joy of their presence and support on my life journey and Golden Jubilee!