Margaret Spiller, SNJM (RIP 2/6/16)
Linda Fuselier, SNJM
I was the youngest of three children born to Bill and Lee Fuselier in San Francisco. My brothers were Bill and John. Family values of love, faith, responsible citizenship and parish participation shaped my early formative years. I was attracted to the Sisters of the Holy Names through elementary education and sodality due to their friendliness, care and presence among youth, particularly, Sisters Rose Genevieve, Joseph Paul and Shirley Sexton.
In the midst of Vatican II I entered in Los Gatos, CA. Following novitiate I became an innovative and creative teacher enhancing classroom experiences beyond 1 + 1 with Christmas pageants, dramatic plays, specialized field trips and live circuses to raise money for UNICEF. My 7th grade teacher, Sr. Jean Morningstar taught me that we are all capable of being artists in our own way. That insight and freedom has surely shaped my life and ministry over the years. That same irrepressible creativity and zest for life and fun shows up In later years as I organized Red Hat Parties for our senior Sisters at Los Gatos.
A special highlight was winning the SNJM lottery to attend the beatification of Mother Marie Rose in Rome in 1982. This experience inspired my transition from formal education to pastoral ministry. From parish houses to retreat centers I engaged in pastoral care through counselling, spiritual direction and retreat work. From Menlo Park to Berkeley and even to Africa I have been involved with the pastoral and spiritual formation of seminarians, lay leaders, first professed religious and finally the formators of 30 religious communities. I was able to offer training in skills of listening, pastoral counselling, spiritual direction, homiletics, and retreat presentations as well as discernment for decision making based on Sr. Beth Liebert’s work.
30 years in HIV ministry took me from Mother Teresa’s Center in Oakland to NY, Florida, Mississippi as well as South Africa, Lesotho, Uganda and Rwanda. At House of Love in western Uganda I was called “grandmother” among the orphans I taught to cook, speak English and even how to play. Often the children are caught up in survival and with daily chores and gardening have little time for leisure and relaxation. I am glad I could teach massage and healthy touch in a place where violence and abuse are taken as normative. I am so grateful to Edwina Gateley for creating Volunteer Missionary Movement and accepting me as one of their volunteers. I am also grateful to Catholic Extension Society for the scholarship to receive a Masters Plus Degree in Pastoral Counselling and Spirituality. I have been blessed by SNJM leaders who encouraged me to “Dare the dream and take the risk to live and love the path along the way.”
Currently I am involved in parish and civic volunteer opportunities as well as hospitality at Villa Maria Del Mar. I await the call of a new dream and prepare to take the risk.