Margaret Spiller, SNJM (RIP 2/6/16)
Marcia Frideger, SNJM
I was born in San Francisco to Ann Makelim Frideger, a native of San Francisco, and Edward Frideger, a native of the very small town of Glen Ellen in Sonoma County, CA. The first of eight Frideger children, I enjoyed my role as oldest sister to my five sisters and two brothers. My parents instilled a love of both city life and country life and were great ones for weekend picnics, trips to Stinson Beach, and lots of time at playgrounds.
When I was five, we moved to Marin County, just north of San Francisco, where I attended St. Anselm’s School and Marin Catholic High School. In both schools I was taught by a wonderful, lively group of Holy Names Sisters, who instilled a love of learning and demonstrated both a joie de vivre and a practical, appealing approach to spirituality. The opening of the Second Vatican Council during these mid-1960’s years began to change our views on Church, theology, religious life, and the lay vocation, causing me to discern between vocations during my senior year of high school. Happily, religious life as an SNJM won out.
In the novitiate at Los Gatos and juniorate at College of the Holy Names in Oakland, we experienced both the Congregation and the Church grappling with the excitement of Vatican II theology versus the pull of tradition. These challenges and changes continued in my ministry, especially in teaching religion and other subjects at St. Ignatius Elementary School in Sacramento and then for seven years at Holy Names High School in Oakland. A turning point came in my life when, in the mid-1970’s, when I was named to be part of a four-sister CA Province Renewal Team. We attended an intense summer program for religious in St. Louis, learning about organizational change, group process, and interpersonal communication skills. We then trained CA SNJM’s to serve as small group leaders, and set up meetings where sisters shared about enduring values amidst changing approaches to ministry and religious life. This unusual ministry deepened my love of the Congregation and sent me to follow a new path of service.
To further my knowledge of organizational and facilitation skills, I earned a Master’s degree in organizational behavior at Brigham Young University. Returning to the Bay Area, I taught part-time for seven years at Holy Names University and consulted in Diocesan and Parish settings. Liking the ministry of higher education, I pursued a doctorate in the same field at the University of California, Irvine. Before returning to HNU to teach and chair the Department of Business, I taught for two years at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, getting to know the sisters in the Mid-Atlantic region. When I returned to Oakland, I found I loved working with the students and faculty at HNU both because of the influence of our SNJM charism and values there, and because of the opportunity to experience changing the lives of young people and adults in dramatic ways.
After teaching at HNU for fifteen years, I discerned that I would be open to serving in Province Leadership. I became part of the 2011-2015 Province Leadership Team for the U.S.-Ontario Province, a ministry that was very fulfilling. I am very grateful to God for being called to be a Sister of the Holy Names, appreciating the opportunities to serve in different ministries and get to know so many Sisters of the Province and Congregation. I am also grateful to my large family for their continuing love and their ability to reveal to me the challenges of contemporary daily life.