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St. Margaret’s Beloved Founder Father Sillers Passes Away at 99

15 October 2009 admin 37,187 views 19 Comments Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

sillers_webIt is with deep sadness that we announce that our beloved founder and patriarch of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church and School, The Reverend Canon Ernest D. Sillers, has passed away. Surrounded by friends and loved ones, Father Sillers died Thursday afternoon at Saddleback Hospital at the age of 99.

An Episcopal priest with a deep passion for education, Father Sillers was certain in his vision: to establish a college preparatory school rooted in a framework that nurtures a student’s mind, body, spirit and social and moral development. He believed that “every student is a sacred and precious child of God” and that “a solid foundation assists a child to find strength when tested.”

With the blessing of the Episcopal Dioceses of Los Angeles, Father Sillers gathered with interested families from the Capistrano Valley on March 9, 1979 to discuss the possibility of opening a school. Less than six months later, on October 1, 1979, Father Sillers and his wife, Aldine, the school’s founding librarian, welcomed 79 students in grades K-6 to St. Margaret’s Episcopal School. Shortly thereafter in 1981, The Early Childhood Development Center opened and by June 1986, when Father Sillers addressed the first graduating class, students were enrolled in preschool through grade twelve. In 1987, Father Sillers left St. Margaret’s and carried forward his passion for education by founding St. John’s Episcopal School in Rancho Santa Margarita and St. Mary’s and All Angels School in Aliso Viejo.

Today, Father Sillers’ vision is deeply imbedded in the life of St. Margaret’s. His lasting legacy is best exemplified in our mission, to educate the hearts and minds of young people for lives of learning, leadership and service, and in our 1200 students and 1300 alumni who, when tested, find strength from their St. Margaret’s foundation, just as Father Sillers intended thirty years ago.

This is a profoundly significant moment in the history of our school . We have lost a great person and a great friend but his legacy will be forever celebrated here and in the lives of the many, many people he touched. And most importantly, we will ensure that his great work continues.


Marcus D. Hurlbut


Please share your memory or comment about the life of The Reverend Canon Ernest D. Sillers Below.



  • Leroy Fancher said:

    When I heard the news today. I thought about the people he touched and the educaion so many recieved. This parable came to mind.

    I am sure that he was welcomed home, by the Lord with: Matthew 25:21 “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I put you in charge of. Come and share your master happiness.”

    Lord Thank You, for sharing Father Sillers with us.

  • Jen Hutchinson said:

    I started at St. Margeret’s that first year in the trailers with Fr. Siller’s. I am truly saddened by his passing but moved by the singular person he was in my, and so many other people’s lives.

    I hope there will be a Memorial at the School so that the Alumni and other’s can pay their respects to one of God’s exemplary servants.

    God Speed Father S.!

  • Alexandria West said:

    Sad! I was one of his very first students! My Dad helped to build the school! My sister and I went there for a long time! I remember being sent to the principals office which was Father Ern and he had such a hard time getting upset with me that he laughed and called my Mom to tell her what I had done. I truly felt loved by him!

  • Jennifer Risner said:

    The news of Father Sillers’ passing has touched so many of us. I remember the early years at SMES when Father and Mrs. Sillers were both on campus. I was privileged to be baptized by Father Ern while in 8th grade at SMES, to graduate the HS, marry in the church to a fellow Tartan, and now work at another Sillers School, St. Mary’s. He has touched my life in many ways, and yet also so many others’ lives and in sometimes much greater ways. God Bless Father Sillers.

  • Astrid Janusz said:

    How honored we are to have known this wonderful man and his lovely wife, Aldine. I will never forget October 1, 1979. The Janusz family will forever be grateful for the larger St. Margaret’s family with Father and Aldine cheering us on.

  • Stu Scruggs said:

    Fr. Ern and his wife were testaments to what someone with wisdom, vision, and love for others can accomplish.

    God bless them both, for they were certainly a blessing to all of us. I’d be sad except that very few people get to live as full a life as he did, and I’m sure he was looking forward to being with Aldine again!

    Here’s a video of Fr. Ern’s speech when he and Aldine left St. Margaret’s.


  • Mark Campaigne said:

    We have lost a great champion of the faith this week with the death of Fr. Ern Sillers. What a visionary – a modern day Junipero Serra. Over three thousand children go to schools each day in Southern California that were founded by Fr. Ern; schools that are dedicated not only to sound education but more importantly to bringing the Gospel to both Christians and non Christians alike.

    Even at ninety nine Fr. Ern was inspiring a group of individuals to start another school in this area. One of his favorite sayins was “it is better to build children than to repair men,” and he set about doing that virtually to the day he died.

    When I first began as St. Margaret’s second Headmaster in 1986 Fr. Ern admonished me, and the Board of Trustees, with “God has a plan for this school, and as long as we keep our eyes focused on Him we cannot fail.” God also clearly had a plan for this wonderful man and his wife Aldine and that that plan became a blessing to so many.

    When my daughter Deborah ’02 heard about Fr. Ern’s death she texted me with “He’s probably already getting a team together to start a school up in Heaven. Been talking to St. Peter for months …God’s Academy – accepting angels and athletes.” So true.

    God bless you Father Ern

  • Teddie Hall said:

    I think that everyone misses Father Sillers. Even though, us kids, have only met him a couple times, or for us new kids, never, he was a great man. He was like an angel sent from Heaven. He changed so many kids lives, and he will always have a place in our hearts.

  • Lexi Vollero said:

    Father Sillers was a great man. I’ve only met him a few times, I truley miss him. He was an inspiration of what we want to be and what we should be. He is a person that will live long in all of our hearts.

    Dear Lord,

    Please take Father Sillers to heaven. Let him be truly happy. Please keep him with us and let us be more like him. God bless Father Sillers.
    In your name we pray,

  • Hailey Frost said:

    father sillers followed his passion with helping people and building schools for more learning to happen. he made friendships happen he was always believing and never in doudt he lived his outragious life and left on a good note but he will always stay in our hearts forever. everyone will remember him for he was the creator of are learning and developing. we all miss him and god bless him forever.

  • Molly Parsons said:

    Father Sillers was a great man, even though I only met him a few times after assemblies at school, I really miss him. He was very kind, and was truly interested in children’s learning. He founded three wonderful schools and I sincerely thank him for being such great help in the building of schools around Orange County, so thank you Father Sillers!

  • Veronika Laird said:

    When I first met Father Sillers a glowing and happy presence was around him that was unexplainable. I will never forget the thing that he has suceeded in. He made three very important schools on the OC. I will never forget his presence that day when he walked inside the room that I was in. He was a true follower and disciple of Jesus Christ.

    Please watch over Father Siller in heaven and create him a school house for angels. You let himer live so long to create your vision. You thought he was finally done on Earth and took him up to his real home.

    God bless him…

  • Marc Janusz said:

    Wow, It’s hard to find the words I want to say. Father Sillers will certainly be missed. Without his focus, commitment, and direction, St. Margaret’s may not be what it is today. I trust that family and friends will find relief knowing what a great man he was and now, he will be immortalized by our memory, forever. He worked so hard for so long, now he can finally rest knowing his service here on earth was so amazingly instrumental in so many of our lives.

  • Patty Mullen said:

    I was also one of the first students at St. Margaret’s and have many fond memories of Father Ern during chapel and seeing him around what was then a bunch of portable trailers and weeds. He will be missed by all.

  • Janet DeMarco said:

    I just found out about Father Ern’s passing. I and my brother’s attended St Mark’s in Downey, California. My mother also worked at the school. What a great man he was, I will never forget Father Ern.

  • Pam O'Neill Goldstein said:

    I will forever be grateful to Father Ern for his love and kindness.
    He was a true force of nature. I will never forget that day in that
    empty field as he pointed to me his vision for St.Margarets School.
    He held my hand as we watched the school grow. Never did he have a doubt of God’s will. What he provided for all his children will pass from generation to generation. He was my friend ,he was your friend and cannot be replaced. What a journey! What a servant of God’s Love.
    Father God welcome your faithful servant into heaven.

  • Peg Beemer said:

    God bless you, Fr. Sillers. What a blessing you have been to us. Rest in peace.

  • Cindy Drew said:

    I very recently heard of the loss of Father Sillers. I worked at St. Margaret”s for many years until going to St. Marys and All Angels as a second grade teacher.

    One of my fondest memories of him and his interest in what we did in the classroom was when my class made gingerbread houses and donated them to the community. He came in and wanted to know all about what we were doing. We gve him one of the houses for his office and he was so pleased.
    What a wonderful man now watches from heaven over all the children that he loved so much.

  • Sasha Yousefi said:

    Father Father Sillers was a masterwork from Heavan. He established so many great things that helps the heart and mind of people today. Father Sillers was truly someone to remember, I know I will. He was at the age that most men retire, but he was just getting started. Father Sillers was an insperation to us all and a true saint. He will dearly be loved and missed.

    Dear Lord,
    Please Comfort Father Sillers as he goes into you kingdom. Guide him and let him life an eternal, happy second life. He has done so many great things for us, now you may do great things for him.