Biographies

Sister Mary Alicia Shader, MM

Born: June 30, 1908
Entered: October 15, 1928
Died: May 10, 1980

Shortly after midnight, in the early morning hours of Saturday, May 10th, 1980, Sister Mary Alicia Shader died at our Maryknoll Nursing Home and began her eternal life in Christ Jesus.

Sister Alicia was born on June 30, 1908 in Troy, New York, and was baptized “Anna Gladys” two weeks later. Gladys, as she was then called, had little opportunity for a prolonged education and, as a young woman, engaged in cooking and laundry work, and also became an excellent seamstress. She entered Maryknoll on October 15th, 1928. At Reception, she received the name Sister Mary Alicia. She made her first vows on January 6, 1931 and her final vows 3 years later in Hawaii.

In talking with some of Sister Alicia’s friends and other members of her group of 1928, I discovered an interesting bit of historical data. When the 40 or so young women came to Maryknoll that year, they filled the existing facilities to overflowing. The Motherhouse was yet to be built; so, they filled up the old farm house, “Regina Coeli”, where the Cloister now stands, and others were scattered around in old St. Teresa’s and the Chalet. Hers was the first group to use the Chalet. Hers also was one of 2 or 3 groups required to bring with them 8 pairs of shoes! Some post-Golden Jubilarians from that group still claim to be wearing theirs out!

Sister Alicia spent over 25 years in Hawaii, from 1931 to 1956. She was one of the first group to open St. Augustine’s in Waikiki. She later spent many years in the Children’s Home on Maui. During the war years, she carried the extra burdens of work and anxiety with the other Sisters. At another point in her time in Hawaii she was in charge of the Sodality at Saint Catherine’s in Nuuanu, Honolulu. Two members of that Sodality, now Maryknoll Sisters Bernadette and Mary Louise Higa, remember how Sister Alicia helped them prepare to enter Maryknoll.

Over the years in Hawaii and after 1956, at St. Teresa’s and at Bethany, Sister Alicia is remembered as a generous and hard worker, a wonderful seamstress, a person with a good sense of humor and dry wit. She had a strong will and a deep concern for others.

Sister was assigned to Cohoes, New York in September, 1977 where she was the first to start a new kind of apostolate for Senior Sisters at a Federal Housing Project for senior citizens. Sister Alicia’s sister, was instrumental in getting Maryknoll Sisters to start this new work. She suggested to Sister Alicia that Maryknoll Senior Sisters come to live there and be a caring presence in the building. So, Sister Alicia was one of the first to go. While at Cohoes, she took Communion to the residents, and visited the people to check on those who might be ill, or just to sit and talk and relax a bit. She helped organize “Meals on Wheels” and other activities for some of the residents. We now have Senior Sisters in 3 places in New York involved in this special apostolate.

Sister Alicia’s last assignment was to the Nursing Home in 1979. It was there that she died after a short illness.

We are very happy to have with us at Maryknoll today members of Sister Alicia’s family. We extend our prayers and sympathy to her whole extended family.

The beautiful flowers on the altar and in the sanctuary are from Sister Alicia’s family, and from friends in Hawaii, the white and red ginger especially expressive of their fond “Aloha” to one they knew and loved so well.

The Mass of the Resurrection was concelebrated in the main Chapel at 11:00 a.m. today by Maryknoll Fathers John K. Halbert, principal celebrant, assisted by Gervis J. Coxen, James J. Logue, Frank S. Meccia, and Robert E. Sheridan.