Sister M. Matthias Lickteig, MM
Born: November 12, 1898
Entered: August 17, 1923
Died: March 18, 1998
Less than eight months short of celebrating her 100th birthday, Sister Mary Matthias Lickteig died peacefully on Thursday, March 18, 1998 at 4:20 p.m. in the Assisted Living Facility at Maryknoll, New York.
Margaret Lickteig, affectionately called Maggie by her family and friends, was born November 12, 1898 in Greeley, Kansas, one of ten children – six sons and four daughters – to Josephine Ayers and Joseph Lickteig. Three of the ten children entered religious life: Maggie (our Sister Matthias), her sister, Sister Fleurine, a Franciscan Sister and her brother, Father Timothy. Her other sisters and brothers married and several of their children and grandchildren are with us today. Margaret received her education at St. John’s School in Greeley, Kansas and the District Grammar School in Anderson County, Kansas.
When Margaret was twenty-three years old, she accompanied a friend of hers to a convent in Greeley. Her friend wanted to be a Sister but was afraid to go ask some questions on her own. During the meeting, the Sister turned to Margaret and asked her what she was going to do with her life. After all, she was twenty-three years old. Margaret replied that she wanted to be a missionary but there was no group around. The Sister gave her a copy of The Field Afar and told her to read up on that group. Margaret wrote to Mother Mary Joseph and for six months did not hear a word. She said that she felt they were not interested. Finally, a letter from Mother Mary Joseph arrived and said that the letter was waiting for her on her return from overseas and the rest we know. Margaret entered Maryknoll on August 17, 1923 at the age of twenty-five. She was one of Maryknoll’s true pioneers, willing to join with the women who were casting their lot with a virtually unknown religious group of women.
At Reception, Margaret received the religious name of Sister Mary Matthias, the name she retained throughout her seventy-four years as a Maryknoll Sister. She made her First Vows on April 30, 1926 at Maryknoll, New York and in 1927 was in the first group of Sisters assigned to Honolulu, Hawaii.
Four years later, Sister was assigned to Monrovia, California, where she began the remaining sixty-seven years of her missionary life: twenty-seven at Monrovia, twenty-five at Bethany, ten at the Center, four at the Venard in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania and one in Valley Park, Missouri. She was a gifted woman and whatever she did she did well – whether it was cooking a meal for the Sisters, serving as guest mistress, working in the garden, teaching catechetics, mending, caring for the sick, or working in the Multigraph Department at the Center.
In 1991, at the age of ninety-three, failing health brought Sister back from Monrovia to her home on Riverside Corridor at the Center. So much of who we are and what we do springs from our roots and this was true of Sister Matthias. While “walking” in her one hundredth year, Sister was still a worker for the Stamp Department, a hostess to bridge parties, a loving, caring member of a large family and a devoted Maryknoll Sister who liked Riverside parties!
In her work for the Stamp Department, she collaborated with Sister Leona Michiels and was one of the top contributors of neatly cut and carefully sorted stamps. Her desk and one windowsill of her Riverside room were always filled with her pre- and post- production. Her dedication and belief in the importance of the Stamp Department were so great that even on days when her hidden physical complaints might have kept her in bed for an extra hour or two, she did not neglect this favorite ministry of hers.
Sister’s alert mind was evident in her bridge playing. But who could play bridge and not prepare refreshments? Not Sister Matthias. From her personal allowance, she would buy beer (in honor of her German ancestors!) and cheese and crackers for her bridge partners on a regular weekly basis.
On her desk – and in it – would be correspondence and photographs from her family – nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews and cousins. She loved and kept in close contact with all. She was proud of her family and their love for her was evident as annually several of her nieces and nephews would come to Maryknoll to celebrate her birthday with her.
Faithfully, Sister would make her annual Retreat and participate in Reconciliation and Sacrament of the Sick Liturgies. When asked what she would enjoy doing during vacations, her response was always “a picnic by the Hudson and the open refreshment bar.” She referred to the special candies and treats as the open refreshment bar which were available for the duration of vacation.
As we celebrate this Eucharist, we thank God for the life of Sister Matthias, a woman of principle, the epitome of graciousness, heroic generosity and courtesy.
We offer our deepest sympathy to Sister Matthias’ relatives and friends. We thank each of you for the joy you brought to Sister throughout her long life. We welcome and thank our Maryknoll brother, Father Emile Dumas, who will celebrate this Liturgy of Christian Burial with us.