Sister Mary Letitia Stephenson, MM

Born: March 18, 1906
Entered: October 11, 1925
Died: September 6, 1977

On September 8th, the feast of Our Lady’s Birthday, we celebrated the Eucharist of the Resurrection for our Sister M. Letitia Stephenson, who died at Bethany Convent at 1:10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 6th. Maryknoll Bishop Edward A. McGurkin, and Maryknoll Fathers Robert E. Sheridan and Frank S. Meccia concelebrated the Eucharist as we joined with Sister’s family, including her own sister, in a song of praise for the gift of Sister Letitia’s life in Maryknoll.

Agnes Gertrude Stephenson was born in Dorchester, Mass, on March 18, 1906. She was educated in schools in Boston, where she worked for some five years before entering Maryknoll in October, 1925. Following her profession of vows in 1928, Sister was assigned to Los Angeles, where she worked in a home for Japanese children doing catechetical work, office work and the inevitable books. In 1932, she turned to our Maryknoll Cloister, where she passed three years serving her Lord and His mission through prayer and contemplation. In 1935, she went to Seattle, Washington where she worked for some time in a day nursery. Between the years 1938 to 1954, with the exception of two years spent in Guadalupe, California, Sister Letitia gave her untiring efforts to work in the Seminary kitchen and the “Field Afar” office. 1954 found her in Stockton, California, where for seven years she developed an effective CCD Program for nearly 2000 children of two different parishes. She served as the organizer, teacher trainer, and parish coordinator of this program.

In 1961, Sister Letitia flew to Hawaii and opened the ledgers once more, this time at Maryknoll High School in Honolulu. Her soft voice and manner dealt with a myriad crowd of students, faculty, salespersons and delivery men. In April of 1976, Sister came to Monrovia.

Two strands were woven into the fabric of Sister Letitia’s life. Her love of Scripture and her devotion to the Eucharist were part of the pattern of each day. Her particular love of the Gospel of St. John focused on the last discourse of Jesus with His disciples. She often said,“That says it all,” after she would have said a few phrases from memory. During the years following Vatican II she noticed the increase of persons who received Communion at Sunday Mass. It pleased her that more people were sharing the love of her Lord, Whom she loved so much.

Sister Letitia’s gratitude for life and her joy in the presence of her Sisters seemed to grow in direct proportion to the physical diminishment of her body. Her gratitude to her parents, expressed in a note she left behind at her departure for Maryknoll, was echoed by her gratitude to all who aided her in the last difficult months. Knowing that she was suffering not only because of her illness, but also at having to leave her mission and the people whom she loved so dearly, we were all struck with her wholehearted embracing of the Father’s will for her. Her suffering and death, were not easy; and yet, she willingly and joyfully lived each moment of her death.