Sister M. Alicia Lechner
Marie Agnes Lechner was born in Los Angeles on December 29, 1919 and was baptized a few days later at St. Vibiana Cathedral. When she was three, Marie’s family moved to Eagle Rock, the town that has become a source of pride for her. In 1925 Marie entered St. Dominic’s School as a first grader. Six of the fourteen members of their eighth grade graduating class had been together in the school since first grade. Marie was voted most likely to become a Dominican Sister.
At home Marie learned skills that she would use for life. Her father, a building contractor with a plastering and cement-finishing background, taught his daughter to read building plans and to do some of the math involved. Her mother, an accomplished homemaker, taught Marie and her sister cooking, meal preparation, household chores, and sewing.
As a teenager Marie attended St. Andrew’s High School in Pasadena and on weekends taught catechism in a neighboring parish. During the summers she taught Mexican children in Rose Hill parish every day.
Marie entered the novitiate in 1937 and when she received the habit, became Sister Mary Alicia. After her first profession in 1939 Sister Alicia attended Dominican College and received her BA. When during the summer retreat of 1942 Sister Alicia was sent as a substitute to care for the children at St. Catherine’s, Benicia she fell in love with the place and hoped to be missioned there. However, her first teaching assignment was first grade at St. Dominic’s, San Francisco. While unpacking her trunk for a second year at St. Dominic’s, Sister Alicia received a surprise change in assignment–to Benicia. At St. Catherine’s she taught first and second grades and lived in the boys’ dormitory. She loved the roles of teacher in the classroom, mother in the dorm. During her last two years there—WWII years and food stamps–Sister Alicia managed the kitchen.
Sister Alicia next went to St. Angela’s in Pacific Grove (1948-51) where she adjusted to life in a small house of four sisters. Other teaching years followed–St. Dominic’s in San Francisco, St. Raphael’s and Blessed Sacrament in San Rafael. While teaching 7th grade at St. Dominic’s, Sister Alicia managed the kitchen at St. Rose Academy. Duties of a similar nature followed when she later became manager of the College kitchen.
Sister Alicia spent several years of involvement in various construction plans for the congregation: Caleruega, Pennafort, Alemany Library in the College, and a building addition at Santa Sabina. She was involved also with the building plans for San Domenico in San Anselmo, Siena High School and Convent in Napa, St. Mary’s Convent in Reno, and St. Michael’s Convent in Livermore, all the while being Chief Financial Officer of the College until 1986.
After 1986 Sister Alicia maintained the College archives, planned the telephone system for the College, worked on the motherhouse kitchen renovation. In 1993 she returned to the College business office to work on loan collections and the physical inventory.
Finally after years of intense professional duties, in 1998 Sister Alicia retired from the College, only to go in new directions–keeping busy with all the projects she had set aside to do someday. In her final days, Sister Alicia did just that-doing the projects she had planned for someday.