Sister Alice Okie – 75 Years

Born in Detroit, Michigan, to Polish immigrant parents, Sister Alice entered the Community in 1945. “I had never heard of the Mission Helpers,” she recalls.  “But I wanted to join a missionary order and wrote letters to five communities.  I was at work when the Mission Helpers letter arrived; my sister opened it and called me.  ‘This is it!’ she said, and she was right.”

That was 75 years ago, and Sister Alice says, “It’s been a wonderful life!”  Her early years with the Mission Helpers were spent working with young children at nursery schools in New Jersey.

Later, her ministry in religious education expanded to include hearing-impaired children in Michigan and Massachusetts. On a typical day she remembers that she took census in the morning and taught religion in the public schools in the afternoon—”we could do that back then.”

Back in her native Detroit, she was focused on the hearing impaired children.  On Tuesdays and Wednesdays she taught religion at two different schools for the hearing impaired.  She spent summers at a camp for the children, teaching religion and overseeing crafts and recreational activities.

In the 1980s, she was called to hospital and nursing home visitations, and later, visiting the homebound, a ministry that she continued well into her 80’s.

Today, at age 95, Sister Alice lives in St. Elizabeth’s Retirement Community in Timonium, Maryland.  She is a “presence” in the hallways and public areas greeting all those she encounters.  She’s an avid “shopper,” boarding the bus for the Dollar Store as often as possible. “I love it here,” she says, “everyone is wonderful.”

As she reflects on her 75 years in ministry, she says that although she loved visiting the sick and the homebound, it was working with the hearing impaired children, teaching them religion and being with them in the summer camps, that brought her the most joy.