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Sister Mary Alexia (Thea Agatha Streicher)

List of Deceased Sisters

Date of Death 05/05/2021

Sr Mary Alexia smsm

April 13th, 1930 – May 5th , 2021

SMSM SistersThea Agatha Streicher was born in Weissenborn-Luderode, Germany on April 13th, 1930, one of six children of Otto Streicher and Maria Herzberb Streicher.     She was only 9 years old when the Second World War began and was 15 when the war ended and the Eastern part of Germany, where she lived, was occupied by the USSR. 

At the age of 18, she said she “jumped the border” to the West which was then occupied by American, British, and French troops.  She stayed in West Germany and studied to become a nurse, then worked for several years before she was able to emigrate to the USA in order to enter the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary in Bedford, Massachusetts on July 31st, 1958. She received the name “Sr. Mary Alexia” as a novice and made her first vows on March 9th, 1961.

For much of her life, Sr. Mary Alexia served people who had Hansen’s disease – first in Jamaica (1962), then the Ivory Coast (1972), and finally at Twomey Hospital in Suva, Fiji (1982).  At her 50th Jubilee, in 2008, she described the differences in these three experiences:

“In Jamaica in 1962, [she wrote] they still had isolation requirements and the patients remained for several years at Hansen Home. But the place was pulsing with life. We had about 40 children and 15 teenagers among the 100 or so patients there.  Surely you can imagine what that was like!”

She found the Ivory Coast (1972-81) very different.  The hospital was quite isolated, about 15 miles into a virgin forest.  There the main focus of her work was laboratory work and collaborating in research with Venezuela and New York.

Sr Alexia arrived in Fiji in 1982 to work at Twomey Hospital in Suva.  There she found yet another way of working with people with Hansen’s Disease. The World Health Organization had introduced a Multi-Drug Therapy, for which Fiji was a pilot area.  There were training courses at the hospital, as well as service and training carried out in the outer islands. Those who knew Alexia in Fiji during those days, knew that she loved most the opportunity to travel to the outer islands to teach and to serve people in remote areas.

At the celebration of her 50th jubilee she told us, “I am happy and consider it a privilege and a blessing to have worked with and for the Hansen’s patients, a people purified by so much physical and mental suffering. Always mindful and compassionate towards their fellow patients.”

In 1994, after the Berlin Wall had fallen, and Germany had become reunified, our Sisters opened a new mission in Dessau, in the former East Germany.  Sr. Mary Alexia felt that she had come “full circle” in being missioned to her homeland.  She later wrote, “The people there had suffered for 65 years under the Communists.  They had lost much of their self-esteem, trust and confidence.  They were truly a people with many needs.  We found much joy in working and walking with them. Their response was beautiful.  May the Good Lord continue to encourage them.”

Sr. Mary Alexia arrived back in the USA and in the community at 62 Newton Street in 2010.  Ever since then she has been of service to the Sisters here in many ways, especially to those who were ill or suffering from memory loss.  As a hobby, she made beautiful candles, artfully decorated, and given as gifts to those celebrating special occasions. She was always alert to whatever was happening. You could expect from her serious questions and honest answers.  She also had a good sense of humor, and a beautiful smile.

Four years ago, when six Sisters in Temporary Vows arrived here from different countries for a program of Ongoing Formation, followed by online studies from Domuni University, Sr Alexia took an interest in each one, and they, in turn grew to appreciate her.   She challenged them, as she has all of us at some time or other, and they seemed to understand that that challenge was coming from her sisterly love, for which we can all be grateful.    

Sr Alexia had been suffering from cancer for some time and was in and out of hospital.   She preferred to die “at home” and her wish was granted when she died at 62 Newton Street, at 10am on the morning of May 5th, 2021.

Hers was a life full of courage and compassion.  We are grateful to have known her and can only hope and pray to be able to follow her example. 

Contemplating Mary,
we try to let ourselves be led by God, as she was, through the events of life.
Day by day we prepare to meet the Lord
when He comes again to take us to Himself. “Yes, come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20)

SMSM Constitutions #268

Gratefully in Mary,       


Sister Helen Muller, smsm                                                        Sister Virginia Fornasa, smsm

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