Madeline Frances Cavanaugh, born on April 4,1933 in Sayre, Pennsylvania was the last of the 11 children born to Patrick and Agnes Cavanaugh. Madeline had two brothers: Joseph and James. She had eight sisters: Catherine, Rita, Marcella, Madonna, Teresa, Agnes, Marie and Doris. Madeline was educated in the Williamsport, PA elementary school and St Joseph High School in Williamsport. Madeline had to face two challenges early in her life. Her father died from cancer when she was just 10 years old. And, ten years later, Madeline's mother died suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage. After graduation in 1952, Madeline was employed to work for a braiding factory. At age 20, she started to reflect on a call to religious life, and she applied to join the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. She started her postulancy training at St. Michael Novitiate in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on September 12, 1953. Six months later, Madeline Frances Cavanaugh received the religious habit and was given the name Sister Mary Alicia. Her novitiate program continued for two years. On July 2, 1956, Sister Alicia pronounced her First Vows.
After her First Profession, Sister Alicia started a series of assignments in the ministry of education for the next 17 years. She taught at schools staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in Fords and Paramus, NJ, and at Sylmar, Panorama City and South San Francisco in California. A significant change was her six years of serving in the Mukumu Boys School in Kenya, East Africa. During her years of ministry, Sr. Alicia also managed to study for and graduate with a BA and two MA Degrees. Sister Alicia joined the staff at the St. Joseph Magazine office for two years in 1980 to 1982. She then became committed to religious education on the parish and archdiocesan areas. In 1994 she began a ministry of pastoral care at St. Mary's parish in Nutley, NJ. She served there until 2004. She said, "The assignment I love the most is pastoral associate for the elderly. It has been the most enriching of all my ministries these past ten years." Sisters who lived and worked with Sister Alicia were touched by her compassion and kindness to them and to others.
From 2005 to January 2015, Sister Alicia served the needs of others in a variety of ways. She helped the elderly to shop or transported them to dentists and doctors. She helped sick family members as needed. Toward the end of 2014, Sister Alicia's health began to fail. She developed several medical complications. However, despite medical treatment, she was not able to recover. In the fall of 2015, Sister Alicia was placed on hospice care. She died quietly in the infirmary at St. Michael's on December 5, 2015. Her funeral mass was offered on December 11, 2015 in the St. Michael Villa chapel by Father James McDonald. Sister Alicia was buried in the Cavanaugh family plot in the Wildwood Cemetery in Williamsport, PA. Sister Alicia was predeceased by her two brothers and eight sisters. She was survived by her two sisters Doris and Marcella Cavanaugh and several nieces and nephews.
"It is most important to inspire the young with a great love of peace."
Mother Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack)