Sister Mary Alice of the Blessed Sacrament, OCD
After 82 years in the vineyard of our Lord, Sr. Mary Alice Grace entered into eternal life on August 14, 2019. Hers was truly a “Eucharistic vocation” drawn by our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament at an early age. She was born on July 26, 1920 to Eugene and Eleanor (Albright) Grace, the first of two daughters. Her sister, Mildred, was born over a year later. While attending grade school at St. Scholastica’s in Aspinwall, PA, Mary Alice began to “make a visit” to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament during her recess and as she went to and from school. It was at this time that she began to feel drawn to religious life.
For her religious life meant being a Franciscan like the Sisters of St. Francis who taught her. After her father died when she was twelve, Mary Alice began to attend daily Mass and her desire for religious life continued to grow. She entered Mt. Alvernia Prep School at thirteen years old as an aspirant to the Sisters of St. Francis. It was there that she was given initial instruction in mental prayer and spiritual reading. One of the books that she read was a life of a Poor Clare Nun, Marie Celine of the Presentation. It was after reading this book, that she first felt drawn to cloistered religious life. Mary Alice confided this to her directoress but was told it was a temptation. So she continued with the Sisters of St. Francis and entered the novitiate in 1937. While in formation she continued to desire cloistered religious life and asked her novice mistress if she had a contemplative vocation. Again she was told it was a temptation so she made her vows as a Franciscan.
After her simple profession, she attended Duquesne University and a year later began teaching. Sr. Mary Alice loved teaching. She taught 4th grade at St. Ann’s in Millvale, 6th grade at St George and St Augustine, 7th and 8th grade at St. Peter’s in Butler, PA. Through all the moving from school to school she kept “rooted in Christ” in the Blessed Sacrament in the chapels of each of the schools. He was her “home”. Later Sr. Mary Alice was placed with a superior who also desired a cloistered life. It was this superior who encouraged her to speak to the Mother General, who directed her to speak to their Religious Superior, a Third Order Regular Franciscan. It was Dr. Doyle T.O.R. who asked the Prioress, Mother Mary Barrett, to accept Sr. Mary Alice for the foundation in Little Rock, AR. On December 21, 1950 she entered the Carmel of St. Teresa of Jesus in Little Rock. The following year on December 22, 1951 she made her solemn vows.
Sr. Mary Alice always loved teaching and the Franciscan order and its Sisters but felt Carmel was where she belonged. Our Lady held a special place in her heart as she bore her name both in Baptism and as a religious. This love and devotion grew over her many years in Carmel. She was a pillar in her community and served in many capacities during her 68 years in Carmel including a term as Prioress, Sub prioress and many years as Novice Mistress. During her many years in Carmel she baked altar breads, whole wheat bread to sell, took care of the habits and tunics, played the organ and helped with music. She loved to garden and correspond with the many people who wrote to the nuns asking for prayers. She also assisted the Carmel of New Orleans from 1992 until 2001, serving as Prioress. She was known for her simplicity, joy and guileless nature.
She is preceded in death by her sister Mildred (Grace) March and her husband Robert March. She is survived by her nephews James March(Sue) and Richard March and by her great nephews Jeremy and Brian March and her beloved Carmelite Nuns, Carmelite Friars at Marylake, and Carmelite Seculars. The Carmelite Nuns are very grateful to all those from Arkansas Hospice and Home helpers who helped care for Sr. Mary Alice.
Visitation at the Carmelite Monastery Chapel will began at 11am on Friday August 16th with Vigil and Rosary at 7pm. The Funeral Mass will be on Saturday August 17th at 9:30 am at the Carmelite Monastery Chapel, 7201 West 32nd Street, Little Rock, AR. Burial will follow.