KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Father Bernard Lickteig, O.Carm., 91, loved laughter, travel, his family and education — both as a student and teacher.
Father Bernard, who served as a pastor and educator at several locations as a member of the Carmelite order for 73 years, died on Nov. 26 at Villa St. Francis in Olathe. He was a member of the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary Order of Carmelites.
“He was a good friend, a good priest and a good Carmelite,” said Father Aaron Peters, OSB. “He was always available to people if they needed to see him. He had a good sense of humor and liked to tell jokes.”
Father Bernard was born to Francis Joseph Lickteig and Elizabeth (Wolken) Lickteig on Jan. 6, 1921, in Greeley. His baptismal name was Fabian Phillip Lickteig. Fabian, his parents and 11 siblings were members of St. John the Baptist Parish in Greeley. After his studies at the parish school, he continued his education at Mount Carmel Junior Seminary in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. When he was 18 years old, he received the Carmelite habit and, on Aug. 14, 1939, took the religious name “Bernard.”
Brother Bernard made his first vows on Aug. 15, 1940, at New Baltimore, Pa. He entered Mount Carmel College and graduated with a degree in philosophy in 1943, before professing solemn vows as a Carmelite on Aug. 15, 1943, in Washington, D.C.
He resumed his studies at Catholic University of America and received a bachelor of science in education in 1946. He was ordained a priest on June 8, 1946, at St. Clara Church in Chicago.
Father Bernard continued with his education after ordination. He earned advanced degrees in math and German in 1949 from DePaul University in Chicago, and in education and chemistry in 1952 from the University of Chicago. He also studied counseling in 1974 at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz.
Father Bernard’s first assignment was at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, where he taught for four years. Then he joined the Our Lady of the Scapular Carmelite Community and staff of the Carmelite Retreat House in Hamilton, Mass.
During the nine years he served in retreat work, Father Bernard also taught at the Carmelite Junior Seminary. In his last year of retreat work, he promoted the Carmelite-sponsored St. Therese Chapel in the North-Shore Mall Shopping Center in Peabody, Mass.
In 1960, Father Bernard became a teacher at Mount Carmel High School in Houston. After three years, he became pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in Englewood, N.J. He was also elected as second councilor for the Most Pure Heart of Mary Province and served in that position for three years.
After nine years as pastor of St. Cecilia, he became associate pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Phoenix, where he also served in provincial administration. In 1978, Father Bernard became pastor of St. Therese Parish in Cresskill, N. J., for two years. Next, he became pastor of St. Raphael Parish in Glendale, Ariz., for nine years. In 1989, he returned to Texas and became associate pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Houston. Next, he served as associate pastor of St. Albert Parish in Houston.
In 1991, Father Bernard moved to St. Boniface Parish and the Carmelite priory in Scipio. After assisting in parish work for three years, he became associate pastor of Immaculate Conception/ St. Joseph Parish in Leavenworth.
In 1996, Father Bernard retired to St. Boniface Parish in Scipio. After five years there, he moved in 2001 to St. John the Baptist Parish in Greeley. He later moved to Casa Santa Teresita, the pre-novitiate community in Houston, where he lived until March 2007. When the pre-novitiate community moved to Chicago, he returned to Kansas and resided at Villa St. Francis in Olathe until his death.
Father Bernard loved to travel, and his journeys took him throughout the United States and Europe.
“He was an all-around good person to be around,” said Father Aaron. “He was a sociable person and he liked people.”
He came from a large and devout family, and many of his relatives became priests and women religious.
Father Bernard was preceded in death by his parents; his sisters, Beatrice Gilner, Agatha Meyers and Irma Miller; and brothers, Alfred, Raymond, Dominic and Father Fergus Lickteig, O. Carm. He is survived by his sister Elizabeth Gellhaus, his brother Francis, and many nieces and nephews.
“I remember many visits to [Uncle] Gene and [Aunt] Irma’s house when he was there, and many stories and lots of laughter,” wrote Kathe (Miller) Solo in a memorial note. “He would also come to visit my folks’ house and we all enjoyed [his visits]. I will never forget his laugh! We were all blessed to have known him!”
In another memorial note, Sandie Fritz wrote that the family lost a treasure of family knowledge and faith.
“Thank you, Father Bernard, for the many fond memories that I hold in my heart from the Lickteig reunions and gatherings,” wrote Fritz. “I will miss, but never forget, your big hugs that you always had available for everyone, your smile and the twinkle in your eyes.”
A Mass of Christian burial for Father Bernard was celebrated at St. John the Baptist in Greeley on Dec. 3, followed by burial at St. Boniface Cemetery in Scipio.
Donations in honor of Father Bernard may be made to: The Society of Mount Carmel, 1317 N. Frontage Road, Darien, IL 60561. —
Additional reporting by Joe Bollig