Every year around the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, Very Rev. Peter Lickman opened up his Northeast Miami-Dade church to all creatures — from cats and snakes to birds and ferrets.
“Each animal is precious in God’s sight and has an animal soul,” Lickman told the Miami Herald after a service in 2003 where he blessed each animal with holy water. “We are here to pray for their longevity and for their good health.”
Lickman, the pastor of St. Basil Byzantine Catholic Church for more than four decades, died Tuesday after a brief illness. He was 70.
“He cared a great deal about all living things,” said Sharon Sbrissa, the president of the Ives Estates Neighborhood Association. “I feel privileged that he was a part of my life.”
Born April 20, 1943, in New Philadelphia, Pa., Lickman was the youngest of four children. He graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and continued his theological studies at SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Michigan. He then went to John the XXLIII Center at Fordham University in New York for additional religious education.
In 1968, Lickman was ordained as a priest by the late Bishop Stephen Kocisko in Passaic, N.J.
Soon after, he had the opportunity to begin building the Byzantine Church in the Ives Estates community. So in 1971, he moved to South Florida to begin growing the membership.
“The church was his life,” said Estie Vogel, his secretary for 18 years.
Lickman, who lived in the rectory of the small church that served about 100 families, could often be found in his vegetable garden, playing with his dogs or watching kids play football.
Longtime church member Janice Kasbar said Lickman had a deep love for the Liturgy, had a great sense of humor and loved to help those in need.
“He kept our parish together like glue,” said Kasbar, who joined about 20 years ago and lives about eight blocks from the church. “He was a father to us all.”
Lickman is survived by his sister Irene Leister and his brother John Lickman.
A viewing will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at St. Basil Byzantine Catholic Church, 1475 NE 199th St. There will be a Parastas Service at 7 p.m. that same evening. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Basil. A luncheon will follow the services.