Looking into the life of Sister Melanie Marie!

Julia P. '26

In honor of National Catholic Sisters Week I interviewed the lovely Sister Melanie Marie who went and taught at OLSH to get to know more about her. 

Correct me if I’m wrong but I think that as a Sister you could have chosen a name after aSaint, so is that what you did or is your name actually Melanie Marie?

I was baptized Melanie Mae. Since we were encouraged to keep our baptismal names, I did so. An older Sister already had the name Mary Melanie, so I chose to be called Melanie Marie.

My patron is St. Melania the Younger, granddaughter of Saint Melania the Elder, and was a wealthy Roman patrician noble. She and her husband moved to their estate in North Africa at the time of St. Augustine who they met there. This couple sold their lands and goods in Spain and Gaul and gave the proceeds to the poor. They also built two monasteries for Saint Augustine. St. Melania the Younger spent her last years in the convent on the Mount of Olives.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Berea, Ohio, a western suburb of Cleveland located 3 miles from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. It is home to Baldwin Wallace University (where several OLSH grads have furthered their education).

When you were a kid did you always go to a Catholic school?

Yes. I attended Saint Adalbert School from 1 st through 8 th grade where I was taught byFelician Sisters from Coraopolis, PA. While in grade school, I wanted to be a Sister so I applied to attend OLSH High School and was accepted.

What was OLSH like when you were there?

OLSH was an all-girls school, and it was smaller for two reasons. There were solid brown doors, like the entrance to the chapel now, at the end of each corridor just past the back stairwell to separate the school from the convent. The third floor consisted of dormitories and living quarters for boarding students and aspirants, along with bedrooms for some of the Sisters so it was off limits to the day students. Every OLSH student since 1970 has been a day student so there’s no need for that distinction anymore. However, outside, before the faculty parking lot and what is now Woodcrest Residence, there was a grassy field from Woodcrest Avenue all the way to the ravine where we enjoyed playing field hockey. The width extended to the evergreens at the edge of the parking lot.

What year did you graduate from OLSH?

I graduated in 1967. My class consisted of 35 girls, 3 of whom were aspirants.

How long have you been a sister?

I am in my 56th year as a Felician Sister, having entered the Congregation in August 1967.

 Why did you decide to become a sister?

I felt called to this vocation. I wanted to serve God. My parents were very active in the parish so they were good role models.

What do you like the most about being a sister?

I am supported and challenged by my sisters in Christ as we help each other to live out our Felician core values.

 According to Mrs. Glatz, you worked at OLSH from 1974 to 2003. If that’s true, what class did you teach?

I was in the Science Department in 1974 so I taught General Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The enrollment was 135 to 150 students so that was doable. The closure of local parish high schools led to an increase in enrollment at OLSH. More teachers were hired and in 1984 I switched to the Religion Department, taught Scripture to Freshmen as well as Study Skills. Since I was the Student Government Moderator 1977-2003, I offered a Leadership Class for elected officers. I conducted the first computer class at OLSH in the early “80s and taught keyboarding to Freshmen for several years after that.

Why did you choose to teach at OLSH?

I was assigned to teach at OLSH, so it wasn’t my choice. However, it is my alma mater and our Felician Sisters school, so why not?

While you were at OLSH you were “Rainbow the Clown”, tell me a little bit about that.

I attended a 24-hour interdenominational workshop on Christian clowning just before the school year started in 1984 because I had questions about clowns and to relax and end the summer break. In October I used the tins of makeup I had to purchase to learn how to apply it at the workshop at a Halloween party for the Sisters on a Saturday afternoon. At that time there were 40 sisters living here, some in our Infirmary who attended the party via wheelchair.

Why did you become a clown?

That party taught me that clowning was a way to be creative and free to express myself in a different way. The infirm Sisters enjoyed my antics such that I dressed as a clown one Sunday afternoon each month and visited them throughout that year. The next year another Religion teacher who was a clown, Mr. Tim Williams, and I, offered the Clown Troupe as an activity. With a good response, the OLSH, Our Laughter Soothes Hearts, Clown Troupe was formed. We visited hospitals, nursing homes, and individuals earned money by entertaining at birthday parties.

What is your favorite thing about OLSH?

I love the family atmosphere and the safe environment that OLSH provides.

What was one of your favorite memories at OLSH either when you were a student or a teacher?

As a student, I loved playing field hockey, many times the goalie. As a teacher and SG Moderator, I enjoyed the creativity of the students for fundraisers, especially the “Haunted Hallway” in October.

Do you miss teaching?

I miss the interactions with students and colleagues most.

After you stopped working at OLSH, what did you do?

I completed a master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry at Duquesne University to be a hospital chaplain. While looking for employment in this position, I was assigned to live at our international convent in Rome, Italy, and served as an English Language Secretary at the Vatican which I did for 10 years!

Now, I hear that you work in palliative care. What is that like?

Yes, I am a volunteer chaplain with the Palliative Care Team at Allegheny General Hospital. I receive a list of 25 to 50 patients from the team and visit as many as I can during the 5 hours that I spend 3 times a week there. Sometimes I only visit 4 or 5, other days 10 to 14. It is challenging yet very life-giving for me.

 Do you do anything in the community?

I am the Regional Coordinator of Justice and Peace for this part of Our Lady of Hope Province, Felician Sisters of North America.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I am the 5th of 8 children born to my parents, the 3rd of 6 reaching adulthood, and the third of three still enjoying this wonderful gift of life.


I am so glad I had the honor to interview Sister Melanie Marie. If you ever see her, definitely take the time to talk to her!!