Sister Patricia (Leone Marie) Melton
“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’” (Matthew 11:28)
“The invitation to ‘come to me’ happened very uniquely in Sister Pat’s early religious life. She was attending St. John Academy, Indianapolis, when, in the middle of her high school years, she inquired about completing her high school at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Her Sister of Providence sponsor, however, encouraged her to apply for entrance into the novitiate instead, which she did. She was accepted for July, having just turned 16 a few weeks before. Perhaps she was able to take the whole situation in stride because as a youngster, she had already attended 22 different grade schools in seven different states! Her father was in sales and the family went where he went,” said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Patricia “Pat” Melton, who died May 25.
Patricia Rose Melton was one of two children born to Leon and Mary (Maughn) Melton. She was born July 5, 1928, in Linton, Ind. She completed her high school courses at Providence Juniorate at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and entered the Congregation July 22, 1944, receiving the religious name Sister Leone Marie. She professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1947, and 1952, respectively. Sister Pat earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education from Indiana University.
Sister Pat began her teaching ministry at St. Patrick, Terre Haute, in 1947. In Indianapolis, she ministered at Holy Spirit, Immaculate Heart, St. Andrew, St. Agnes Academy, Ladywood-St. Agnes and the Latin School. She spent two years at Lady Isle, Portsmouth, N.H. In Illinois, she taught at St. Mary, Aurora; and St. Mel, St. Genevieve, St. Angela and St. Francis Borgia, Chicago. In 1978, Sister Pat began a new ministry as a parish program coordinator at Immaculate Conception, Rushville, Ind. From 1979 to 1996, she served as pastoral associate and later director of religious education at St. Mary Parish, Rushville, Ind. Sister Pat served as the coordinator of Ladywood-St. Agnes Alumnae Association from 1997 to 2003. She returned to the Woods in 2003.
“After her retirement, Sister Pat offered to be coordinator of the Ladywood-St. Agnes Alumnae Association and during those years she was able to re-connect with many of her former students, now parents, and, as the years when on, grandparents. One former student recalled: ‘Sister Pat had a slight tilt to her head and nodded in understanding as she listened to our tales. She was a wonderful listener!” said Sister Ann.
“Sister Pat is remembered as very intelligent and extremely talented, with an artistic flare. She was an excellent teacher and especially challenged her high school students as she taught classes in government, economics, current events and world problems. Her teaching was always enhanced by her own interest in reading and in keeping herself up-to-date and well informed,” continued Sister Ann.
“Another former student offered the word ‘grace’ as a one-word descriptor of Sister Pat. Grace in her teaching and listening style; grace in her appearance; grace in living with illness; and finally, grace in dying,’” shared Sister Ann.
“Sister Pat was also a very generous person. She frequently house sat for her Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Charlie Stuart and for many years availed herself of their generosity in inviting her to vacation at their condo in Florida. Sister Pat would always invite other sisters to go with her to Florida or to come to the house in Indianapolis to enjoy the outdoor pool and the well-stocked special treats in the food cabinets and freezer.
“As all of us know, Sister Pat has battled cancer for a number of years and in the course of doing so, has endured several serious surgeries. Recently, she had contracted shingles. Sister Pat had to be in a great deal of discomfort or pain most of the time, but she always minimized that when you visited her and quickly turned the conversation toward her visitor. Through all her struggles, she showed great strength, courage and endurance,” said Sister Ann.
“How often Sister Pat must have responded to Jesus’ invitation to ‘Come to me and I will give you rest,’ for one does not handle illness and suffering as she did without the strength that comes from prayer and unconditional acceptance. It must have been an easy response to that familiar summons last Thursday, when Sister Pat took her weariness and the heavy burdens of her illness one more time to Jesus. But this time, she received an unexpected answer — release from her suffering and rest in his Presence, for all eternity! So be it, Sister Pat! Amen!” said Sister Ann.
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