Agatha and Melithon

16 Nov

Whenever I meet a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, I tell her that I am a “charity case,” meaning that I was taught by the Sisters of Charity when I was in grade school at St. Jude. The Sisters of Charity, those sisters who taught me in grade school, are partly responsible for me being a priest today, especially Sister Mary Agatha and Sister Melithon. The other day I went to the Motherhouse cemetery in Delhi to find the graves of the two of them. P1070090 As I stood over each, I simply said, “You were the one who said that I might make a good priest. So, help me to be one now.”

Sister Agatha was my seventh grade teacher. When it came time to bid farewell to the eighth graders a year ahead of us, someone decided that we would do a “funeral” for the soon to be graduates, complete with casket, mourners, dark candles and dirges. Sister Agatha decided that I would be the minister, apparently doing some sort of subtle type casting. I remember that I wore the tux of the father of one of the girls in the class. Years later I was doing a chaplain internship at Good Samaritan Hospital. On the list of my visits one day was Sister Mary Agatha. I went into her room, with Roman collar and white hospital jacket, to find out from her that she had cancer. However many times I told her that I was not yet a priest, she kept insisting on calling me, “Father.” We kids remembered her as very strict. We would have said “mean,” remembering a tale, whether or not true I have no idea, that she gave a kid a bloody nose. All we knew for sure was that he left classroom with her in a hurry and came back in with a bloodied tissue held to his nose. Certainly, she had clobbered him, we knew.


Sister Mary Agatha, “You were the one who said that I might make a good priest. So, help me to be one now.”

Sister Melithon was the principal when I was in the fifth grade. After school one day all the boys who wanted to be servers were in the same classroom. Sister Melithon looked over the group and told the nun in the room with her, “Sister, everyone is okay, except those two boys back in the corner by the window.” She pointed to me and the kid behind me. Somehow she had decided that I would not be a server. Even though no one questioned Sister Melithon, I have assumed that it had something to do with my liking to tease the girls. Sister Melithon has a lasting place in my vocation tale, as I boast that I thought at that moment, “I’ll show that nun! I’ll invite her to my first Mass.” In three years she changed her tune a bit. I was one of the eight grade boys that she waned to visit the seminary for a tour and a lunch of hot dogs and baked beans. As a seminarian, we used to refer to those days of visits of little kids, “zoo days.” I am cluless as to why she shifted from thinking that I could not serve the priest at the altar to thinking that I could be the priest at the altar.


Sister Melithon, “You were the one who said that I might make a good priest. So, help me to be one now.”

6 Responses to “Agatha and Melithon”

  1. hopevoices November 16, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    That’s sweet!
    JoAnne Lacey

  2. Cathy O'Toole November 17, 2014 at 5:43 am #

    Sister Agatha was Irish! How could she have possibly been mean? Wise, maybe but never mean!

  3. shirley cochran November 17, 2014 at 7:28 am #

    Tell sister you made it! Many will back you up!

  4. Dixie November 17, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Some day in the very faroff
    time you tell her you made a GREAT Priest,and that you are loved by the way.

  5. Char Hinners November 17, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    It looks like they both are still rooting for you “upstairs” !!!! Bet they are proud of you!

  6. Chris Nunner November 18, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    We are convinced! Apparently they were, too!

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