Sister M. Melanie's Services
Private Mass of Resurrection at Sacred Heart Convent, Tuesday, Nov. 17; private burial, Roselawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Wednesday, Nov. 18. A memorial mass will be held at Sacred Heart Convent at a later date.
Memorials to honor the memory of Sister M. Melanie may be made to the Dominican Sisters Retirement Fund, 1237 W. Monroe St., Springfield, IL, 62704. The Dominican Sisters and friends of Sister M. Melanie are served by Butler Funeral Homes.
Springfield Dominican Sister M. Melanie Roetker, OP, died peacefully, Monday, November 16, at Sacred Heart Convent. She was born in Mattoon in 1942 to Harold C. and Elsie (Knollenberg) Roetker and baptized Mary Melanie. She joined the Dominicans in 1960 and professed her vows in 1962 at Sacred Heart Convent, Springfield, Ill.
Sister M. Melanie’s ministerial life is segmented in roughly two parts. For the first 27 years she educated middle school children. During 10 years at St. Mary School, Assumption, she was simultaneously principal and taught English to grades 4-8 for four of those years. She also taught in Springfield, Morrisonville, Elgin, Decatur, and Chicago. After four years at the Hillsboro Religious Education Center she began a second phase of ministry in retreat work and spiritual direction, ministering first at Benincasa, the Dominican Renewal Center in Riverton, and then at Jubilee Farm. She continued to direct group retreats and provide individual spiritual guidance until 2017.
Sister M. Melanie was preceded in death by her parents. An only child, she enjoyed a rich life of joy and creativity with her Dominican Sisters and many friends who shared her appreciation for the spiritual life.
3 thoughts on “Sister Mary Melanie Roetker, OP”
RIP Sister Mary Melanie, my favorite teacher EVER! She was tall and lithe, and when I was a geeky 4th grader who had reached my full 5’9” height, she gave me a Parade Magazine cover story of the supermodels of the day, pointing out that the shortest was 5’9”. She encouraged me to stand tall and proud. We stayed in touch sporadically over the years, each reunion a joyous communion. The last time we met, I’d returned from a long stint in East Africa. We poured over photos, talked stories, broke bread and shared a bottle of good wine. Her advice to me was always compassionate, nonjudgmental and loving. I’m glad she knew how very much she meant to me.❤️
Sister Melanie loved being a Dominican. Our mandate, “To praise, to bless, and to preach” was how she lived, always finding new ways to do so. I could also add, “to befriend,” for that is how I shall always remember her, a dear and faithful friend. A warm welcome from her joyful person was what everyone seemed to get.
I remember the beginning days of Benincasa Retreat Center in Riverton. She invited me to come from Chicago to guide some retreats there. The sisters worked hard to make this place a welcoming and sacred space, claiming a large room for the chapel and another for retreat conferences. Simple beauty marked all they did and Melanie’s sense of what is appropriate and beautiful was evident.
I will also remember Melanie for her ability to listen, and to listen deeply to others, as a friend as well as a very competent spiritual director. On one occasion I brought her a story of assault and betrayal to which she offered no advice, only her friendship, a few words, compassion and silent support. It was exactly what the story called for. She considered me to be her brother Dominican, treating me with respect and kindness. She encouraged me in my dream to form the interfaith spirituality center through which I have ministered since 1993. Many challenges were met with the friendship and encouragement of Melanie.
Sister Melanie takes her place now with the Dominican family who have gone before her. We mourn her loss as we wait for the joyful day of our reunion in the Reign of God. Rest in the Lord now, friend.
– Joseph Kilikevice OP
Father Joe, thank you for your beautiful tribute to Sister Melanie.