Current ministry location – Panama
Melinda Roper was born November 18, 1937 in Chicago, IL, to Marie (Voelker) Roper and Edwin Roper. She was an only child. Melinda graduated from Saint Scholastica High School in 1955 in Chicago, and attended Michigan State University from 1955-1957.
Melinda entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation September 2, 1957 at the Center, Maryknoll, NY. She professed First Vows June 24, 1960 at the Center and Final Vows June 24, 1966 in Merida, Mexico. Sister Melinda served in teaching roles with the Maryknoll Sisters, beginning with Sisters’ Novitiate at Topsfield, MA from 1960 – 1963. Her first assignment was Congregational Service in the kitchen at the St. Teresa Convent kitchen, Maryknoll, NY.
Sister Melinda’s first mission assignment was in 1963 to Mexico/Guatemala. She joined the Pastoral Center in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, where she was involved in catechetical work. She spent a year in Chiapas, Mexico, studying the dialect of the indigenous peoples.
In 1971, back in the US, Sister Melinda earned a Bachelor of Arts in theology from Loyola University, Chicago, IL.
Returning to Guatemala, she served as a staff member in the Centro Apostalico in Huehuetenago. After 14 years serving in Central America, Sister Melinda was elected President of the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation, an office she held from 1978 to 1984. During this time, Sister Melinda received various honorary degrees, including the Doctor of Humane Letters, from : Loyola University, Emmanuel College, Fordham University, Catholic University of America, Regis College, New School of Research, and Albertus Magnus College.
Sister Melinda was assigned to the Vicariate of Darien, Panama, in 1985. There, she was engaged with a team of Maryknoll Sisters who lived and worked with Indians, African Americans and Mestizo settlers. The Sisters traveled to 38 different communities instructing Delegates of the Word, catechists, teachers and young mothers. Their main objective was the formation of Ecclesial Basic Communities, small groups that prayed and worked for a more just and compassionate world.