Sr. Mary Laura (AKA Mary Ann) Melancon, MSC was born December 7, 1934 on the West Bank of New Orleans in Algiers, LA. She died peacefully at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home at 1:47 AM on April 26, 2022.
Sr. Laura was preceded in death by her father, Joseph Melancon, and her mother, Blanche Hebert Melancon and by her sisters: Norma Melancon, Eula Mae Melancon, Una Martinez, and Euline Lacour. She is survived by her niece, Norma Ledet, grandnieces, Rochelle Schneider and Denise Ledet and their children.
Sr. Laura entered the Congregation of the Marianites of Holy Cross in 1952 and pronounced her perpetual vows on August 13, 1957. She received her college education at Holy Angels Academy in New Orleans and a Master of Arts in French from the University of Southwestern Louisiana. She did additional studies in French at the Université de Clermont Ferrand in France in 1967 and the Université Catholique de l’Quest in France in 1972.
From 1954 to 1960, she was involved in elementary education in the Archdiocese of New Orleans and in the Diocese of Lake Charles. From 1961 - 1972, she taught French in parochial schools in those same dioceses. From 1972 - 1981, she served in the Academic Dean of Our Lady of Holy Cross College (now University of Holy Cross). She then was elected to general administration for the Marianites and served the Congregation as First Assistant from 1981-1985. From 1985-2009, she ministered in several roles at Our Lady of Holy Cross College (now University of Holy Cross) including Director of Planning, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Executive Assistant to the President, and as Vice President for Mission and Planning. During these years, she was active on the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, the American Association of University Women, and the French/American Chamber of Commerce. Some of her many honors included: Outstanding Alumna of the Year (University of Holy Cross), Founder Award from the House of Ruth (an agency to assist homeless families on the West Bank of New Orleans with permanent housing), Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Holy Cross. Due to declining health, Sister Laura was admitted to Our Lady of Wisdom Health Care Center in 2009 and then transferred to Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home on April 8, 2021.
A woman of beatitude, Sr. Laura was blessed with a multitude of gifts. She was extremely intelligent, bi-lingual in English and French, proficient in strategic planning, easy and fun to be around, honest and straight forward, and generous and kind in serving others. She loved to learn and was an avid reader being engrossed in many books at the same time. She also loved to teach. If you asked her a question, be prepared to have a class on the subject! She knew the importance of not only learning a language and culture but, more importantly, of immersing oneself in the culture. When elected to congregational leadership, she often explained to the Sisters in France that she was primarily there as a Sister. She was part of the leadership team when functioning in that role but other times she desired to live as one among them.
While serving in Marianite First Congregational Assistant, she joined with Sr. Raymonde Marsollier, Congregational Leader, and Sr. Joyce Hanks, Congregational Assistant, in 1982 in beginning the International Sessions in Holy Cross Spirituality. These summer sessions were offered in Le Mans, France to the members and associates of the Sisters, Brothers, and Priests of Holy Cross to deepen the appreciation of the history and charism of Holy Cross. The sessions continued until 2019 when the pandemic due to Covid-19 caused their interruption.
A challenge for Sister Laura was her lack of spatial directions. Sister would sometimes find herself lost in her own space – be that a classroom, a house, a church, a store, an institution. She never went anywhere alone because of her fear of getting lost. So many funny stories are told about the adventures of Laura: teaching in the wrong classroom, being locked in a bathroom, getting into the wrong car, being lost in a store. Always of good humor, she would join in the fun, add to the story, and laugh about her experiences along with the group.
Sr. Laura need no longer fear getting lost. Her mortal space has now become eternal space as the Lord leads her into everlasting life. One word that is the same in both English and French is Alleluia. We will gather to remember Sr. Laura and to celebrate her bi-lingual, multi-cultural life with a wake service on Friday, April 29, 2022 from 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM in the chapel at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home. Mass of the Resurrection with Easter Alleluias will be celebrated at 10:00 AM in the same chapel followed by burial in St. Landry Cemetery in Opelousas, Louisiana.
In lieu of flowers, the Marianites of Holy Cross request that memorial donations be made to the Marianites of Holy Cross Congregational Center at 21388 Smith Road, Covington, Louisiana, 70435.
Words of Comfort for the family may be expressed at www.sibillefuneralhomes.com. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Sibille Funeral Home of Opelousas.