Melinda Stricklen retires after 42 years

“I came to the wrong party. I didn’t know this was going to be a love-fest for Melinda,” said Melinda Stricklen’s brother Martin when he got up to speak about his sister at her retirement party at Maryhurst last month. 

It just goes to show how much little brothers know about their big sisters. To everyone else packed in the room at Maryhurst, it was no surprise that love and hugs were going to be the order of the day. 

Guests who attended Melinda’s retirement party on October 30, 2018 showed their deep appreciation for Melinda and awe of her dedication to Good Shepherd. Melinda started with Good Shepherd as a youth counselor in the substance abuse dorm at Maryhurst in 1976. She became the first lay staff hired to work as a youth counselor. 

Melinda Stricklen and Mission Effectiveness

In June 1988 Melinda started the Mission Effectiveness training program. Sr. Barbara Beasley joined her in 2008, after her term as provincial. Lizzie Cody joined the Mission Effectiveness team in 2009.

Lizzie welcomed guests and kicked off Melinda’s retirement celebration. She began by saying, “We are here to honor and celebrate Melinda for her 42 years of faithful and dedicated service to Maryhurst and Good Shepherd. She is a forerunner to why we are all here today. Melinda has made friends and relationships across the globe and is known and loved on every continent.”

Judy Lambeth, Executive Director of Maryhurst, followed Lizzie and said, “I met Melinda in 1975. There are no words to explain her humor and what she does for us. She is an encourager and a dear friend.”

Sr. Barbara Beasley spoke next and said, “Melinda team builds intentionally all of the time. We know that all of her encouragement, humor, affirmations, giving people room to be all they can be is what she does and thinks. And she does it exquisitely.” 

Representation of Christ’s love

Melinda’s niece Jennifer said, “My aunt reminds people to see the sky and not the clouds.”

Melinda’s brother Martin and his wife Betty and their children Jennifer and Chris drove to Louisville from Atlanta to surprise Melinda at the retirement party. Melinda’s Sunday School class also surprised her by attending the retirement party.

“I see a lifelong learner in my aunt,” said Melinda’s nephew Chris. “She likes learning new thoughts and stretching to new heights. Resources pour into Melinda and flow out to others through her. She is a representation of Christ’s love.”

And so it went at Melinda’s retirement party. Comments flowed. For example:

“We couldn’t always understand your Alabama accent, but we could always understand your language of love.”

“You reach out to young people and staff and everyone you meet. You’re significant here at Maryhurst.”

“We know we have been loved by Melinda. She has been our anchor.”

“I want to thank you, Melinda, for being someone who inspires me to be the best version of myself that I can be.”

“Melinda, I love you and respect you and will never forget what you have done for me.”

“Our mission is safe because you helped us grow in this holy mission. I will be careful and intentional to be ever so careful with the mission so that I can stay true to you and your teachings about love.”

Above all, Melinda epitomizes Saint Mary Euphrasia’s quotes about love. While she may be retiring, it is evident that nobody is letting her out of their hearts, memories and lives anytime soon. 

Daughter of Saint Mary Euphrasia

Melinda wrapped up her retirement party by telling her guests, “I am a daughter of Saint Mary Euphrasia and so grateful to be one. Mary Euphrasia wants us all to be encouraging and inspiring. Hearing your memories and these words humbles me and reminds me that we have to work wholeheartedly to help each other. It’s up to all of us to continue to bring our young people along as we bring ourselves along.”

December 30, 2018, is Melinda’s actual retirement date. Sr. Barbara will continue in her role with the Office of Mission Effectiveness. The team is expanding in 2019  to include two Good Shepherd Mission Partners: Fran Eskin-Royer, with National Advocacy Center for Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and David Short, with Maryhurst. Lizzie will become the new Director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness on January 1, 2019. 

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette is the Communications Coordinator for Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America. She is a career photojournalist who has served in various capacities of print, broadcast, and corporate communications. Jeanette is devoted to creation and is particularly focused on saving pollinators and other wildlife species and their habitat. She is an ethical vegan and created the website veganstoryteller.com