Proclaiming Jesus through education and Christian formation.

Sister in Ministry April 2012
Sister Melissa Tipmore gives the sisters wheels

Sister Melissa in her office, with one of her great loves, sunflowers.

Update: Sister Melissa Tipmore stepped down as transportation coordinator in 2016 after 18 years in the ministry. She continues to provide transportation for the sisters.

When Sister Melissa Tipmore was in her first mission at St. Francis of Assisi School in Loretto, Ky., only one of the sisters she lived with was allowed to drive.

Times have changed for the Ursuline Sisters. For the past 13 years, it has been Sister Melissa’s ministry to be director of transportation for the sisters, overseeing a fleet of 15 vehicles and making sure that the sisters at the remote location in Maple Mount get to their doctor appointments and occasional shopping trips in Owensboro.

“It’s a good second career for me, because it’s different from teaching,” Sister Melissa said, now in her 48th year as a sister. “I’m a very organized person and that quality is much needed in this position.”

She also runs errands for the business office into Owensboro each day, about 25 minutes away, takes care of licensing the community’s vehicles, takes deposits to the bank and sometimes drives a sister to an appointment that comes up at the last second. She takes care of buying over-the-counter medication for the sisters who live in Paul Volk Hall and St. Ursula Hall.

“I like running errands and getting things done, it suits me,” Sister Melissa said. “Even when I was teaching school, I liked making a list and marking it off.”

She schedules medical appointments for the sisters in those two residence halls, and assigns the five sisters who serve as drivers. “Having five sisters makes it nice, they are very dependable. We have to take sisters every day, we probably average three to four a day,” she said. There are about 40 sisters in the two residence halls that she serves.

Sister Marie Carol Cecil has been driving the sisters for 12 years, and thinks Sister Melissa does a fine job of running the office. “She’s very organized, and has her hands in quite a few things. She keeps us scheduled well.”

Sister Melissa in the garage under Paul Volk Hall, where some of the fleet of vehicles she oversees are parked.

Sister Mary Matthias Ward, director of local community life at the Motherhouse, also mentioned Sister Melissa’s organizational skills, and said her sense of humor serves her well in her ministry. “Sisters can be demanding and she usually takes it with a smile and a grain of salt and moves on to get the job done,” Sister Mary Matthias said. “She has organized a spring and a fall outing for the sisters. It gives them an opportunity to visit a park, walk around, eat a picnic lunch and come back home. These have been lovely outings for those who have taken the opportunity to attend,” she said. “I really think Melissa would try to do most things for any of us who need her help. She is a special lady with whom I enjoy working.”

For two former employees at the Mount, Sister Melissa’s greatest skill is her ability to listen.

Sarah Dant worked at the Mount for 33 years before retiring in 2009, and for many of those years, her office as director of housekeeping was two doors down from Sister Melissa.

“She’s a real kind, patient lady,” Dant said. “She would always listen to me if I needed to express myself. She’s got patience with the employees and the sisters. She’s just a lovable person.”

Patsy Love, who retired from the Mount in 2007, shares Sister Melissa’s love of books and movies, and the two became good friends when Sister Melissa came to the Mount in 1998. “She was someone I could confide in,” Love said. “She’s easy to talk to, it just comes naturally to her. She’s been a very good friend to me.”

Love and Dant still occasionally join Sister Melissa on trips to their favorite restaurant, Pizza Hut. “She’s always in my thoughts and prayers,” Dant said.

Taught by the Ursulines

Sister Melissa grew up in Owensboro, Ky., born Barbara Joan Tipmore, the youngest of seven children to J.W. and Georgia Tipmore, who everyone called “Shorty.” “Everyone in my family is short except me,” she said. She’s 5 feet 7.

She loved books and movies as a child, and they remain an important part of her life. She recalls weekends of going to see a movie or going skating for a quarter.

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