Melody Layton McMahon Announces Retirement from Catholic Theological Union

Submitted by Melody Layton McMahon, Director of the Paul Bechtold Library, Catholic Theological Union

Most of you know that I have been so blessed to not just have a career, but a vocation, a calling from God to do the work that I have done now for many years (as I say this constantly and wrote about in my article in Theological Librarianship, “An Unapologetic Apology”). And for most of this vocational life, I have been so blessed to be among you, my ATLA colleagues, though for quite a few years the demands of young children kept me from attending conferences. But once I attended a conference, I knew I had found my spiritual home. So it is with much sadness, that I must report that I am going on medical leave and will not be returning to my position at Catholic Theological Union as Library Director.

For those who do not know, I have had a rare chronic blood cancer for over 35 years, (for those who want to know, post-polycythemia myelofibrosis is my current diagnosis) almost my entire vocational life. Though my health was not an issue for many of those years, in the past several years I have had an increase in symptom burden and the fatigue and cognitive dysfunction are the main culprits leading to my decision. I have rarely been in the office for the past year and that is no way to run a library. I have exhausted the current clinical trials and when I was “kicked out” of the last one in January, that was the final straw. (My body just didn’t react to the drug properly; I didn’t misbehave!) I will be going on long-term disability and hope that more clinical trials become available in the future.

I am planning on staying involved with volunteer activities in the “library as publisher movement” to the extent that I can. I have recently been named to the ATLA Press Coordinating Council as an ad hoc member. Also, I will remain on New Theology Review (the CTU faculty journal which I have been on the editorial board for six years now) as the Managing Editor. In addition, I hope to work on several monograph publications that are in the works at the Paul Bechtold Library Publications.

You individually, and as the organization ATLA, have given me so many opportunities: the book co-edited with David Stewart (A Broadening Conversation: Readings in Theological Librarianship); the book I edited for Seth Kasten’s retirement (Never Enough Singing) — what fun to get together the choir members to write about their favorite hymns; and more recently, ATLA has published my book on Fr. Simeon Daly (An Enthusiasm for the Word: The Life and Writings of Fr. Simeon Daly). Fr. Simeon is an example par excellence of the giants whose shoulders I have stood on. Carisse Berryhill has asked me most years to speak with her LEEP course in Theological Librarianship. Little did I know when I approached her shyly at my first conference (simply because I had grown up in a tiny little community named Berryhill) that someday I’d have these opportunities. David Stewart invited me to write for the issue of Theological Education which he guest edited. The entire Roman Catholic Denominational Group has been provided a source of friendship and encouragement like no other. So please accept my thanks for so many years of collegiality, friendship, support, and so many good things!

The Catholic Theological Union has posted a listing for the Director of Paul Bechtold Library on the ATLA Job Board. Apply today.

Please join us in thanking Melody for all of her years of service to the ATLA Community. We look forward to her continued work and support during her retirement.

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