Father James J. Melle

Father James J. Melle, 74, a former teacher and parish priest, died Oct. 24.

Born in Norristown the son of the late Peter Melle and the late Carmella (Carfagno) Melle, he attended Holy Savior School and Bishop Kenrick High School, Villanova University and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

He was ordained May 20, 1972 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul by Cardinal John Krol, and his first assignment was as parochial vicar at St. James Parish, Elkins Park. He also served at Our Lady Help of Christians, Abington; Assumption B.V.M., Philadelphia; St. Madeline, Ridley Park; Assumption B.V.M., West Grove; St. Mary Magdalen, Media and St. Agnes, West Chester.

In education he taught at Archbishop Wood High School, Bishop McDevitt High School, Archbishop Prendergast High School  and Bishop Shanahan High School. He retired from active ministry in 2011 because of declining health.

“He loved teaching, he was very devoted to the Blessed Virgin and was a very social person,” said Bishop Herbert Bevard, the bishop of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and a seminary classmate of Father Melle. “We have been close friends ever since we met at the seminary in 1966. He was always well respected. He was very kind and always kept in touch with his friends.”


Msgr. Patrick Sweeney, who is another classmate from seminary days, said Father Melle “had to retire from ministry because he was sick. Recently he was using a walker but he had a little chapel set up in his room where he celebrated daily Mass. He was a good priest and a loyal friend.”

There will be a viewing for Father Melle at St. Helena Church, Blue Bell on Wednesday, Oct. 31 beginning at 9:30 a.m. followed by his funeral Mass with Bishop Edward Deliman as the principal celebrant.

Concelebrants will include Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky.; Msgr. Sweeney; Fathers Charles Noone and Joseph Brandt; Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan of St. Paul, Minn.; and Bishop Bevard, who will be the homilist.

Father Melle is survived by his brothers Anthony and Charles, and many nieces and nephews.