Ghost torments teachers in St Rita’s?

Mrs. Jessica Kenworthey has had quite the life as an ex-nun, Harvard graduate, religion teacher, and exorcist translator, but now she, along with a few others, explain the story behind a supposed ghost in St. Rita’s.

Ben Franzone, Friar Life Editor

Is there really a ghost in St Rita’s or is it all just make believe? Kenworthey has been at Malvern for about two decades, but can this sis solve the shadowy mystery?

“When I was first hired here in 2001, [which was] Mr. [Jeff] Carroll and Mr. [Andrew] DiDomenico’s senior year, there were a few teachers on the faculty at that point in time, who told me there was a ghost in St. Rita’s, but I never believed it or saw any evidence personally,” Kenworthey said. 

Tucked between Carney Hall and the O’Neill Center, St. Rita’s has served many purposes over its illustrious career. Mr. Tom McGuire ‘75 knows just about everything there is to know about the history of Malvern Prep; he even has a collection of old Malvern documents packed up in his classroom. 

Through its time on Malvern’s campus, the building served as a convent and now as the nurses office, but most significantly, it served as office space for teachers up until the start of this school year.

“The building was put up around 1960. In those days, Malvern still had boarding students and the school evidently hired some Mexican nuns who would come in and cook,” McGuire said. “So the breeze, they did a little fundraiser and they built that for about maybe five or six nuns.”

Before Kenworthey graced Malvern Prep, she lived in France where she devoted her life to her faith as a Catholic nun for over a decade. She was able to use her experience as a nun to pick up a few things that she noticed in St. Ritas.

“If you go into St. Ritas, you can definitely tell when you’re walking around that it used to be a convent. The one big room that is now where Mrs. [Liz] Malone [Malvern’s school nurse] has her whole setup, that was a chapel room, obviously there’s a kitchen. The front room that used to be the mail room was probably the dining room, and you can tell how upstairs there would have been bedrooms up there,” Kenworthey said.

The former English teacher who told Kenworthey about the ghost, no longer works at Malvern and may not be the most reliable source of information. He actually took it a step further, and made the story even a little more crazy

Kenworthey said, “I was told my first year here that one of those nuns passed away in her bed in the convent.”

“I found out much later that this [English] teacher who’s no longer here would often joke around and goof off to pull people’s legs, but I didn’t know that when he told me, I was just kind of like oh okay, whatever,” she said.

As Kenworthey began to talk about it out loud, she took a slight pause and started to think a bit more about when she was told there was a ghost in St. Rita’s.

“Well… now that I think about it, he may have told me that in the context of when I told him that I used to work for an exorcist,” Kenworthey said. 

Yes, Kenworthey worked for an exorcist. Being that she lived in France and was a sister, she was and still is fluent in French. She served the exorcist for six months as a translator, while at a convention in Italy. 

In case you were wondering, no, she unfortunately does not stay in contact with the exorcist, and said it was only a one time thing.  

Another story that Kenworthey knows about a ghost in St Rita’s really hits home for her and has a truly heartfelt connection, particularly to her two children . 

“There used to be this Christian service opportunity at Malvern called midnight run,” Kenworthey said. And what it was, it would be right before spring break or winter or thanksgiving break and a group of seniors would come in and prepare food care packages, like sandwiches, fruit, that kind of thing. Then they would get in a van with all this food and other types of food donations and they would drive into either New York or Philadelphia depending and they would go to certain locations where there were homeless shelters. They would literally get there at midnight,” she said. “And they would talk and interact with the homeless and so forth, but they would come back [to campus] and it’d be like four or five in the morning.”

“There’d always be a couple of faculty members who go with them, one time there was a faculty member here, Miss Plows, that went with the group,” Kenworthey said.

Plows used to teach ceramics at Malvern for a number of years and was also the previous advisor for the Friar’s Lantern. 

“The one time she accompanied midnight run and she got back to campus really late, she was very tired and she just was like, you know what? I’m too tired to drive home, I’m just gonna snooze out here on the couch in St. Ritas,” Kenworthey said. “Now again, I wasn’t there, this is what she told me. And she [Plows] was telling people she heard these voices, I was so freaked out I heard these voices. I thought it was the ghost of St. Rita’s,” she continued. 

Could these voices have actually been those of St. Rita’s, possibly. Maybe, there really is a ghost in the building, or maybe it was two meddling kids.

“Unbeknownst to her, that was my fault,” Kenworthey said. “Because back in the day, I had this little picture frame with a picture of my children when they were little and my husband had got it for me and there was a memory chip like a computer chip in the frame that you could record something,” she said. “So he had my children record we love you mommy … so every hour on the hour, that little recording of my children going, we love you mommy would go off.”

“She (Plows) heard this, but she couldn’t figure out what it was because my office was upstairs and she was so freaked out that she heard these children’s voices,” Kenworthey said. 

The question still looms, is there actually a ghost in St. Rita’s? Is it all just a joke or could it maybe be Kenworthey’s children playing mind games on Malvern Prep faculty members? The world may never know.