ASTON, Pa. — St. Patrick’s Day was a special one for a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia and one of their members. Sister Jean Clare Rohe, celebrated her 104th birthday, making her the oldest member of her congregation.
A resident of Assisi House, the Franciscans’ retirement community, Sister Jean was born in Baltimore County, Md., the oldest of nine children of Joseph and Genevieve Rohe. She entered the congregation when she was 17 along with her cousin, Sister Alice Catherine, who is now deceased. She has been a sister for 84 years.
Sister Jean Clare ministered for many years in education. In the Diocese of Wilmington, she taught at St. Paul and St. John the Beloved schools and at Padua Academy. She also spent 48 years in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. After she retired, she worked in a rectory at a parish in the archdiocese.
Her first assignment in the Wilmington diocese began in 1938, and the final one concluded in 2004. After leaving St. Paul School in 1941, she would not return to the diocese for more than 30 years, until 1974, when she began a nine-year ministry as a science teacher at Padua. She was at St. John the Beloved from 1989-2004. She was a science teacher and insisted that everyone learn about biology.
“My niece said to me one time, ‘Aunt Jean, you think everyone has to learn biology.’ And I said, ‘Cassie, if I teach it, they have to learn it.’ And they did,” she told The Dialog in 2018 upon the occasion of her 100th birthday.
Since 2014, she has lived at Assisi House, where she has served in prayer and hospitality ministry. She also enjoys playing cards and doing puzzles.
“I have had an interesting and enjoyable life as a Franciscan,” she said recently. “I’ve had a long life and have loved every minute of it.”