ASTON, PA. — Sister Jean Clare Rohe, at 104 the oldest member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, died in Assisi House on May 16. She had been a professed member of the congregation for 84 years.
Sister Jean was born in Baltimore, graduating from the Catholic High School of Baltimore. She ministered primarily in education, including 48 years in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. In 27 years in the Diocese of Wilmington, she taught at St. Paul, and St. John the Beloved schools and at Padua Academy.
Her stints in the Diocese of Wilmington spanned decades. She first came to the diocese from 1938-41, teaching at St. Paul’s, and it would be more than 30 years before she returned in 1974, spending nine years at Padua. Finally, she worked at St. John the Beloved from 1989-2004. She was a science teacher.
In a 2018 interview with The Dialog upon the occasion of her 100th birthday, she said she insisted that everyone learn science.
“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.”
One of her students in Baltimore at Mount Carmel High School was Mitchell Rozanski, who became an auxiliary bishop of Baltimore and is now the bishop of Springfield, Mass.
She described herself as “a simple farm girl that made good.” She was the oldest of nine siblings, six of whom survive her. One sister, Eleanor, also became a Franciscan, working at St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington before contracting a disease while on a trip to Europe that claimed her life several years ago.
Sister Jean moved to Assisi House in 2014 was active in many activities there. She joked that she was “a liability” to the staff, but Sister Peggy Egan, the administrator, quickly rebutted her.
“How could you ever be a liability? She’s the sweetest, most even-dispositioned person you ever want to see,” Sister Peggy said.
Sister Jean said her secret to reaching 100 was fairly simple. “Just take each day as it comes.”
All services will be May 23 at Assisi House, 600 Red Hill Road, Aston, and will be livestreamed. A Christian wake service begins at 9:30 a.m., followed by a viewing. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m., with burial to follow in Our Lady of Angels Cemetery. Donations in Sister Jean’s name can be made to the Sisters of St. Francis Foundation, 609 S. Convent Road, Aston, PA 19014.