Sister Jean Clare was attracted to becoming a Sister early in her life. When she was a student at St. Joseph grade school, she was always impressed by how happy the Sisters who taught her seemed. She says she was a “simple farm girl” and the Sisters seemed to likewise enjoy the simple things in life.
She has been a professed Sister for 81 years now.
Sister says her greatest joy was teaching high school. She said she believed she was “where the Lord wanted her to be”; She loved the students and they loved her. The other Sisters would often tease Jean that she could “teach a stone biology,” but Sister often wonders if she did enough for her students. “Did they find the Lord in their study of biology?” she said. While she ponders these questions, though, she also trusts God’s love for each of them.
On Sister Jean’s 70 jubilee, a former student wrote: “Through the years, (she) has made such a tremendous and selfless gift to God by her many years of dedicated service to others. She has been and continues to be an inspiration to all who know her and we feel blessed by her friendship.”
Many of the students Sister taught, especially in her high school ministry, have stayed in touch with her. She also attracted many young women to become Sisters of St. Francis. Sister often recalls the times when students would struggle with the course material and how she would ask God’s help for them and then spend much extra time making sure they “got it.” The students who have stayed in touch with Sister Jean speak of learning much more than biology but how to work hard and not give up in difficult time because we can “trust” the Lord.
When asked about a word of advice or wisdom for others, Sister Jean replied by pointing to a butterfly in her room: “Look at the butterfly- that is like the beauty in my life. Just going where the Lord leads and trusting in his love for me and for those I served. Just being happy like the butterfly helps young people see Christ.”
A year ago when Sister celebrated her 100 birthday and her 80 jubilee as a Sister of St. Francis, she wrote a heartfelt reflection:
I was born in 1918 in the original Rohe Farmhouse where my father was born. My mother made all of our clothes and the kitchen was the center of our family…I went to school at St. Joseph Fullerton where I met the Sisters of St. Francis. In admiration of the Sisters, my cousins and I would dress up with pillow slips and play school. I think this was the beginning of realizing my call to join the sisters. At the end of my junior year in high school, I filled my desire and entered the community at Glen Riddle. As a postulant, I finished my education and was sent to teach first grade. After twenty happy years in grade school, I was sent to teach the sciences in high school. I was often teased that I could teach a stone biology! I have truly loved my time with the students and believed I saw God in them.
I am now living at the Assisi House, the Retirement Home for the Sisters of St. Francis. I enjoy every minute and offer gratitude to God and my community that I have been privileged to serve for 81 years.
The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia received a grant for lift chairs from SOAR!. A lift chair helps Sister Jean get up safely and gives her a greater sense of independence, so she can enjoy spending time with her community. She says “This chair enhances my personality, thank you! It is the first one that is comfortable!”