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Daughter of Wisdom Sr. Joan Mary Rohan and Catherine Gilbride died in November

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Two former principals with connections to the Daughters of Wisdom have died.

Daughter of Wisdom Sister Joan Mary Rohan, former principal of Montfort Academy in Fredericksburg, died Nov. 20 at age 84. Catherine Mary Gilbride, former principal of St. Bernadette School in Springfield, died Nov. 23 at Ashby Ponds Retirement Community in Ashburn. She was 83.

“We thank God for Sister Joan who was principal of Montfort Academy,” said Father Thomas P. Ferguson, moderator of the Curia and pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria. “We also thank God for Catherine’s dedicated service as a collaborator with the Daughters of Wisdom at St. Bernadette School where she served with them as a teacher and then continued to hand on their spirituality and traditions as principal after the Daughters of Wisdom left the school.”

Sister Rohan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., as one of seven children to Robert Rohan and Helen McKenna. She entered the Daughters of Wisdom in Litchfield, Conn., following graduation from Our Lady of Wisdom Academy in Ozone Park, N.Y. She was one of the first five sisters to make their novitiate in the United States. She was a Daughter of Wisdom for 65 years.

She studied psychology at St. John’s University, taught at St. Mary Gate of Heaven Catholic Academy in Ozone Park, N.Y., and served as a teacher and school psychologist at Maryhaven Center of Hope in Port Jefferson, N.Y. She served as principal of Montfort Academy beginning in 1983 until the school closed in 1998, when the sisters sold the property to the National Park Service to meet financial needs.

Sister Rohan served as administrative assistant at the Provincial House in Islip, N.Y. where she mentored three provincial leaders and several staff members. She was a director of the order’s pre-novitiate. 

A funeral Mass was offered for Sister Rohan Nov. 26 at St. Mary Church in East Islip, N.Y.

Gilbride was born in Scranton, Pa., to Francis and Mary Haffron. She earned a bachelor's from Marywood University and a master's from the University of Scranton. She first taught high school in Pennsylvania for five years. She married Thomas Gilbride in 1959 and moved to Virginia, where she worked as a guidance counselor at Fairfax High School before taking time off to start a family.

In 1970, she taught at Holy Spirit School in Annandale before moving to teach sixth grade at St. Bernadette School, where she taught sixth grade for 14 years and eighth grade for 11 years. She became principal in 1995 and retired in 2003. Her four children attended St. Bernadette School.

She is survived by sons and daughters-in-law Thomas and Whitney, Timothy and Jan, Patrick and Susan; daughter Mary Kay and seven grandchildren; sisters and brothers-in-law Regina and Frank Balmer, Mary and Paul McAndrew, and Sheila and Vic Kochmer, and sister Ellen Franco. She was preceded in death by her husband Thomas Joseph Gilbride Sr.; parents Francis and Mary Heffron; brothers John, Francis and Patrick; and sisters Irene Murphy and Rosemary Zack.

A funeral Mass was scheduled for Dec. 1 at St. Bernadette Church. 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016