Birth: December 3, 1917
Profession: February 10, 1954
Death: August 2, 2014
Religious of the Sacred Heart Jen-ching (Rosalie) Chen died Saturday, August 2, at Oakwood, the Society of the Sacred Heart’s elder care center in Atherton, California. Born in China, she bore witness to the turbulent transitions in that country, coming through with a commitment to equality and harmony that shaped her service. Her remarkable life will be celebrated in a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, August 16 at 10:00 a.m. at Oakwood, 140 Valparaiso Avenue, Atherton. Burial will follow in the Sacred Heart cemetery at Oakwood.
Born December 3, 1917 in HanYoung Hupei, China, Jen-Ching was the daughter of Ci-Quing and Shi-Jia Yu Chen. She was the middle child between two brothers. Her parents and brothers preceded her in death. She is survived by two nieces and more than 2,000 Religious of the Sacred Heart around the world.
Rosalie and her two brothers grew up in a China that was undergoing rapid and sometimes violent change from ancient Chinese traditions to a new, Western culture. The desire to serve the oppressed took root in young Rosalie’s heart as she witnessed the disparities in economic and educational opportunities in her society.
Because of China’s war against Japan, Rosalie and her brothers were sent to boarding schools in Shanghai. She went to the Aurora College for Women, operated by the Society of the Sacred Heart, where she became a Catholic. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John’s University of Shanghai in 1941. Due to the turmoil of war and fall of the government, her documents were lost, requiring her to re-establish her credentials with further studies later in life.
Sister Chen later wrote of the chaos of the 1940s “It was at this period that I turned constantly to God in prayer that He might save humanity from self-destruction. My desire to conquer hatred with love increased. I knew that I, by myself alone, would not be able to accomplish much in helping the needy. This discovery (drew) me to join the Society of the Sacred Heart two years after my graduation so that I might instill the love of Christ in the minds and hearts of the children.” She entered the Society in Shanghai in 1943. She made first vows in 1947 and final vows in 1954.
Sister Chen’s first ministry was teaching seventh graders at the Aurora Middle School in Shanghai, 1947-49. She spent three years in the United States obtaining a Master’s Degree in History and English at Manhattanville College, a school operated by the Society. She completed that degree in 1952. After six months at the Society’s motherhouse in Rome, where she made her final profession, she returned to the classroom. Over the next thirty-four years, she served at the Obayashi Finishing School, Obayashi, Japan; the International School, Tokyo; the Seoul International School, Seoul, Korea; Chun Chon College, Chun Chon, South Korea; Taiwan Sacred Heart College, Taiwan; Technical School, Taipei; and Taiwan University in Taipei City.
In July, 1978, Sister Chen moved to the United States for a year-long renewal program in the Society’s community in Menlo Park, California. During that year, she became even more committed to building a better world of justice, peace, harmony and equality, a world where unjust social, economic and political systems might be wiped out. She became determined to work with an institution whose sole aim was to spread the Good News to the poor. She went to work for the United Farm Workers in Keene, California as a medical insurance claims processor for the farm workers.
She returned to school, at the University of San Francisco, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at the age of 69. Her art became an important part of her life and her prayer.
Sister Chen entered prayer ministry at Oakwood in 2004.