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Ursuline Mourns the Loss of Sr. Rose Angela

June 20, 2016

Please join the Ursuline College community in praying for the repose of the soul of Sister Rose Angela, OSU, who served as our president 1966-69. We join the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland in celebrating her life and leadership. You will find a short biography commemorating her work at the College below:

Patricia Jean Johnson was born in Goshen, Indiana, on September 5, 1924.  While she was in high school, the Johnson family moved to Cleveland, and in 1942 she entered Ursuline College majoring in biology. She graduated in 1946, and the following September she entered the Ursuline Sisters and received the name Sr. Rose Angela.

While a novice, she taught science at Villa Angela Academy, and, having made her first religious profession in 1949, she was assigned to Ursuline College to teach biology. She was also sent to the Cleveland Institute of Music and was then assigned to teach music at Ursuline.

In 1957 she was sent to the University of Notre Dame for a master’s degree in education in preparation for succeeding Sister Gonzaga as academic dean. Upon completion of her degree, she was named to the deanship, a role she served with distinction for nine years until in 1966 she was named the 13th president of Ursuline College. She was the first to serve as college president without simultaneously serving as the General Superior of the Ursuline Sisters.

Her first major task was to move the College from Cedar Hill to the new Pepper Pike Campus, where classes began in the fall of 1966. It was during her term of office, in 1969, that Ursuline College became a separate corporation and for the first time had its own Board of Trustees.  Making an Ursuline education available more broadly, she also removed the designation “for Women” in Ursuline’s official title. When she inaugurated capsule courses for adults in 1967, almost 300 adults signed up for these evening courses.

During the summer of 1969, she fell ill and difficulties with her health forced her to resign as president.

In the fall of 1970 Sister Rose Angela returned to the College as the Dean of Continuing Education.  Adult women who had never attended college or whose life situations caused them years ago to interrupt their studies were gracefully received by Sister who assured them that they could succeed. Hundreds of these women earned their degrees from Ursuline because of her encouragement and support. 


From 1976 to 1980 she took on the additional charge of serving as the President of the Saint John College Corporation until Ursuline College received approval to offer the nursing degree.

In 1984 Sister Rose Angela was elected superior of the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland. Throughout her term of office and for the rest of her life she remained supportive of Ursuline College, where she frequently attended alumnae events. 

The College, in turn, has been ever grateful for Sister Rose Angela’s faithful service. While she disliked being the center of attention, the College honored her with Amadeus Rappe Award in 1979 and with the Ursula Laurus Award and a doctorate in humane letters in 1985.  

If you would like to make a donation to the College in honor of Sister Rose Angela, under the newly established Ursuline Sisters Memorial Scholarship fund, click here.

Below are comments from generous donors to the fund: 

As one of the returning students after an interruption of 20 years, Sr. Rose Angela guided me through my academic program with exceptional personal concern. She counseled me through a program which gave me a solid basis for further study and a satisfying career in Soviet and Eastern European studies. I owe a great depth of gratitude to her.

I never would have become a high school English teacher without the kindness and understanding of Sr. Rose Angela. She interviewed me for admission and a scholarship to Ursuline College. I am forever grateful. God bless you, Sister, and may you rest in peace.

Because of Sister Rose Angela's encouragement years ago, I became a college graduate! To be an Ursuline College graduate was a dream come true! Thank you, Sister Rose Angela.

My memories of my college years at Ursuline with the nuns, faculty, and fellow students are so precious to me. God Bless.

Sr. Rose Angela was dean for the three years I attended Ursuline. At that time, the dean advised all students (incredible to think of now). I remember my first meeting with Sister, who was smiling and approachable and supportive. I was a sophomore transfer student from St. John's and each semester she helped me stay on track to graduate on time, even though my elementary education credits didn't transfer to my Ursuline major. Thinking of Sr. Rose Angela makes me smile even now, more than fifty years later.

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