Sister Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC, who was still serving her beloved Newman University after 42 years there, died Sunday, March 21, after a brief illness. She was 80 years old and had been a professed member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ for 59 years.
Born in 1940, she grew up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and attended its Catholic schools where she first encountered the Adorers. She earned a scholarship to the congregation’s Sacred Heart College (now Newman University), starting what would become a long affiliation with the institution.
She joined the Adorers community on September 6, 1959, and professed first vows on July 1, 1961, and perpetual vows on July 1, 1966. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Newman in May 1962 with dreams of becoming a master teacher. She later earned a master’s degree in history at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and a Ph.D. in American Studies at Saint Louis University.
Sister Charlotte started her teaching career at St. Joseph School in Elk City, Oklahoma, and later taught at St. Ann School in Olmitz, Kansas and All Saints School in Wichita. She then taught social studies at her former high school. In 1974, she began her teaching ministry in history at then Kansas Newman College that continued through 2006 when she was honored as Professor Emerita in History. She loved teaching and inspiring her students to deepen their appreciation for history.
At the time of her death, Sister Charlotte was working part-time as Newman’s director of mission effectiveness. During the course of her 42 years at Newman, she also served as academic dean, alumni director, director of service learning and the semester abroad program, director of archives and interim president. She helped organize university trips for the beatification and canonization of St. John Henry Newman and the canonization of St. Maria De Mattias, the Adorers’ foundress.
She enjoyed researching and writing about the Adorers’ history and sharing her knowledge and passion with others. She learned even more Adorer history during a one-year sabbatical in Rome in 2000-2001, participated in congregational governing and made life-long friends with Adorers from throughout the world.
She led the former Wichita Province from 1996 to 2000, and helped facilitate the Adorers’ transition from individual provinces to one U.S. region in 2000. She also served on numerous boards and committees of the congregation, its sponsored ministries and the broader church and society.
S. Charlotte continued to give even in death by donating the corneas of her eyes to The Kansas Eye Bank and Cornea Research Center.
The body of Sister Charlotte will be returned to the Wichita Center on Thursday, March 25, when a wake service will be held at 7 p.m. in the Woman of the New Covenant Chapel. The funeral liturgy will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, March 26, with Tom Welk, CPPS, as presider and homilist. Both the wake and funeral will be livestreamed.
A celebration of Sister Charlotte’s life for the Newman community and alumni and other friends will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 18, on the Newman campus.
Sister Charlotte is survived by her Sister Adorers of the Blood of Christ; her brother, Charles; her sister-in-law, Fran; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Adeline Hula and Charles J. Rohrbach; brothers Richard and Eugene; and sister Rosemary Ritzinger.