Rose Donahue
Rose Donahue

By EmmaLee Italia | Correspondent

On March 20, Rose Donahue turned 100 years old – but to this spry centenarian, age is only a number.

A parishioner of St. Catharine-St. Margaret Parish, Spring Lake, since the early 1960s, Donahue still lives in her home and can recall the name of every religious sister who taught her in school.

“We celebrated Rose’s 100th birthday at the 10:30 Mass on March 18,” said Father Harold Cullen, pastor of St. Catharine-St. Margaret Parish.

“Afterward, Father O’Reilly and I joined her at a gala luncheon at the Spring Lake Golf Club, attended by a large gathering of family and friends, including all three generations of the family,” he said.

“We just had a beautiful birthday party at the golf club – 72 people came!” Donahue said happily. “All the priests and nuns from my parish were invited … it was a wonderful celebration.”

Born and raised in Jersey City, Rose Tyrrell belonged to St. Michael Parish, attending both the parish’s elementary and high schools. She is the youngest of nine children, whose names she can still rattle off at a remarkable clip: Leo, Joe, James, Margaret, Marie, Anna, Lily and John.

“We were a very close-knit family,” Donahue recalled. “We treated each other like friends. My mother always said we had to treat each other with love and respect – that’s what brought us together.”

People will often ask Donahue how she remembers the names of her family and teachers so easily. Her answer? “They were all very dear to me.”

During high school, Donahue traveled to Boston College on several occasions to represent her school, staying weeks at a time, taking courses so that she could come back and teach fellow students. Both her grandchildren would go on to attend Boston College.

After marrying husband Daniel in St. Michael Church, Donahue did secretarial and bookkeeping work for the government, as well as for St. Francis Hospital, Jersey City – which has since closed.

The couple had two children, Donna (Schrader) and Danny, and eventually put down roots in Spring Lake. Donahue attended daily Mass until her daughter had children of her own.

In addition to watching her grandchildren, she looked after the neighborhood children, taking them to and from school each day.

Her son Danny, who passed away in 2014, attended Westpoint and had two Vietnam deployments, followed by a career in the CIA. Her parents and siblings have all passed, leaving daughter Donna and her children as the last of her family.

To keep busy, Donahue enjoys reading and writing letters, and keeping in touch with her friends – two of whom attended the same first grade class.

“Rose is a wonderful, vibrant and faith-filled member of St. Catharine-St. Margaret parish,” Father Cullen attested. “She is filled with a sense of optimism and gratitude to God for his many blessings to her and her wonderful family.”

When asked to what she attributes her longevity, Donahue said, “Just my faith – my faith, and my meditation.”