Ann Johnston, RSCJ

Ann Johnston, RSCJ

1932 - 2020

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Obituary of Ann Johnston, RSCJ

Albany - Religious of the Sacred Heart, Ann Johnston, RSCJ, died September 22, 2020, at Teresian House in Albany. She was eighty-eight years old--a religious of the Society of the Sacred Heart for sixty-six years. Ann was born on May 2, 1932, in Detroit, Michigan, to Joseph Andrew Johnston and Janice Alsup Johnston. Hers was “an active, loving family where we shared life and love, ideas, creations, divisions, ideals, to say nothing of fishing, camping, mountain climbing, carpentry, chemistry, cooking, studying, reading; all things were done together.” Ann entered the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1954 at Kenwood, in Albany, New York, and pronounced her First Vows there in 1957. She made her Final Profession in Rome in 1963. Sister Johnston graduated from Manhattanville College in 1954 with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology, followed by graduate degrees in history and interdisciplinary arts in 1964 and 1971, while she was on the college staff as academic advisor and residence counsellor. She went on to Saint Louis University where she earned a third graduate degree in interdisciplinary theology and psychology in 1975. Sister Johnston held faculty positions at Emmanuel College and Boston College in Massachusetts, where she was an adjunct professor and lecturer while pursuing the Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible, which she completed at Boston University in 1983. She was an assistant professor at the University of San Diego from 1984 to 1988. Beginning in 1988, Sister Johnston was a faculty member at Bangor Theological Seminary, where she was an associate professor of Hebrew Scripture and, in 1993, the George A. Gordon Professor of Old Testament Languages and Literature. During sabbaticals, she was visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York and Yarra Theological Union in Melbourne, Australia. Sister Johnston had a number of published works, and she was a member of several professional organizations and societies. In 2016, Sister Johnston retired to the Abba House community in Albany. Being a true scholar, it was her hope she would write her book on Isaiah there, and even just weeks before she died she was intent on finishing it. But she was also an energetic helper. She loved taking care of people and was thoughtful to a fault. Her caretaking extended as well to her surroundings. If something was in need of repair she would pull out her tool box and take care of it. As she needed more care, Sister Johnston moved to the Teresian House community in 2018 where she continued, as long as she was able, to go her determined, energetic, cheerful way, walking and exercising, taking care of the gathering room, interested in everything. Throughout her life Sister Johnston was known for her kindness. When a resident counselor at Manhattanville she was known for the lines of students waiting outside her door to talk with her, one a future RSCJ who said she owed her vocation to her. After she heard of Ann’s death, another RSCJ wrote about her own experience caring for a sister who was dying. “Ann came to see her, to sit with her, to pray with her, to raise up her gifts. She was so gentle and so insistent that she had to come . . . She would show up at just the right time, with such gentleness and kindness . . . “ Toward the end of July, Sister Johnston’s health deteriorated, and she died peacefully in her sleep on September 22, 2020. Of her devoted family she is survived by a sister, Jane Johnston (Pinkerton) and brothers Peter, Jerome (Jerry) and Joseph and many beloved nieces and nephews and their children. Her other sister, Francie Diebboll, died just a few months ago. A private burial took place at the Kenwood Cemetery in Albany on October 1, 2020. A memorial Mass will take place at a later time.
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