Fr. Christopher Johnson, O.P. (1932–2017)
June 26, 2017
Father Joseph Christopher Johnson, O.P., died peacefully in the morning of June 17, 2017, at Rosary Hill Home, Hawthorne, NY at the age of 84. For over fifty years Fr. Johnson served as teacher, academic administrator, pastor, campus minister, and prior. He is survived by nieces and nephews John J. Bartlett, Mark J. Bartlett, Lawrence J. Brennan, Judeth Brennan DeCristofaro, John R. Brennan, Christine Johnson, Terese Johnson, Peggy A. Johnson, Richard S. Johnson, Timothy M. Johnson, and Mary T. Johnson and sister-in-law Charlotte M. Johnson, as well as many grand nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Joseph B. and Mary Theresa Johnson, sisters Marion Bartlett, Sr. Marian Jude Johnson, O.P., Margaret Brennan, brother Richard S. Johnson, and nephew Christopher M. Bartlett.
Father Johnson was born on June 21, 1932, in Boston, MA, to Joseph Bertrand and Mary Theresa (née Driscoll) Johnson, and named Joseph Robert. After graduating from Matignon High School in Cambridge, MA, he attended Providence College from 1949 to 1953 earning an A.B. in Sociology.
He entered the Dominican Novitiate on August 5, 1953, at St. Stephen Priory in Dover, MA, and received the religious name Christopher. He made his first profession at St. Stephen Priory on August 16, 1954, and his solemn profession at Holy Cross Church in Sea Bright, NJ, on August 16, 1957. He studied philosophy at St. Rose Priory in Springfield, KY, and at St. Stephen Priory, before going on to the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception (PFIC) in Washington, DC, to study theology. On June 16, 1960 he was ordained a priest at St. Dominic’s Church in Washington, DC.
After completing an STL at the PFIC in 1961, he taught Philosophy and Theology at Salve Regina College in Newport, RI. In 1962 he moved to Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT, where he taught Theology. In 1963 he moved to Providence College in Providence, RI, where he taught Sociology and Theology for seven years. While teaching there, he served as an Assistant Chaplain for three years, served as Dean of Students for one year, and earned an MA in Sociology from Boston College. In 1970 he moved back to Salve Regina College where he was appointed Assistant Professor of Sociology and Chaplain.
On September 3, 1974 Fr. Johnson was assigned to St. Dominic Priory in Washington, DC and began teaching Sociology and serving as a campus minister at Georgetown University, eventually serving as Chair of the Department of Sociology. He joined the Province of St. Martin de Porres when it was formed in 1979, but continued to reside at St. Dominic Priory and teach at Georgetown. In 1981 he moved to the Jesuit Residence at Georgetown. In 1982 he transfiliated back to the Province of St. Joseph. In 1983 he was assigned to Fenwick House in Baltimore, MD, where he served as Director of the Newman Center at the University of Baltimore Professional Schools. On September 1, 1987 Fr. Johnson was assigned back to St. Dominic Priory and resumed teaching at Georgetown University. On May 19, 1990 Fr. Johnson accepted his election as prior of St. Dominic Priory in Washington, DC, where he served for two terms. While prior he helped establish the Center for Assisted Living at St. Dominic Priory.
On February 27, 1996 Fr. Johnson was elected Prior of St. Catherine of Siena Priory in New York City, and was appointed Pastor of the parish. He served two terms as prior. As pastor and prior, he also supervised the ministry of Dominican chaplains who served at four major New York hospitals. On January 1, 2002 he was assigned to St. Vincent Ferrer Priory and granted a sabbatical leave. On July 1, 2004 he began to reside at St. Joseph Rectory in Greenwich Village. He was assigned there when it became a religious house in 2006 and appointed campus minister at New York University. On October 10, 2008 he was once again elected prior of St. Catherine of Siena Priory and appointed pastor of the parish. At the conclusion of his term, he was assigned to St. Vincent Ferrer Priory on October 13, 2011. On June 13 Fr. Johnson moved to Rosary Hill Home to receive palliative care after struggling with cancer for several years.
Fr. Johnson’s body was received at St. Vincent Ferrer Church on June 20, 2017 at 6:45 pm. The Office of the Dead was celebrated that evening. Very Rev. Kenneth Letoile, O.P., Prior Provincial, was the principal celebrant at the Mass of Christian Burial celebrated at 10:00 am the next day at St. Vincent Ferrer Church. Very Rev. Walter Wagner, O.P., was the preacher. Interment followed at All Souls Cemetery, Pleasantville, NY.