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RIP – Mary Johnson TSSF

Mary Johnson TSSF
1918 – 2010

Mary McCulloch was born shortly after the death of her father in France, in the closing months of the war.  She and her elder brother Ian were lovingly cared for by her mother and her grandfather.  They both found their way to Oxford, where Mary shone both at work (she read English) and play (she took six Cambridge wickets in the Ladies’ Varsity Match).  Her work as a teacher took her from England to Nyasaland (now Malawi) as a UMCA missionary – and an MBE.

In 1943 she had become a first generation member of the Third Order SSF; she was professed in 1945.  In 1959 she returned to England, and to marriage with her beloved George Johnson, a parish priest at Hyde, near Manchester, whom she had met while on furlough from Africa.  They later moved to a fenland parish near Cambridge – but in 1974 George died and left Mary to experience a profound bereavement which later she wrote about in an anonymous leaflet which has been of help to many.  For fifteen years her energies had been absorbed in the life of a vicar’s wife – now they were to find a wider field in the Third Order.  She was successively Senior Novice Mistress for Women, General Secretary and (from 1979 – 1985) Provincial Guardian.  She fearlessly exercised her headmistressly skills and her powerful pastoral sensitivity, with the leavening of an unfailing sense of fun which had been such a feature of her marriage.

Later years were spent in Suffolk, then at South Petherton in walking distance of Compton Durville and the CSF sisters.  Her growing incapacity led to a last move – to St John’s Home in Oxford which she had visited as a student, and where her closing six years  were experienced as a great blessing and where she continued to make friends and jokes and to live with gratitude to the loving God who had so richly blessed her and everyone she met.

Her marriage was childless, but she was a greatly valued aunt as was apparent at the funeral in the chapel of the All Saints’ Sister of the Poor.  Present were her family, her friends at St John’s, tertiaries from Oxford and one brown habit from the First Order.  f