In 2018, the year of their 70th anniversary, the Sisters of St. Benedict of St. Paul’s Monastery established the St. Scholastic Honor. The honor celebrates the virtues of St. Scholastica (Community, Hospitality, Listening, Dignity of Work, Respect for Persons, Stability, Justice, Awareness of God, Stewardship, and Moderation), and this honor is presented to someone exhibiting the qualities and dedication to the Benedictine way of life in support of St. Paul’s Monastery.
We are honored to announce that this year’s St. Scholastica Honoree is Terry Johnson. Terry has volunteered her time and talents at St. Paul’s Monastery for 15 years! Terry began regularly going to the Health Care Center to work with the Sisters living there in 2007. She shared that she was at an activity at the monastery one evening when Sister Carol was the Prioress. The activity she was attending was a practice to help the Sisters get more exercise. She found herself offering to help with this activity in the future. Sister Carol introduced Terry to Monica, a fellow oblate who was in charge of the activities for the Sisters. According to Terry, she and Monica, “teamed up and had a great time!” Eventually Monica became Terry’s sponsor when Terry became an oblate. In time, Monica left this work at the Monastery, but Terry was invited to stay and keep working with the Sisters. She came to the Monastery twice a month and created her own way of doing exercises with the Sisters. She would bring to the Sisters whatever was inspiring her on that given day. She shares that she listened to the Sisters all the time and the Sisters were her teachers.
Terry was 67 years old when she first came to the Monastery in 2006. Showing up at the Monastery was a surprise even to her. Terry was struggling with an inner turmoil and was looking for a retreat and to find someone to talk to. She looked on the internet to see if she could find a retreat. She found the resume of one of the Sisters at St. Paul’s Monastery. She studied her credentials and thought that perhaps this Sister could really help her. She called the Sister and made an appointment to see her. Terry told her she thought she was going crazy and was reading five books at a time to try to understand what was going on with her. So, they scheduled a meeting and planned to go forward from there. This was her first acquaintance with Sisters. This Sister taught her how to breathe to relieve her anxiety. She introduced Terry to Centering Prayer, something she didn’t even know she was looking for.
Eventually, she was invited to meet the Sisters’ community. She walked in the doors of the old Monastery building, looked around and said, “I am home.” She began to go to the Monastery frequently, got acquainted with the Sisters’ prayer life and other spiritual activities. She was thirsty spiritually and she, “wanted to learn everything she could learn about the Sisters and the monastic life they live.” Terry fell in love with spiritual direction, and this is what eventually brought her to formulation as an oblate. She wanted to be part of the community and the service to God and God’s people. She did her final oblation in 2008.
Terry graduated from Mound High School in 1957. She had come to Mound in the sixth grade (age 11) from North Dakota. She lived on an island in Lake Minnetonka that was three miles from the school. In high school, Terry took all the classes to train her to work as a secretary. Upon graduation, she was offered a secretarial position at General Mills. Shortly after that, she got a letter from her dad’s sister. They offered her to come and live with them, and she could go to college at Willamette University. Her dream since she was 12 years old was to learn how to speak French and go to France. She accepted her aunt and uncle’s offer. She lived in their house and bonded with her aunt and uncle and their friends. She had an extraordinary French professor. She graduated with a B.A. in French, and because of her professor’s connection with the French government, she got to be a teaching assistant and live in a boarding school for one year. She taught American culture and language and helped others to learn their French. In the summers during college, she would go to General Mills and fill in for the other secretaries when they went on their vacations.
Terry says that “Betty Crocker was kind of a matchmaker.” She was the one who helped women who were housewives who did cooking and taking care of their families. That spirit was part of the General Mills scene. Terry had finished three years of college, and in the summer between junior and senior years when she was working at General Mills, there was a young man who was asking people about her. So, she started asking about him. He ended up being her husband. They went to the State Fair, and they hit it off. They wrote letters during the fall of her senior year. He offered to help pay her train fare to come home for Christmas and meet his parents. She went to Christmas Eve at his home, and she fell in love with the way they celebrated Christmas. Their relationship continued by letter until she graduated. They continued to write letters while she was in France the following year. Terry returned to Minnesota from her year in France in late August, and they got married in October.
In 1990 she went back to school – working fulltime as a secretary at Honeywell for 9 years (having started in the early 1980s when her youngest was in 6th grade). She attended a weekend program at Augsburg to be certified to teach French. She worked at Osseo High School teaching for 8 years. In 1999 she retired from teaching.
Terry is a member of St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Maple Grove. She is in a centering prayer group and the Stephen Ministries at her church. She visits a 96-year-old woman from her church on a weekly basis, listening to her as she learned to listen to the Sisters. She feels that “the Sisters have sent her out on a mission of love.”
Terry is quite ecumenical in her faith background. She was baptized in a Methodist Church in Linton, ND (Emmons County), confirmed in a Lutheran Church in Mound, MN and married in a Catholic Church in Minneapolis. Before she got married, she told her future husband that she wanted their family to have ONE church to go to and to go regularly, so she was open to becoming Catholic, and eventually did.
Terry’s favorite scripture verse is Isaiah 43:4a – “You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.” The first time she came upon this verse she was overcome by it. She believes God says this to everyone. People struggle to hear this, so she wants to share this with everyone. She has known since she was a child that she is God’s beloved child, and she has never doubted it.
Thank you, Terry, for the many ways you have served St. Paul’s Monastery over the past 15 years as a friend to the Sisters. We are grateful for the many gifts you bring to us, as well as your ongoing commitment to serve the Community. May God continue to bless you richly and keep you forever in his loving care.
You can now view the St. Scholastica Feast Day Event for Terry Johnson on our YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/8WPQxXtttJY