Sister Rose Theresa Johnson died Aug. 10, 2012. Sister Rose Karen Johnson completed her ministry in Central City in 2015 and is retired at the Motherhouse.
For the last six years sisters Rose Theresa and Rose Karen Johnson have served together as Catholic witnesses and pastoral associates at Saint Joseph parish in Central City, Kentucky. For the last five years two of their closest friends have been Rondle and Betty Skimehorn of rural Central City, devout Baptists who call the Johnson sisters (they are also blood sisters) two of their best friends.
“They are two of the nicest Christian ladies I’ve ever known,” says Rondle. “They are both outgoing and they are both out to help people. They are kind to everyone they meet. We really get along fine.”
“I just think they are extra special,” says Betty. “Anytime you are in their home, they give you a warm welcome. And, you know when they visit the sick and the shut-ins, it’s not just those from their church, but those from all different churches. They are really special.”
How did a Baptist couple in Baptist-dominant Muhlenberg County meet two Ursuline Sisters serving their ministry at Saint Joseph’s? “We met through one of their friends,” Rondle explained. “A good friend of theirs – Laura Smith – is married to a good friend of mine – W.T. Smith. Laura introduced us and we’ve been friends ever since. We take them out to eat once in a while and we sure do enjoy their company. I’m glad to see them every time I see them coming.”
“Our friendship is 100%,” adds Betty. “If I was critically ill I’d call them and ask them to pray for me.”
Sister Rose Theresa was the seventh of 13 children born to Damien and Catherine Johnson, who lived on a farm near St. Lawrence, Kentucky, about 15 miles east of Owensboro. She attended Saint Lawrence Grade School, where she was taught by Ursuline Sisters and from eighth grade on “knew I wanted to be a sister…an Ursuline sister!” Her desire to become a sister came as no surprise to her parents and other family members. “We already had two Charity sisters in the family,” says Sister Rose Theresa, “but having been taught for eight years by the Ursuline Sisters and with three sisters already in the Ursuline community, my choice was easy to make.”
She attended high school at Mount Saint Joseph and college at Brescia. The first 40 years of her life as an Ursuline sister were devoted to teaching. She taught grades 1-5 in the Owensboro Diocese and in Louisville.
After leaving the classroom, she served four years as pastoral associate at Saint William Parish in Marion. During that time she sang on “The Living Christmas Tree” in Marion and was in the movie “The Last Dance,” which was about capital punishment. She was also featured a number of times in Extension Magazine. After leaving Marion and doing Catholic witness work for four years in Caneyville, Sister Rose Theresa moved in 2000 to Central City, where she was reunited with her sister. “I have enjoyed living and working with Sister Rose Karen,” she says. “During these six years I have come to love and appreciate our pastor Father Ben (Luther), everyone in St. Joseph’s parish, and everyone in Muhlenberg County.”