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Meet Fr. Johnny Johnson

Meet Fr. Johnny Johnson

  • Today in Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
  • New Priest at St. Elizabeth Seton
  • 25 May 2022

Although he is not entirely new to our parish community, Fr. Johnny Johnson will be taking on a new role. This June, he begins his new assignment at St. Elizabeth Seton, serving the needs of our pastor and community.

Fr. Johnny’s story began in a Methodist home where he was born and raised. At the age of 17, he married his wife, Sherry. Their marriage has always been a sounding board for decisions throughout his life, Fr. Johnny explained. He cannot imagine his life without his marriage.

One of those major decisions came one year following their marriage when Fr. Johnny experienced a deep conversion and chose to hand his life over to Jesus.

As a college student, he began pursuing ministry within the Methodist church, and eventually attended Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky to earn his master’s degree in divinity. His wife stood by his side, and the two took each step forward — together.

“When I was in seminary,” Fr. Johnny explained, “you can say I had an epiphany. I was studying Church history and the Church Fathers, and Greek, and I began to see the true Church as Catholic.”

As a Methodist, Fr. Johnny was taught that the Eucharist was just a symbol; he began to see that this wasn’t the case.

“I began to see the real presence of Jesus,” Fr. Johnny continued.

During a conversation with a fellow Methodist, Fr. Johnny began to elaborate on his newfound belief in the Real Presence. Disturbed by his beliefs, his fellow Methodist responded, saying that Fr. Johnny had moved beyond Methodist beliefs and was either becoming a Roman Catholic or an Anglican.

He encouraged Fr. Johnny to talk with an Anglican priest he knew who might be able to help him, and, not knowing a Roman Catholic to assist him, Fr. Johnny sought out the Anglican priest. The priest introduced Father to the Anglican bishop, and at that time he decided to leave the Methodist Church in pursuit of the Anglican Church. In the process, he also joined a new seminary where he became “Anglicanized” on the road to the priesthood.

“I served twenty-some years in the Anglican Church, in parishes throughout the country,” Fr. Johnny explained.

Over time, however, the Anglican Church began leaning increasingly toward relativity and less toward absolute truth. One instance that particularly bothered Fr. Johnny was the Anglican Church’s growing relativistic stance toward fundamental Christian doctrine, such as the Trinity.

“The Anglican Church was becoming a little too relativistic,” Fr. Johnny said plainly. “I began to think that I needed to make a change.”

He and his wife began having discussions about their growing concerns.

“I would rather be a lay person in the Catholic Church [than a priest in the increasingly relativistic Anglican Church],” Fr. Johnny told his wife at the time.

Detached and of their own accord, they both believed it was time to transition to the Catholic Church, and made the move together.

“I knew when I started in the Anglican Church,” Fr. Johnny explained, “I knew the Catholic Church was the Church established by Jesus Christ. After all this started happening, I knew I needed to go to Rome.”

Fr. Johnny was in Bakersfield at the time and eventually moved back home to Kentucky, where he entered into the Church on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi in 2006. It was a little connection that meant a lot to him, as he had served as a third order Franciscan during his time as an Anglican.

Soon after, knowing several married Anglican priests who had entered the Roman Catholic priesthood, Fr. Johnny began pursuing the Roman priesthood through the Pastoral Provision, an educational process established by Pope St. John Paul II in 1980 to bring converted Anglican priests into full communion with the Holy See.

Fr. Johnny began his seminary journey at St. Meinrad Seminary in southern Indiana. There he applied himself to the courses prescribed to him through the Pastoral Provision process. This was distinct from the typical seminary experience in that he was only required to take courses that he had not taken before when earning his master’s degree in divinity. After completing his studies, Fr. Johnny received his approval from Pope Benedict XVI to be accepted into the priesthood of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.

In 2011, he was ordained to the sacred priesthood, and professed his commitment to his local bishop, Archbishop Kurtz, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Fr. Johnny served as a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Louisville until his retirement in 2021. At that time, to help his son and daughter-in-law with raising their children, Fr. Johnny sought and was given permission from his archbishop to retire and move to Carmel, Indiana. Since, Fr. Johnny has served both the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, filling in here-and-there for any parishes in need of assistance.

Realizing his premature retirement from ministry, Fr. Johnny sought active ministry and was offered a position at St. Elizabeth Seton.

“Hopefully,” Fr. Johnny said, looking forward to his time at Seton, “I’ll be able to get my family involved — my wife and kids. Number two, to serve the congregation where the needs might be.”

Fr. Johnny expressed his personal devotion to the Holy Family, as well as to healing ministry.

“I try to evangelize people…I want to bring people to a greater awareness and closer to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” Fr. Johnny elaborated.

With this, Fr. Johnny also hopes to bring opportunities for healing to people.

“Healing — you know – the sick, I’ve had Healing Masses in the past, anointing people for their sickness, mental illness, physical, spiritual, you name it,” Fr. Johnny explained.

His ministry has also included hospital visits, home visits, and pastoral care.

“I guess I consider myself a healing priest,” Fr. Johnny said. “My spirituality – I really try to engage people and take time for (them), because we’re in this world not for ourselves but for others – that’s why we’re here. It means a lot to focus on people.”

Fr. Johnny’s first day at Seton will be June 29. Although it is unclear what Fr. Johnny’s role will be at Seton, he is excited and grateful to be a part of the parish community.