Sister Thelma Johnson, 77, was teacher, principal

August 07, 1991

Sister Thelma Johnson, Oblate Sister of Providence, who served as a teacher and principal at schools throughout the Northeast and the Midwest, died of heart failure Monday at St. Agnes Hospital. She was 77.

A wake followed by the liturgy of Christian burial will be offered for Sister Thelma tomorrow at Our Lady of Mount Providence Convent Chapel, 701 Gun Road. Burial will be Friday at Loudon Park Cemetery.

Sister Thelma returned Saturday from her current assignment at Buffalo's Catholic Central-Herlihy School to enter the health-care unit at the order's mother house in Catonsville. She had undergone surgery for cancer in June.

Born in Baltimore in 1913, Thelma Johnson entered the order on Aug. 6, 1935, and took her final vows in 1944 as Sister Mary Nazareth. She returned to the use of her baptismal name during the 1960s, after Vatican II.

A graduate of St. Francis High School, she earned a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education at the College of Notre Dame in 1961 and a master's degree in the field from Villanova University in 1968.

She began teaching in 1937 at St. Vincent De Paul School in Washington, where she also served as principal before moving in 1945 to serve at schools in Chicago, Detroit and Aiken, S.C., before returning to Washington in 1955 to St. Cyprian School.

After a year teaching church school in New Orleans, she returned to Baltimore in 1959 and served at St. Pius V School until 1961, when she moved to schools in Miami and Michigan as teacher and principal.

Sister Thelma went to her final assignment in Buffalo in 1986, beginning as a junior high school religion teacher at the Diocesan Educational Campus, then teaching elementary-level reading and religion at the school, which was renamed Catholic Central-Herlihy School.

Sister Thelma was known as jovial and kind, a good listener and "a real spirit of simplicity," said a spokeswoman for the order.

She is survived by her mother, Carrie Brooks of Flushing, N.Y.

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