Cover photo for Sister Joanne Johnson's Obituary
1935 Sister 2021

Sister Joanne Johnson

August 17, 1935 — November 16, 2021

Sister Joanne Marie Johnson CSJ, 86, passed away Tuesday morning, November 16, 2021, in the Benedictine Living Community of Crookston.

Sister Joanne Marie Johnson was born August 17, 1935 to Clarence and Ursula (Farrell) of Minneapolis, MN.  She attended elementary school and St. Anthony High School in Minneapolis.  The untimely deaths of her mother Ursula and sister Dorothy Johnson Dillon meant that Joanne took on household duties as well as childcare for her two nephews while still a student.

Sister Joanne entered the community of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Crookston on August 15, 1956.  She became acquainted with the community through her uncle, Father Mark Farrell, pastor of the new parish of St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis whose school was staffed by Sisters from Crookston.  Joanne received the Habit in May 1957 at St. Joseph’s Provincial House, Marywood Road and given the religious name of Sister Mary Clarence.  (She often remarked later that only other “Sister Mary Clarence” she knew was the role played by Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act!)  Sister Joanne pronounced her First Vows in 1959 and Final Vows in 1964.  She returned to the use of her baptismal name during the time of her missionary work with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Recife, Brazil from 1966-1970.

Her academic work at Viterbo College in LaCrosse, Wisconsin resulted in an BME degree in Music Education and later she received a Masters of Ministry degree from Seattle University.  Summers often found her pursuing the study of languages, especially French and Portuguese.

Her resiliency and good nature enabled Sister Joanne to willingly accept God’s will for her in the many and varied ministries to which she was called. In addition to her missionary years in Brazil, she served the Diocese of Crookston in small parishes as Pastoral Associate, music teacher, Parish Administrator, Religious Education Coordinator, and Director of Evangelization for a group of parishes.  Sister Joanne was an important member of the parish team of St. Mary’s and St. Louis Parishes in Dunseith, ND.  She also served her Congregation as a member of leadership teams.

Sister Joanne’s music ministry was severely curtailed in 2000 when a stroke caused a paralysis-like condition of her singing voice and ability to continue playing organ and piano.  She has lived at Summit in Crookston and then in more recent years, at the Villa.

Survivors include Ken Johnson, (brother) and family of Minneapolis, MN, Dennis Dillon (nephew) and Joan also of Minneapolis, and cousins Roberta Spaeth of St. Michael, MN, and Carolyn Kile of Sebeka, MN and by the members of her religious community.  She was predeceased by her parents Clarence and Ursula Farrell Johnson, sister Dorothy Johnson Dillon, brother Robert Johnson and sister-in-law Nancy Johnson.

Sister Joanne’s life will be celebrated on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 with a Prayer Service and Sharing of Memories at 1:30pm in the Villa Chapel.  The Mass of Resurrection is scheduled for 3:00pm in the Chapel and will be followed by the burial in Calvary Cemetery. The services will be livestreamed by going to Sister Joanne’s obituary page at 10 minutes before the scheduled start of each service and clicking on the prompt to view. Memorials may be considered for the Congregation of St. Joseph, the Villa Foundation, or Hospice of the Red River Valley.

Online registry and messages of condolence may be made at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Sister Joanne Johnson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Prayer Service

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Starts at 1:30 pm (Central time)

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

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Funeral Mass

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Starts at 3:00 pm (Central time)

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